The Promotion


Last week I enlightened you all with the story of how the thirty-something Single’Abulous went from loved lorn to loved up with a simple change of attitude. Inspiring stuff yeh? Its said that good things come in threes and relationships wasn’t the only aspect of my life that improved dramatically during that golden era. My career picked up considerably too. Here’s what happened.

I was working as the Back Office Manager for a small stockbroking firm. It was OK. I was given the autonomy to run my own show and I appreciated that. However the money, the glory and the more interesting work lay on the other side of the glass doors in the dealing room. It was a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side of the Chinese wall* and I wanted to roll in that fine turf.

As it was much of the Back Office function had been outsourced to a third party and my existence was about picking up their screw ups. I had time on my hands and a choice. I could faff away my time on the internet or I could put it towards self improvement. The latter seemed the more productive option so I organised a meeting with my Managing Director. Putting myself in his shiny expensive shoes, I figured he would rather have his staff ask for more work than fritter away  business hours admiring internet crumpet. (  Ioan “Hornblower” Gruffudd was my crumpet du jour at the time) Luckily my boss’ response was positive. He told me I could start helping the Research team almost immediately. Within a matter of days I was assisting a brilliant colleague with a combined PhD in physics and bio-chemistry by building a data base on bio-tech companies. I loved this as I had only just come to realize that science is actually amazing. ( And it was all without the help of Prof Brian Cox who wasn’t even a Prof back then).

Ooooooh. Here's two things I like. Disheveled Professors and rangas. (I'm so lame I can hardly believe it myself at times)

Ooooooh. Here’s two things I like. Disheveled Professors and rangas. (I’m so lame I can hardly believe it myself at times)

I was happier but there was more work to be done. The front office staff – the dealers and the analysts were meant to do on-going training which basically translated as listening to sessions on various topics and taking tests. I wasn’t asked to participate but I did anyway, casually letting the Kahuna (my cheeky nick name for the Boss – never used to his face)  when I’d passed the quizzes.  Then I had to give a presentation and with Dadabulous’ help we put together something that looked the goods. The Kahuna was impressed. Shortly after I was told I was to be trained up as a full time research analyst. Wooooooooo! I didn’t know at the time that the Head of Research was less than thrilled about this. Nevertheless under the Kahuna’s instructions gave hours of his time to training me and within about three months I was productive.

The Kahuna (No not quite)

The Kahuna (No not quite)

I would never compare this role to a health professional, service person, school teacher or social worker. It’s not like what you do on a day to day basis affects people’s lives . If you mess up the only thing at stake is a bit of money. Having said that it is still not a easy job. The skill set needed is broad. You have to be mathematically competent  to handle all the complex financial modelling on spreadsheets the size of Gina Rinehart’s backside. You also have to be able to write in a way that makes complex and sometimes try material not only palatable but compelling. If that is not enough you have to articulate and confident enough to schmooze CEOs into giving away valuable information and to convince Fund Managers into buying the stocks you have recommended from your dealers. Often you have to host investment presentations which means speaking publicly. Scary shite.

The dealing staff (nope just kidding again)

The dealing staff (nope just kidding again)

The most challenging thing is the way the dealing staff looked to you to be an omnipotent guru on every single thing that went down in your sector. If something significant came through the news feeds like a company releasing an annual report or making an acquisition, you were given approximately 10 minutes to think about it, do some “rough back of the envelope” calculations and give an opinion on how the market would react. The dealers would be on the phone immediately to pass your wisdom on to the Fund manager clients.

Two years into the job I was stressed and tired. On the other hand I liked that in social situations I could talk about my work and actually have people express an interest in it. In retrospect I think some people were hoping I was going to drop a few hot tips. Overall I felt my work was improving and that I had “better stuff in me”. Anyhow then I went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like getting knocked up.

If there’s a moral to this blog piece its that “if you don’t ask you dont get”.



* Sorry for the use of industry jargon. In business, a Chinese wall is an information barrier implemented within a firm organization to prevent exchanges of information that could cause conflicts of interest. For example, a Chinese wall may be erected to separate and isolate persons who make investment decisions from persons who are privy to undisclosed material information which may influence those decisions. (Wiki)

33 thoughts on “The Promotion

  1. WOW! I feel totally inadequate now in my past life of picking fabrics for curtains but you’re right, if you want to get ahead you have to be proactive. Note to self: you’re also too old to sleep with the boss now.

