A dual career due to flexible working

Ruth Astle is able to combine her job at Lloyds Banking Group and being a professional athlete due to her employer’s flexibility.


Ruth Astle is a successful professional athlete. She is also a diversity and inclusion strategist at Lloyds Banking Group, having managed to carve out her own flexible role and combine a dual career for the last few years.

Ruth has been at Lloyds Banking Group since joining its graduate scheme in 2012. After stints working in the commercial wing of the bank, in risk and with its charity of the year, she ended up in a series of business management roles in commercial banking, which, as a generalist, gave her a good overall view of the way things were run. 

She then took a role supporting the Chief Information Officer. Her boss was soon promoted, meaning her own role also suddenly got a lot bigger. She loved working with him and did long hours, but by the end of 2019 she decided she wanted to turn pro as an athlete. She floated the idea of reducing her hours and going part time. She had already been doing some diversity and inclusion work on the side like others in her department, but there was no-one in the team who was totally devoted to it.  It made sense for Ruth to do it for two full days a week and it was a role she could flex around her training schedule. Her boss agreed. 

Almost a year ago she sidestepped into the agility team which suits her post-Covid training schedule and means she doesn’t have to commit to regular team calls, given she will sometimes be abroad in training camps for six to seven week blocks. “It’s now the most flexible job in the world,” she says. “I’m very lucky that senior people in the bank trust me to get on with my work.” They are lucky too, in that they have been able to retain her experience and knowledge of the business.

Starting out

It was through Lloyds Banking Group that Ruth first got into triathlons.  When she did her graduate placement on the charity of the year team she found that there was a spare slot for someone to compete in the 2013 London triathlon.  Ruth had always been sporty, but had never excelled at any one sport. “I’m a generalist,” she says. She figured she could run, bike and swim. Why not give the triathlon a go? She really enjoyed it and decided to join a local triathlon club as a way of keeping fit and meeting people. 

By 2014 she was taking part in lots of competitions, and she decided to make it her mission to qualify to represent the UK. She quickly realised she wasn’t fast enough, so she built up her distance running. By 2019 she had entered the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in a bid to prove to herself that she was good enough to turn professional.  At the time she was burning the candle at both ends, getting up at 4.30am to train and working a 50-60-hour week at Lloyds Banking Group. “I don’t know how I survived,” she says.

Turning pro

At the end of that year, she turned pro and went part time and says she now has the best of both worlds. Her current banking role is focused on Lloyds Banking Group’s strategy on recruiting, supporting and retaining older workers, with her main focus being on policies that will have the most impact and are the most feasible for all the different roles available across the bank.

In her other job her priority this year is the Challenge Roth in Germany where she will be competing against some of the best women in the world. Ruth says her times for the 3.8km swim, the 180km bike race and the on-foot marathon have improved since she went part time at Lloyds Banking Group and got more sleep. Asked what she would advise others who have similar ambitions, she says: “Just have the courage to ask to redesign your job. What is the worst they could do?”

*Picture credit: Ruthastle.com

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