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New bank boss who believes in breaking the barriers to success

"NEXT," said the school careers adviser. "Ah, Cutbill. I see you are top of the class in maths. Banking must be the career for you. Next."

And so began Dean Cutbill's career.

Today, he is the director for Yorkshire Bank, leading an organisation with thousands of employees, responsible for a network with 190 branches and 23 financial solutions centres and, of course, the venerable Yorkshire brand.

But back then, he was a comprehensive schoolboy who took the advice seriously, even if he later realised it was wrong.

"Banking isn't really about maths," said the 44-year-old. "It's about people."

Cutbill was born in Edmonton, north London, and like many families in the '60s, moved out to the Home Counties, to Ware, in Hertfordshire.

Following the career adviser's recommendation, he wrote to

all the major high street banks, and some investment banks, asking for a job. Nat West offered him a position at a branch in

the City and his first job was hand-printing cheque books in the vault.

He spent several months underground before being allowed to perform tasks like hand-processing cheques, setting up standing orders and direct debits. By the time he got to the till, he was "penny perfect" – apart from the day when he lost the bank 480.

A customer came in to deposit what he said was 500 in the customary red 1 coin bag. He dropped it through the chute and the new recruit handed over the notes.

When he checked the bag, it was full of two pence pieces. "You bloody idiot," said his boss when he told her. "Let that be a lesson for you. Don't ever let that happen again."

He recalled: "For me, that was a massive lesson in terms of learning by mistakes. Don't do it twice, that's negligent. At the end of the day it happened to 40 other banks. It was a team of people going around."

He also learned about the hierarchical nature of institutions. His first bank manager was a Mr Leech – "to this day I don't know his Christian name" – and Cutbill would be summoned via the squawk box to see him in his wood-pannelled office.

His next boss, at another branch in the City, ruled by instilling feelings of fear and nervousness in his staff.

"It was more than hierarchical; I was there to serve this man. During a visit to his office, my file fell off his desk and I ended up scrabbling about on the floor.

"It was a huge lesson about how people perceive other people. I thought that if I ever got to that position, I would never be like that. It was about the way you act, the way your office is set out, how you call people's names and treating everyone as an individual."

Five years passed at Nat West and Cutbill had a career progression conversation

with his superiors.

"You are doing very, very well," they told him. "Now you must wait for years before you can get to the next level."

"It was like dead man's shoes," he said. "I thought this organisation does not fit with my values. Somebody was limiting me. There was a glass roof above you. It was about doing your time before you get through."

So he wrote to Abbey National, which was then moving from building society to bank status, to offer his services. They obviously liked the look of him and gave him a job, in 1988, under Basil Larkins, setting up the complete backroom operation.

It was at Abbey that he met his wife, Sarah. They were in a lift. He said they should get together. She said he was too short. He indicated that height was irrelevant in certain situations.

They kept it a secret from their colleagues, or so they thought, as the security guard had spotted the pair on CCTV, hand in hand, leaving the office.

Abbey also gave Cutbill the opportunity to work on the relationship management side of the business and deal with intermediaries and third parties, which was key to the bank's growth.

A few years later and he hit the glass ceiling again. "Dean Cutbill", they told him, "you have all the skills and you are the right sort of person but you have to wait another five to 10 years."

Woolwich at the time was looking to move to bank status. He wrote to the chief executive, offering his help with the intermediary work.

John Stewart replied, and said that a colleague would be in touch. He accepted the offer of a job and set up the organisation's third-party distribution team and became a director of the Woolwich surveying business.

Barclays bought Woolwich in 2000. Cutbill was a corporate business director.

"After the two years I had been working with Barclays, I found that, culturally, the bank did not fit with how I wanted to operate. It was like walking through treacle. At Woolwich, we were empowered. I felt we were in charge of our own destiny, which is important for me."

An offer came along from John Stewart, now in charge of National Australia Bank in Europe, who appointed him general manager of third-party distribution in 2004. In 2006,

he became products and marketing director and, in October, was appointed director for Yorkshire Bank.

He said: "Yorkshire Bank is based around values of honesty, prudence, caution and not taking risks. I will stick to the same pattern. The current market actually indicates that approach. I will make sure we build on that and listen to our customers, communities and business partners.

"I want to bring the bank manager of the past to the future with a contemporary feel, with local decision-making at the hearts of our communities. Most banks make the decisions at head office 200 miles away.

"It will still be a traditional bank, but I want to start driving that community relationship to the next level. That's not just about banking, it's about making sure we get connected to the local community and take an active role."

The Cutbill family home remains in Hertfordshire, although he said he spends about four days a week in Leeds. When he started, he lived in a hotel but now has an apartment in the city centre, which means that he can indulge in his passion for cookery.

Outside work, he and his wife enjoy walking holidays, and have trekked in the Himalayas, the Alps and the South of France, and he is enjoying the close access to the Dales.

Cutbill also likes driving around on his 1964 Lambretta scooter, a relic from his youth

as a Mod. He is a huge Northern Soul fan and said that he and his wife love dancing – indeed, they have something of a dancefloor reputation at Yorkshire Bank parties.

Back to more serious matters; what are the most important lessons he has learned in his career? "Be yourself and create an environment where people feel free to be themselves, where you can have diversity of thought and actions."

He said that it was important to "have a passion for results, a passion for people, a passion for change and innovation, a passion for making a difference and a passion for the world around you".

He added: "My job is to remove the glass ceilings for people."

DEAN CUTBILL

Title: Director for Yorkshire Bank

Date of birth: 14.1.64

Education: Fanshawe Comprehensive School, Ware, Herts

First job: Hand-printing cheque books at NatWest

Favourite holiday destination: Ingrina Beach, Algarve, Portugal

Favourite song: Yes, It's You, by Eugene Smiley and the Essence of Love

Last book read: Tribewanted, by Ben Keene

Car driven: I drive a Lambretta scooter.

What are you most proud of: The cultural change we have managed to achieve over the last five years at Yorkshire Bank

Dean Cutbill is the new man in charge at Yorkshire Bank.