  2. @mymidlifemayhem – surely that depends on the age of the boss?
    I love that term Chinese wall – I might use that in day to day language….isn’t it funny how you just have to ask? And yet we so rarely do?

  3. I so totally get this. I work in banking and I expressed my interest recently and have been setting up meetings for what I’d like to do. Next minute – I now have a new initiative to roll out and facilitate! as well as being involved in other roles. Who knew little old me would be deemed capable?? So I’m really happy at the moment – but also exhausted. Xx

  4. I love how you asked and you received !!! Good for you.
    Have the best day !

  5. A great lesson in life, if you don’t ask you will never know.

  6. What an interesting role that must have been and I agree, you have to be cheeky, outgoing and demanding to get where you want, ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman! xx

  7. Yes very wise words you just never know if you never ask.
    leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT

  8. This lesson is something I have learnt late in my career maybe a little too late as after having two kids and some time out of the workforce it is certainly a challenge getting back in. I often wonder if I had of been more confident and put myself out there more while I was working I would have more to talk about in my CV…Thank you for this reminder though! Have a great week!

    • Yes – well I am in a similar situation having been out of the workforce for a few years (unless you count helping my husband’s business and a three month casual role). I need to take my own advice here.

  9. Your reference to the Chinese wall makes me think of the phrase ‘may as well be speaking Chinese’ – because that’s how I generally feel about stockbroking and financial information in general. It’s a whole world of jargon that just washes around me while I watch my bank accounts deplete! Sounds like you were really good at it though. And it’s gotta feel good to be an omnipotent guru, even if it’s only a perceived one!

  10. I can just see you being a total ball breaker! It would be such a tough industry – just like sales in IT. And I agree – if you can play that whole “boys club” game, you’re totally in.

  11. So true – “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Thanks for this fascinating insight into this industry, sounds like way too much pressure for me. Also interesting that you like Brian Cox – personally I find his girly lips a little off putting – but maybe that’s just me.

  12. Wow, that is really impressive. I have no mind for anything mathematical and I married an accountant who loves the share market. He tries to talk to me about it and I glaze over. It must be really hard to leave a career you’re good at and love to do the whole motherhood thing. I didn’t have one, so it wasn’t as hard a transition for me.

    • Alot of people think they cant do anything mathematical but they really can if they give it a go. Anyhow it wasn’t so bad leaving stockbroking. I needed a break and was tired of the agro. As it turned out, I left at the perfect time because the GFC hit the year after.

  13. The only stupid question is a question unasked. Sounds like you rocked the socks off them!

  14. WOW! Like, wow! You must be real smart. I like that in my women xx

  15. Maths and spreadsheets… Urghhh but GO YOU. How awesome that you worked your way through that glass ceiling to get the job you wanted. You would have rocked it with your ‘stern Brenda’ face. 😉 You’re quite right though. I feign terror about maths, but put them in some sensible context, like in a month-end report, and the financials all make perfect sense. So glad you linked up this post. Been meaning to come back and comment on it all week, then you kindly dropped it right on my blog!

  16. Love it. I oscillate between being totally work gung-ho, and tired of it all. I think if home life is calm and uninteresting I get more inspired with work and taking on new and exciting things, but if home is go go go, I prefer to put emphasis on that. Which is fair enough, but I don’t seem to be quite dedicated to heading in any particular direction.

  17. I also read this earlier in the week and it fired me right up! It’s about having the balls to back yourself – I can think of so many times I could have put myself forward or asked for a new opportunity but didn’t because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough. It’s such utter bollocks but it’s hard to evict from you brain once it’s taken root. This was exactly the reminder I needed that you need to ask and not just expect people to hand you the opportunities yuo want.

    In other news… I have a picture of Gordon Gekko in my “Rise of the Machines” post (about the fax that stages a hostile take over). It comes up in my search terms EVERY FREAKIN DAY! So don’t be surprised if it starts popping up on yours.

  18. That must’ve done a ton for your self confidence. It’s great when merit is recognised and pays off. Well done to both you and your boss because frankly I’ve worked in too many places where people are if not passive aggressive and self-serving, then downright sabotaging. And I don’t miss any of that effed up shit for a second.

  19. Omg you got knocked up by Charlie Sheen?!

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