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2009

Empolyer of the month 

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job Get a great graduate

Landing Page Front page ad space to best capture readers’ attention compatible with video, audio and animation. REALW.DEMO09.COVER2.indd 1

ONLINE & DIGITAL SOLUTION A Real World of opportunities

2/12/08 12:17:54


6/8/08

14:46

Page 1

Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. Contact with cross-border colleagues.

Start thinking European.

Graduate Programmes – All Degree Disciplines From the moment you join a KPMG Graduate Programme, you’ll need to think European. That’s because the recent merger between our UK, German, Swiss and Spanish firms has allowed us to offer you something that virtually none of our competitors can – wide exposure to international clients and a unique, engaging opportunity to experience business the length and breadth of Europe. So, whether you choose to specialise in Audit, Tax or Advisory, one thing’s for certain. You’ll have the strength, scope and success of Europe’s largest fully integrated accountancy firm to inspire and challenge you. Visit www.kpmg.co.uk/careers to find out more and apply.

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© 2008 KPMG Europe LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a holding company of a number of members of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative. KPMG Europe LLP and KPMG International provide no client services.

040808S3 297 x 210

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Contents IN THIS 2009 ISSUE

ON THE COVER

P P12 Links The link facility in the digital edition allows us to create a direct link P P8 P to a website of your P36 Upfront Features choice. A wide variety of customisation options is available to help you obtain the right look-and-feel. The flashing, variouscoloured link boxes will draw more attention to areas of your advertising artwork. 8 Strategies for success Going for that big job can put you up against hundreds of other highly qualified graduates, all just like you. Leading careers author John Lees tells you how to stand out from the crowd.

12 First find your lightbulb Could one of your ideas become the Next Big Thing? Mike Harris, founder of Egg internet bank, and co-founder of First Direct, talks to Real World about how to turn your ideas into reality.

10 Summing up Attending interviews can be nerve-wracking enough without the added stress of being asked to do sums, but that’s exactly what you will be asked in a Case Study interview.

14 Money matters With the credit crunch biting deep we explore if graduates should be looking to enter this sector, and look at which areas are still in need of new graduate recruits. 16 Take it to the bank There's more to banking than the high-fliers in the City. We look at other opportunities within the banking sector, and talk to people already in banking.  22 Insuring your future Insurance may not have a glamorous image and is often overshadowed by other areas of finance, but it can offer a steady and varied career. 

26 Going for broke Times may be hard, but people are still drawn to the excitement and lucrative career of stockbroking. Real World gives you the inside line. 28 Taking account Accountancy has shaken off its boring image and is now seen as a career with a weath of opportunities. Our case studies explore exactly what accounts do. 

36 The magic numbers What do actuaries do? If you haven’t got a clue, then this feature will give you the inside line. 38 Alternative jobs Our case studies demonstrate the huge variety of positions available in the sector. 40 Guarding the purse strings Corporate treasury is still a young profession, but is developing a name for itself as the fun side of finance. 44 Well Managed Management Consultants help companies maximise their potential, but do you have the skills to take this career to the max?  50 Postgraduate study Should you invest in your career prospects by going on the postgraduate study? We explore if postgrad is really for you.  58 Recruiter Files A round-up of engineering & technology firms with jobs on offer and universities offering courses that will help you progress in your career. Jobs in your inbox For hundreds more graduate jobs have a look at our website: www.realworldmagazine.com. Register and receive the latest jobs by email.

