Will.i.am and Atom Bank: The story behind the superstar board signing.
So how do you get a world famous investor and singer to take notice of an emerging challenger bank in County Durham? Let’s discover how the fascinating partnership between Atom Bank and Will.i.am originated, and how it will evolve.
When global superstar Will.i.am was announced as a strategic advisor to the board at Atom Bank in 2018, the excitement at the County Durham challenger bank was palpable.
A few eyebrows were raised – how would the musician and philanthropist help the business?
But those whose knowledge of Will.i.am – born William Adams – extends beyond The Black Eyed Peas and his involvement in The Voice could see what a brilliantly astute move this was, not least of all for his connection with their business clients of the future, the Millennials.
A savvy entrepreneur, Will has built up a multimillion-dollar business and advised countless other firms, including Intel where he was named director of creative innovation in 2011. And he’s also got in early to invest in global enterprises including Twitter and Tesla.
Will joined Anthony and Clare Crabb, North regional director at The Prince’s Trust, to launched a four-year partnership with the trust, the charity which equips disadvantaged young people with skills, self-confidence and experience to change their lives.
The partnership sees Atom become the leading Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) partner in the North East for The Prince’s Trust for the nxt four years.
Research shows that in 10 years a huge proportion of all jobs will require some knowledge of digital technology, so now is the time to get young people equipped for the future.
Based in the region with one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the UK, with more than one in ten young people aged 16 to 24 currently not in work, Atom Bank intends to use its 300- strong workforce to help 500 young people between now and 2021, equipping them with the skills they need for the roles crying out for skilled technicians now and in the future.
The STEM programme partnership was also, it transpires, triggered by Anthony’s visit to Los Angeles where he visited Will’s i.am.angel foundation, an after school curriculum he initiated in the neighbourhood where he grew up.
Some 600 young people have now gone through the programme, with a new cohort just getting started this year. Anthony said he was bowled over by the work Will had carried out in Los Angeles. The visit provided all the inspiration he needed for the link-up with The Prince’s Trust in the North East.
Will.i.am said he started the i.am.angel foundation in 2009 as a progression of work the Black Eyed Peas had been doing within inner cities to involve forgotten communities in music.
He explained: “I felt that music wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to bring real skillsets that would change the community as a whole.
“So I put together existing programmes, college-track programmes and made a new type of after-school curriculum and it transformed my immediate community from a failing, school to awesome results.
“Since then that original class of 65 kids has all graduated and 70% are going to school with robotics degrees, computer science degrees and engineering degrees.”