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).
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.
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 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)