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RP sector Banking & Finance

apply now

www.ey.com/uk/careers

Ernst & Young Potential? It’s a funny thing, potential. Everywhere you look there are things that could be great, that could be a cut above the rest. And that probably includes you. But things don’t just become great on their own - they need advice, support and guidance from people that know the territory inside out. Ernst & Young has 114,000 people, in 700 locations across 140 countries around the world that are working to help companies realise the potential in their business. If you choose to join us, you get access to a breadth and depth of experience that’s unparalleled, to help you realise your own potential. We help our clients with Audit, Tax, Corporate Finance and Business Advisory. Which means that from early on you’ll be working with real people, with real problems, to help them overcome the challenges they face and get the most from their business. The support to succeed But you won’t be on your own in making that happen. As you should expect from a firm that promises quality in everything we do, the training you’ll get is first rate. So, whether it’s a professional qualification you’re after, or the broader business skills needed to advise the biggest and the best, every single person at Ernst & Young has a

dedicated counselor and mentor to help them develop, look out for their best interests and push them to be even better. You are not a number Yes, most of what we do involves numbers. But that doesn’t mean that’s all you are. Our clients want to deal with real people, not corporate clones, so individual personalities matter a lot. Delivery to the highest standards, on time, every time ensures the flexibility to balance working life with a life outside of work and keep personalities personal. Make it happen If you’re not looking for a graduate position just yet, think about taking part in our Work Experience, Summer Internship or Industrial Placement Programmes. And if you’re ready now to get your career started, we’ve got what you need to turn what you could be, into what you are. Please visit www.ey.com/uk/careers for more information.

4 RP WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM

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6/3/08 12:01:24


sector Banking & Finance RP

Chongo Sokota

sh Ernst & Young

Job title: Tax Advisor Degree: Law University: Birmingham University Joined Ernst & Young: June 2006

Videos

Videos are a great way of boosting thething, impact existing It’s a funny potential.of Everywhere you there are things that could be great, that static look advertisement space. could be a cut above the rest. And that Automatic videoyou.playback probably includes But things don’twill just become great on their own - they need advice, play immediately when support and guidance from peoplethe that know territory inside readertheviews theout. page. WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM RP 5

REALW.DEMO09.VIDEO.indd 5

1/12/08 17:03:38


RW

strategies for success| interviews

is evidence of something I have actually done. Let me tell you how I did it and what I actually achieved.” So The Apprentice Trap is where you get people coming up with a fantastic list of adjectives, whereas what is much more important is talking about actual experiences.’

Job interviews are one of life’s most stressful situations. Here careers strategist and leading British careers author, John Lees, offers his advice on how to succeed at interview.

‘S

election procedures have got more complicated and more extended, so preparation is key. Because most graduates don’t have good CVs there is far more trawling that goes on. The first ‘sift’ or rounds of interviews are very much a case of just looking at people and if you are not

DUMMY RUNS ‘Get someone to run through an interview with you, asking the kind of questions you know will come up: “why did you take a gap year? Why did you decide to study this subject?” Park short,

getting positive messages across and you are not coming over as enthusiastic in the first five minutes you are probably never

positive responses to them all at the back of your mind so you can answer immediately. If you know what you are going to say

going to get there.’

you can concentrate on getting on with the people in the room and building a relationship with them. Most definitely think about

PREPARATION ‘If someone has an interview and is panicking, my normal reply

what you will answer if they ask what your weaknesses are because making it up on the spot can be very dangerous. The

is to take two steps back. First thing to do is find out what you have already done right; what information you have already submitted has got you that all important interview? A lot of graduates have no idea what is already working for them. ‘The second thing is to do twice as much homework as you think is necessary on the company and the role, so you have a working checklist in your head of what you think this employer is really looking for. ‘These are the only two bits of preparation that really matter The core is what are they looking for? And have you got short, readily available answers and examples that match what they are looking for, with some real evidence of achievement.’

best answers are about weaknesses that are allowable in a work context, such as being a perfectionist. That’s just another way of representing a strength.’

