Q&A: A day in the life of Octopus Property’s Chief Operating Officer
18 September 2018
Nick McAuliffe had a varied career in business before joining Octopus Property as Chief Operating Officer in 2017. We asked this self-confessed ‘all-rounder’ to tell us what he’s currently focusing on, and what he does when he’s not enhancing the journey for Octopus Property customers.
What’s your job title?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer for Octopus Property, the UK’s leading specialist property lender.
How long have you been with Octopus, and what did you do before you joined?
I’ve been part of the team since May 2017, having spent the previous 24 years working in a wide range of lending businesses. I started my career in sales and progressed through Credit, Management, Project, Marketing and Operational roles, with my last role being managing director at a successful challenger bank. So, I’d describe myself as a bit of an all-rounder.
When and how does your day usually start?
I prefer to get going early so that I can go to the gym before getting to my desk for around 8am. This means I get to avoid the commuter crowds and the early start sets me up for the day ahead!
Can you describe a typical working day?
I’m not sure I ever have a typical day, since as the business evolves there are always new challenges and opportunities for us to serve our customers. If there is a pattern, then I’d say it is to try to look across the three teams within Octopus property: residential lending, commercial lending and development lending teams, and think about how we best provide a consistent, fast and seamless service for our customers, which requires a fair amount of ‘joining the dots’ along with planning ahead to align our technology, organisational design and key performance indicators (KPIs) as we continue to grow.
What three items do you carry with you everywhere you go?
You’ll never find me without my iPhone and a water bottle, and I always travel to and from work on my Brompton!
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, we’re investing a lot of our energy into improving how we use technology across the customer journey, so that is a particular focus.
The team is working closely with Octopus Labs, the fintech arm of Octopus, to improve front office processes (everything from receiving initial broker inquiries, approving loan requests and releasing the funds to complete the transaction). Labs is also helping us to implement new case management processes that increase transparency for the brokers we work with.
These changes will involve our internal people in ways that will require a combination of listening, educating, guidance and support. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding when we see new ways of working start to deliver results that our customers will benefit from, so that is a big motivator.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I really enjoy seeing potential become reality. Working with an ambitious and energetic business is exciting as we build a platform for future growth. As a group of businesses, Octopus is so diverse. This fosters a creative environment that larger financial institutions struggle to keep hold of. As companies expand, increased bureaucracy tends to narrow their thinking.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
I would say that we are finding the pace of change slower than we’d like, for a number of reasons, which can be frustrating for everyone. Some of that is due to our enthusiasm in taking on lots of big projects at the same time, so we are improving how we prioritise and starting to use data more effectively in our decision-making, which helps.
We are also continuing to build strong relationships with our colleagues in Labs to optimise the coordination of our tech and design capability to deliver value for our customers. As ever, communication is a key part of this, and we are making great progress.
What do you love about life at Octopus?
It probably sounds like a cliché, but the people in Octopus Property are a great bunch with a very proud team spirit. We certainly work hard, but you’ll hear laughter and see big smiles in amongst all the blood, sweat and tears!
“I really enjoy seeing potential become reality. Working with an ambitious and energetic business is exciting as we build a platform for future growth.”
How do you like to relax/take your mind off work?
Spending time with my family and friends is important and that definitely takes my mind off work. In terms of relaxation, I prefer to be active and find that is a good antidote to having a desk job, so I cycle a lot, run a bit and try to go to the gym a couple of times a week too.
What’s the best piece of advice someone at Octopus has given you?
One of my colleagues recently told me about her time volunteering for one of the charities that Octopus Giving supports. This motivated me to follow in her footsteps, so I’ve signed up to do the same thing. It can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day routines, so I think it is important to step outside of my comfort zone sometimes as a reminder that there is more to life.
Finally, what would you say to someone considering a career with Octopus?
Go for it! Octopus is genuinely different from other places I’ve worked. While there are, of course, good days and bad days in any job, I always come away feeling that the people here are trying to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. You can take a lot of comfort knowing that those around you are pulling in the same direction and I’m experienced enough not to take that for granted.
Interested in a career at Octopus? Visit our Careers section
Octopus Property and Octopus Healthcare merged to form Octopus Real Estate.