I have enjoyed six years of law, with the first four years sitting in the government faculty, philosophy and sociology — the last two I have focused more on professional skills and applying some of the theoretical knowledge accumulated.
For me university years were terrific, I have enjoyed the privilege of studying something that was intellectually stimulating, deepening my understanding of multidisciplinary studies.
Retrospectively, I should have probably taken a module or two of economics or finance and saved myself some long and sleepless nights later in life.
Why did you seek out a career in this field? How you ended up in your first job?
I never sought a career in investment or venture capital. In my ignorance, I knew it existed, but it presented no interest in the beginning. It was a subjective determination to become a lawyer.
It was by a fortunate mistake that I interviewed and was offered a job with an overseas conglomerate expanding to London UK, that my plan took a different turn.
For me, it was a significant change, a new world where multiple disciplines and perspectives would come together. I spent the first year looking at the market and investment proposals, learning and applying the knowledge. It was there where I learned about financial modeling and market analysis.
Reporting was an intrinsic part of the Portfolio Investment Manager job and have always tried to push the boundaries and improve my approach, taking business school night classes and later I started my ACCA qualification. It was a very steep learning curve and one that set me up on a new pathway.
I was close to three years in my previous Portfolio Investment Manager job when I realized that for me to further build my skills, I would need to move to a slightly more technical position, where I could have proximity with the leadership.
In my journey looking for the right opportunity, I have found exactly that at Funding London, an ability to learn and prepare for the next stage of my professional development. The fact that we have a friendly and supportive culture is a big plus.
Interviews, CVs and advice for early-stage investment professionals
I will never be able to claim any expertise in interviewing or CV writing. I think it is all about customizing your approach at a superficial level to match the Portfolio Investment Manager job and organization targeted. There is a line some professionals cross, and I think it is very dangerous, that of embellishing the truth or lie about their suitability for the Portfolio Investment Manager job. Eventually the real you will come out and will not survive if not prepared.
For those only now thinking about the world of work, I think the advice I would have liked someone to give me when I was young is as follows:
- To learn how to be patient and resilient as most things are not so straightforward in life.
- It is better to try and fail than not try at all and live with regret.
- The first decisions in your life are the most important. Don’t settle for mediocre education, strive for the best you can get with your means and resources.
Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletter, podcasts, events etc.
I attend events and market updates religiously and read quite a lot in my spare time. Learning is fun when you enjoy the subject matter and apply the lessons to your daily work.
There are so many great ways to build new skills, and a few platforms I enjoy, Coursera and Udemy in particular.
I see the value of professional qualifications and continuous development, and there are two such pathways I have a keen interest myself: ACCA and CFA.
I appreciate that most readers will have varying perspectives on adult lifetime educational requirements. I cannot see myself stopping anytime soon, and this is not grounded in vanity but my continuous assessment of my knowledge gaps and curiosity.
What I have learnt from jobs I could not get
It is sometimes challenging to detach yourself and see the bigger picture. For me, rejection is a blessing in disguise. There are a few lessons I have learnt from the long chain of failed attempts.
First, that sometimes you must do your research on the company, the role and the level of specific skills required. The paper version of a role differs from the real version. Know the organizations they work with, their sector and the challenges faced with.
Second, that sometimes No is for your benefit. Some professionals have been in your shoes and can prevent you from engaging in a role that will not utilize your potential, or that will bore you. It may seem like tough love, but in the long run to those people, I am most grateful, they have saved me from a short-lived engagement with their organizations.
Third, that sometimes you are not there yet, regarding experience, knowledge or qualifications. Overall, that is not a bad thing; it can help channel your efforts and enable you to think laterally. One’s career is not about the end goal but the journey there, that must be enjoyed every single day, not just when bonuses are paid or Fridays.
Final point, that we cannot control everything, that we cannot jump ten years ahead or compete with people who worked a lifetime in an industry. In the best of circumstances, we can learn the lessons, become better versions of ourselves and approach progression enthusiastically.