THE APPRENTICE TRAP ‘Too many graduates concentrate on their behaviour and not on the content of what they are presenting. All you ever see on The Apprentice TV series is people telling Sir Alan Sugar “I am the greatest”, what they never show you is people saying “and here

FINAL THOUGHTS ‘You should go into every job interview as if it is the most important in the world; throw yourself into it 100 per cent. If you don’t get it remember there are lots of arbitrary reasons why employers make decisions that have nothing to do with your interview performance.’ John Lees is a leading British career coach and author of the best-selling books, How to Get a Job You’ll Love, Take Control of Your Career, and Why You? CV Messages to Win Jobs. He is also co-author (with Matthew J. Deluca) of Job Interviews: Top Answers to Tough Questions (McGraw-Hill, £9.99, July 2008). We have five issues to giveaway to the first people to send their name and address to dee@realworldmagazine.com n

Photography: © iStockphoto.com

Strategies for success

WORK EXPERIENCE ‘All the graduates I see make the mistake of underselling their work experience; they usually park it on page two of their CV. Most employers want to know what you have actualy done and even if it was just a Saturday job, talking about what you learned, and the skills you used is information you should lead with. What most employers are looking for is demonstrated motivation, because every graduate says “I am highly motivated and a self-starter”, but that is meaningless. What they are realy looking for is evidence of you actually doing something. Whether it is voluntary work, or organising a trip abroad, it does not matter. Just being able to say “I decided to do something and occupied my time fruitfully,” that’s the difference between an average and an above average candidate.’

6 RW WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM

REALW.FIN09.APT.indd 8

1/12/08 17:20:04


The day Adding of the bookmarks allow readers to milkround is goover. quickly from Bookmarks

anywhere within the magazine to your advertisement so they never lose track of specific pages.

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1/12/08 17:28:11


RW

ALTERNATIVE JOBS | CASE STUDIES

Ticker

say this is necessarily a downside and you do get used to it. As I live on the opposite side of town to my office, I think the early starts have been a challenge in the past!

Andrew J. Chrysostomou Age: 24 Degree and university: BSc in Real Estate Finance and Investment at Cass Business School. Job Title: Andrew has worked in the Corporate Finance team at Cushman & Wakefield for three years and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, specialising in Property Finance and Investment. Why did you decide upon a career in Finance? I was interested in finance at university. It was there I selected a number of property based modules and thoroughly enjoyed them. At the end of my second year I realised that a crossover between finance and property existed, both in learning material and also in the work place, and applied for an internship in Cushman & Wakefield’s Advisory Group. I spent time understanding not only the physical fundamentals of a property, but also how property investors may view an asset as income stream.

eight month placements and my previous role was in the Finance Department, where I worked in a business performance team learning about financial forecasting, budgeting and planning. I was also involved in several projects. My current role is within the Risk and Compliance Department. I am currently responsible for ensuring that relevant people are aware of their responsibilities with regards to their dealing authorities. I also ensure that when new dealing authorities are requested, that they are signed off and filed to ensure that we have an audit trail. I am also involved in projects including updating and improving the current dealing authority process, monitoring the Standard Life Investments website to ensure that it is compliant with the Financial Services Authority guidelines, and I will soon be co-ordinating a secure workplace initiative.

The ticker is a hori bar shown at the to browser window w contains a customis text and URL web-

What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to succeed in your job? Like any industry, I think you will need to be hard working, a good team player, enthusiastic, innovative, and hungry for success to be a good professional. Unlike many other industries, I think you need to keep an open mind. You will be exposed to different people, different working styles, and more importantly, different departments very early on in your career which appear unrelated. It is only after a couple of years that you realise that there is a degree of crossover in all these departments. Understanding how all these departments work in conjunction with each other is what makes a good surveyor.

What would be your best piece of advice for graduates considering a career in property? Be prepared for a long and exciting journey. You will rotate departments up to three times in your first two years of joining the firm. You may not always be put in your first choice, but try and soak up as much as possible. Property is a knowledge and contact based industry. Stay in contact with all your friends from university who may be working at rival firms. Also be early for meetings and always get a business card.

Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? My aspiration was to become a physiotherapist, however, due to the current lack of employment in that area, I decided to look at a career that could offer me a challenge as well as the financial security that I was craving. Financial services is a huge industry and a major area of employment within Edinburgh. I decided that I wanted to work for a local company that could offer me further training along with a competitive package, and found that financial services far outweighed any other industry with regards to both. Would you undertake further education to gain promotion? I am learning every single day and I have been on many courses since commencing my employment with Standard Life Investments, all of which have benefited me greatly with regards to my development. As part of the graduate programme, I am also required to study for the Investment Administration Qualification (IAQ) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC). This is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain industry recognised qualifications, and to help me develop my knowledge of an industry that I knew very little about prior to working in it. I hope to continue learning and undertaking further training throughout my entire career as I believe it is vital to my development.

Banner Advertisements

These banners can be added on b hand sides of the digital magazine either next to a relevant page, a n throughout the entire publication

What type of work are you doing? I work in the Corporate Finance team which sits within Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Group. I specialise in raising finance for property investors to acquire commercial real estate. Once I understand what my client’s main driver is, I proceed to speak to a number of different banks to source the most competitive loan terms. Most of my work is numbers based, comparing different offers and analysing potential returns for my client. What do you enjoy most about your job and are there any downsides? My job allows me to interact with all relevant professionals involved in completing a property transaction. I am exposed to a wide range of skill sets which help me to understand the key drivers for each party. I obviously spend a lot of my time discussing the deal with the bank and my client. As the deal progresses I will also liaise with the valuer, and both legal advisors for the vendor and purchaser. The finance arm of a property advisory firm usually works slightly longer hours. I wouldn’t

Rhiannon McComb

Age: 30 Degree and university: Studied Sport and Exercise Science at Napier University, Edinburgh Work title: Investment Operations Trainee, Standard Life. What do you actually do? I am a graduate trainee on the Investment Operations programme. The programme involves three,

What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? I like the people that I meet daily, the approachability of my colleagues, and the relaxed atmosphere of the office. Sometimes the workload along with studying can be overwhelming, but with good organisation and communication with my manager/ colleagues this can be managed. What skills do you need in order to succeed? The responsibility is yours to complete your projects and work, gain your qualifications, and drive your career in the direction that you want it to go, therefore organisation and self motivation are key.

8 RW WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM

REALW.DEMO09.SIDEBANNERS.indd 38

21/1/09 11:32:47


alternative jobs | case studies

horizontale top of the w which omisable list of web-links. Stephen John Ratcliffe

Age: 26 years Degree and university: University of Edinburgh – Business Studies MA (Hons) Work title: Graduate Trainee, sales and marketing for Standard Life Investments’ Distribution & Client Services (D&CS). What do you actually do? I circulate around the D&CS area every six months. Currently I am a Trainee Project Manager, working in the company’s Change Dept. In this role I am working on my own project, which is to analyse a certain area of the business, present the results, investigate and propose solutions, and finally to plan the implementation of the solution. It is an excellent opportunity - I have a lot of responsibility and get to liaise with many areas of the business. Prior to this role, I have also been a Market Research Analyst and a Business Development Analyst, and I am soon to become a Trainee Product Manager. The aim of the programme is to provide us with a strong all-round knowledge of the D&CS business area, forming solid foundations for us to progress our career.

What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? There are many ups to being part of the graduate programme at Standard Life Investments, but what I like most is the fact that we are placed into actual roles as opposed to just shadowing fellow colleagues. In every placement, we are expected to add value and take on considerable responsibility. It makes you feel that you are a valued member of the team and are contributing to the success of the company. The only downside I can think of is that as soon as you settle into your role you are moved onto the next placement. However, when you consider the overall scope and benefits of the graduate programme it is a small price to pay... Moreover, it means that you rarely become uninterested in what you are doing and the days fly by! What skills do you need to succeed? The ability to listen and learn from those around you is essential. Although everyone is there to help and there is a comprehensive training programme, the motivation to work on your own initiative is also key. Generally, a good down-to-earth, hard working attitude will put you in good stead in whatever placement you are in. What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector? Do your research into the industry and company, but most importantly be honest and be yourself in the interview stages. v

RW

you have to be very precise, but still sufficiently fast in your analysis. you need to be sharp when communicating.

