Interview: City A.M. talks to Marcelino Castrillo, MD of SME UK banking at Santander

Marcelino Castrillo
Why has Santander decided to refocus its Breakthrough programme to include all ambitious SMEs, and not just fast-growth businesses?

The fast-growth businesses we’ve been working with were seeing great results: they were growing their workforce, launching new products and entering new markets. But we understand that not all ambitious businesses are necessarily fast-growth. Business ambition comes in many guises and we realised that the tools, resources and support that had been developed through the Breakthrough programme could help businesses achieve a variety of goals – whether it’s finding the right talent, expanding networks or going international.

What does this mean for Breakthrough?

We’ve added new elements, including regional business festivals across the UK, each delivering a week-long series of workshops and roundtables that bring more business owners face-to-face with each other and with experts in their field. We’re also bringing entrepreneurs together online via a LinkedIn community that’s already encouraging some great debates and knowledge sharing. We’re increasing the number of subsidised graduate interns we can provide access to, recognising that finding and retaining high quality people is a key hurdle for many firms. And as more businesses look abroad to new markets, we’re doing more to help them find the right one, by adding more countries and contacts to Trade Portal, for example. We’re developing the programme all the time, listening to our customers to ensure it remains relevant and effective in helping them develop their businesses.

How does Breakthrough now help ambitious businesses?

The five pillars of Breakthrough – knowledge, talent, international, connections and finance – have been developed to address the different ambitions we hear business owners talking about most often. In fact, we believe there isn’t much a business can’t achieve by keeping one step ahead; being connected to talented and experienced people; understanding how best to take your business abroad; having the right financial support in place – and that, in a nutshell, is what Breakthrough delivers.

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