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The OBIE Op-Ed: Driving Diversity

The OBIE is a unique repository of insight, expertise, and experience gained from having brought the open banking programme to life in the UK. We are pleased to make this thought leadership available to the broader open banking ecosystem, as part of a new, regular, ‘The OBIE Op-Ed’ series.

Contact press@openbanking.org.uk to request coverage of a specific topic.

The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) is an organisation that was established as a competition remedy, and its  commitment to accessibility and inclusion goes far beyond the industry it was mandated to disrupt. Part of its mission to be a public good extends to having an engaged, diverse and inclusive workforce. Such measures have led to the OBIE making flexible working opportunities available to staff, such as splitting full-time roles into part-time roles via role sharing.

More recently, this has led the OBIE to be one of the first organisations to sign up for the Accutrainee Scholarship Programme. Legal trainee Chidi Onye Ogbuagu, who has been with the OBIE since March 2021, speaks about his experience of the Accutrainee Scholarship Programme, his role in the OBIE team and his ambitions for the future.

Chidi Onye Ogbuagu, Legal trainee

As I neared the completion of my studies, I shared the anxiety of my peers as we hurdled obstacles towards securing a Legal Training Contract. It’s a competitive landscape and we don’t all necessarily begin at the same starting line. I was in between legal jobs during the pandemic, and I came across the Accutrainee Scholarship Programme. Encouraged and excited by its affirmative action approach and its mission to create opportunities for talented graduates irrespective of background, I decided to throw my hat in the meritocratic ring.

After undergoing a rigorous selection process, I was made a Scholar and awarded a placement within the OBIE’s in-house legal department. Having carefully observed the growing popularity, regulatory scrutiny, and potential of financial technology firms, I was delighted to hear the news. Not only because I would be working in my first-choice sector but also because I would be supporting the government’s own ambitions to promote innovation and financial inclusiveness.

My experience at the OBIE has so far been outstanding. My role has involved lots of new exposure to different policies, regulations, and stakeholders, which has greatly informed my perception of the industry and future career ambitions. In addition, I have gained insights into the fintech world, not just from a legal standpoint but also from a consumer perspective, as I got to observe OBIE’s innovative thinking and the complex work that has a direct and measurable benefit to consumers such as variable recurring payments (VRPs) and Sweeping.

It has also been a different experience joining a new organisation during a global pandemic where the entire office was, and still is, working remotely. Despite me only just starting to meet my colleagues in person, I couldn’t have felt more supported and valued throughout my secondment. I have not only been able to establish myself within OBIE’s Policy, Legal and Communications team in which I sit, I have also expanded my professional network by getting to know the wider OBIE team and be exposed to all of their respective areas of expertise and experience.

I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Accutrainee Programme has given me. Through its mentorship scheme, training sessions, and unparalleled network of trainees and legal professionals, I feel as though I am being expertly shaped for a career as a solicitor.  I am working for OBIE in this placement until March. I would then like to be placed within another company, or law firm committed to positive change to build on my legal and professional experience.

Finally, I am very appreciative of the OBIE. Not just because of how seamless it has felt to work alongside its specialists, but mainly because of its decision to uplift those who want to enter the legal profession and feel they have a lot to offer but who might not have the same chance otherwise.

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About the Accutrainee Scholarship Programme

If your organisation is interested in supporting the Accutrainee Scholarship Programme please see further information below:

The Accutrainee Scholarship Programme offers a simple solution for legal leaders to make a positive impact in supporting diversity in law through the delivery of high quality junior resources. The Scholarship goes beyond simply offering short term work experience to scholars but rather a genuine root to qualification through training contracts or qualifying work experience opportunities as well as meaningful contributions to their studies and exams.

For more information please contact susan.cooper@accutrainee.com.