What do you actually do? I work in a team to evaluate opportunities for our clients, such as acquisitions or mergers with other players in the same sector, disposal of non-core divisions, potential listings for private companies, and de-listing of companies which are poorly valued by the market. Were you always interested in the financial sector as a career? I have always been fascinated by financial markets and the mechanisms behind them. In particular, I wanted to learn how to value a company and what the drivers were behind stock performances. I admired the dynamic global profile of financial markets and the people working in them. Would you undertake further study to gain promotion? I would consider it in order to further increase my knowledge. However, at present, my job is a continuous and sufficient source of learning. What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? The opportunity to get to know the industry and develop a strong understanding of corporate finance. Also, the international atmosphere you experience working with people from every corner of the planet, from Argentina to Australia, and the dynamic working environment. The downsides are the multi-tasking and working long hours! You have to learn how to balance your work and social life.

on both left-hand and rightzine. You can choose to appear a number of pages (section) or tion. Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? The financial sector had not always appealed to me, but saying that, I had no set preferences for any industry. I think it was more the company than the actual industry that made me enter the financial sector. Standard Life Investments is a top investment house with international operations, and it has an excellent reputation and is known to invest considerably in its employees’ development and wellbeing. The graduate programme seemed like a superb opportunity. Would you undertake further study to progress your career? Yes. My degree was excellent in opening doors, but unfortunately I believe it only gets you so far these days. I am currently working on a couple of investment qualifications, which will help progress my career in the short-term. In the long-term, I hope to achieve an MBA and perhaps further investment qualifications.

Luigi Brambilla

Age: 24 Degree and university: Master in International Management at Bocconi University, Milan and ESADE University, Barcelona. Bachelor in Economics at Bocconi University, Milan. Semester Abroad at Emory University, Atlanta, USA. Job Title: Investment Banking Analyst – Mergers and Acquisition, Italian Coverage, Barclays

What skills do you need to succeed at what you do? You have to be very precise, but still sufficiently fast in your analysis. You need to be concise and sharp when communicating; you really have to get straight to the point. You must be open-minded and embrace cultural differences and maintain a positive attitude. Finally in this sector you must be organised and methodical. Also, you must never lose your sense of humour! What advice would you give graduates wishing to come into this sector? Self-assess your skills and interests and, above all, find out what really motivates you. Gather as much information as you can, ask questions and speak to alumni, friends, and professors. Make a reasoned and passionate decision and work around obstacles - be persistent! n

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2/12/08 10:17:26


RW

alternative jobs | case studies

say this is necessarily a downside and you do get used to it. As I live on the opposite side of town to my office, I think the early starts have been a challenge in the past!

Andrew J. Chrysostomou Age: 24 Degree and university: BSc in Real Estate Finance and Investment at Cass Business School. Job Title: Andrew has worked in the Corporate Finance team at Cushman & Wakefield for three years and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, specialising in Property Finance and Investment. Why did you decide upon a career in Finance? I was interested in finance at university. It was there I selected a number of property based modules and thoroughly enjoyed them. At the end of my second year I realised that a crossover between finance and property existed, both in learning material and also in the work place, and applied for an internship in Cushman & Wakefield’s Advisory Group. I spent time understanding not only the physical fundamentals of a property, but also how property investors may view an asset as income stream.

What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to succeed in your job? Like any industry, I think you will need to be hard working, a good team player, enthusiastic, innovative, and hungry for success to be a good professional. Unlike many other industries, I think you need to keep an open mind. You will be exposed to different people, different working styles, and more importantly, different departments very early on in your career which appear unrelated. It is only after a couple of years that you realise that there is a degree of crossover in all these departments. Understanding how all these departments work in conjunction with each other is what makes a good surveyor. What would be your best piece of advice for graduates considering a career in property? Be prepared for a long and exciting journey. You will rotate departments up to three times in your first two years of joining the firm. You may not always be put in your first choice, but try and soak up as much as possible. Property is a knowledge and contact based industry. Stay in contact with all your friends from university who may be working at rival firms. Also be early for meetings and always get a business card.

Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? My aspiration was to become a physiotherapist, however, due to the current lack of employment in that area, I decided to look at a career that could offer me a challenge as well as the financial security that I was craving. Financial services is a huge industry and a major area of employment within Edinburgh. I decided that I wanted to work for a local company that could offer me further training along with a competitive package, and found that financial services far outweighed any other industry with regards to both. Would you undertake further education to gain promotion? I am learning every single day and I have been on many courses since commencing my employment with Standard Life Investments, all of which have benefited me greatly with regards to my development. As part of the graduate programme, I am also required to study for the Investment Administration Qualification (IAQ) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC). This is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain industry recognised qualifications, and to help me develop my knowledge of an industry that I knew very little about prior to working in it. I hope to continue learning and undertaking further training throughout my entire career as I believe it is vital to my development.

What type of work are you doing? I work in the Corporate Finance team which sits within Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Group. I specialise in raising finance for property investors to acquire commercial real estate. Once I understand what my client’s main driver is, I proceed to speak to a number of different banks to source the most competitive loan terms. Most of my work is numbers based, comparing different offers and analysing potential returns for my client. What do you enjoy most about your job and are there any downsides? My job allows me to interact with all relevant professionals involved in completing a property transaction. I am exposed to a wide range of skill sets which help me to understand the key drivers for each party. I obviously spend a lot of my time discussing the deal with the bank and my client. As the deal progresses I will also liaise with the valuer, and both legal advisors for the vendor and purchaser. The finance arm of a property advisory firm usually works slightly longer hours. I wouldn’t

eight month placements and my previous role was in the Finance Department, where I worked in a business performance team learning about financial forecasting, budgeting and planning. I was also involved in several projects. My current role is within the Risk and Compliance Department. I am currently responsible for ensuring that relevant people are aware of their responsibilities with regards to their dealing authorities. I also ensure that when new dealing authorities are requested, that they are signed off and filed to ensure that we have an audit trail. I am also involved in projects including updating and improving the current dealing authority process, monitoring the Standard Life Investments website to ensure that it is compliant with the Financial Services Authority guidelines, and I will soon be co-ordinating a secure workplace initiative.

Rhiannon McComb Age: 30 Degree and university: Studied Sport and Exercise Science at Napier University, Edinburgh Work title: Investment Operations Trainee, Standard Life. What do you actually do? I am a graduate trainee on the Investment Operations programme. The programme involves three,

What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? I like the people that I meet daily, the approachability of my colleagues, and the relaxed atmosphere of the office. Sometimes the workload along with studying can be overwhelming, but with good organisation and communication with my manager/ colleagues this can be managed. What skills do you need in order to succeed? The responsibility is yours to complete your projects and work, gain your qualifications, and drive your career in the direction that you want it to go, therefore organisation and self motivation are key.

8 RW WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM

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alternative jobs | case studies

RW

Reporting & Statistics ‘ What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? There are many ups to being part of the graduate programme at Standard Life Investments, but what I like most is the fact that we are placed into actual roles as opposed to just shadowing fellow colleagues. In every placement, we are expected to add value and take on considerable responsibility. It makes you feel that you are a valued member of the team and are contributing to the success of the company. The only downside I can think of is that as soon as you settle into your role you are moved onto the next placement. However, when you consider the overall scope and benefits of the graduate programme it is a small price to pay... Moreover, it means that you rarely become uninterested in what you are doing and the days fly by!

you have to be very precise, but still sufficiently fast in your analysis. you need to be sharp when communicating.

Our digital magazines are fully tracked and managed with a comprehensive reporting tool – including the most sought after link activity – including how many click throughs any specific link has received. We can even track the specific date / time when the link was clicked when you need them.

Stephen John Ratcliffe

Age: 26 years Degree and university: University of Edinburgh – Business Studies MA (Hons) Work title: Graduate Trainee, sales and marketing for Standard Life Investments’ Distribution & Client Services (D&CS).

What do you actually do? I circulate around the D&CS area every six months. Currently I am a Trainee Project Manager, working in the company’s Change Dept. In this role I am working on my own project, which is to analyse a certain area of the business, present the results, investigate and propose solutions, and finally to plan the implementation of the solution. It is an excellent opportunity - I have a lot of responsibility and get to liaise with many areas of the business. Prior to this role, I have also been a Market Research Analyst and a Business Development Analyst, and I am soon to become a Trainee Product Manager. The aim of the programme is to provide us with a strong all-round knowledge of the D&CS business area, forming solid foundations for us to progress our career.

Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? The financial sector had not always appealed to me, but saying that, I had no set preferences for any industry. I think it was more the company than the actual industry that made me enter the financial sector. Standard Life Investments is a top investment house with international operations, and it has an excellent reputation and is known to invest considerably in its employees’ development and wellbeing. The graduate programme seemed like a superb opportunity. Would you undertake further study to progress your career? Yes. My degree was excellent in opening doors, but unfortunately I believe it only gets you so far these days. I am currently working on a couple of investment qualifications, which will help progress my career in the short-term. In the long-term, I hope to achieve an MBA and perhaps further investment qualifications.

What skills do you need to succeed? The ability to listen and learn from those around you is essential. Although everyone is there to help and there is a comprehensive training programme, the motivation to work on your own initiative is also key. Generally, a good down-to-earth, hard working attitude will put you in good stead in whatever placement you are in. What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector? Do your research into the industry and company, but most importantly be honest and be yourself in the interview stages. v

What do you actually do? I work in a team to evaluate opportunities for our clients, such as acquisitions or mergers with other players in the same sector, disposal of non-core divisions, potential listings for private companies, and de-listing of companies which are poorly valued by the market. Were you always interested in the financial sector as a career? I have always been fascinated by financial markets and the mechanisms behind them. In particular, I wanted to learn how to value a company and what the drivers were behind stock performances. I admired the dynamic global profile of financial markets and the people working in them. Would you undertake further study to gain promotion? I would consider it in order to further increase my knowledge. However, at present, my job is a continuous and sufficient source of learning. What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? The opportunity to get to know the industry and develop a strong understanding of corporate finance. Also, the international atmosphere you experience working with people from every corner of the planet, from Argentina to Australia, and the dynamic working environment. The downsides are the multi-tasking and working long hours! You have to learn how to balance your work and social life.

Luigi Brambilla Age: 24 Degree and university: Master in International Management at Bocconi University, Milan and ESADE University, Barcelona. Bachelor in Economics at Bocconi University, Milan. Semester Abroad at Emory University, Atlanta, USA. Job Title: Investment Banking Analyst – Mergers and Acquisition, Italian Coverage, Barclays

What skills do you need to succeed at what you do? You have to be very precise, but still sufficiently fast in your analysis. You need to be concise and sharp when communicating; you really have to get straight to the point. You must be open-minded and embrace cultural differences and maintain a positive attitude. Finally in this sector you must be organised and methodical. Also, you must never lose your sense of humour! What advice would you give graduates wishing to come into this sector? Self-assess your skills and interests and, above all, find out what really motivates you. Gather as much information as you can, ask questions and speak to alumni, friends, and professors. Make a reasoned and passionate decision and work around obstacles - be persistent! n

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