1. You started your career at Reyker, how did this role come about and how were you able to move up from a Specialist to a Manager?
I was very fortunate to find a company like Reyker that looks to hire young talent and provide the training needed to progress. I was approached by a recruiter who was working on a computing role but after we sat down and spoke about my interests and prospects, she knew that I was a better fit for Reyker. In any small company, opportunity will arise when restructuring occurs. In my case, a close colleague of mine moved firms, allowing me to gain more responsibility and take on the managerial title.
2. How are you finding your role at BlackRock and what does your job involve day-to-day?
I am part of the Strategic Product Management team at BlackRock and I project manage the launch of new active mutual funds as well as closures and repositionings. My day-to-day involves hosting project calls, developing new fund propositions and liaising with various stakeholders throughout the business. I love this aspect of the role; I am constantly meeting new people and learning about different areas of the firm.
3.What areas of your work get you excited or feel driven to succeed and do well?
I love technology and finding new ways to improve our processes through technology. The capability of our systems is mind blowing.
4. What work-related achievement are you most proud of?
In my first role, I helped to design a trade management system that was used by the dealing team within the business. You can really make a name for yourself at a firm if you go above and beyond your normal responsibilities and show your versatility.
5. How do you cope with work pressures and managing a healthy work-life balance? / how do you unwind?
I quickly found out that if you don’t leave the pressures of your role in the office, it can swallow you up. I’m very good at switching off and allowing myself to relax. I captain an amateur football side on a Saturday, which is probably more stressful than work, trying to get 14 blokes to stay in on a Friday night.
6. Where do you think/hope you will be, career and/or personally, in 5 years time?
I really feel like I’ve found the right company in BlackRock. I was always under the impression that I’d move around from role to role after every few years but I can’t see how I’d top my current environment. I’m always interested to learn about new areas of the business though. I really enjoyed the challenge of moving from structured products to the asset management industry.
7. How has your degree from SUMS helped with your career, what areas specifically (if any)?
A basic understanding of the industry and concepts like bond pricing, FX and derivatives is incredibly useful. You can never substitute theory for experience but you can set yourself up with a platform to succeed at work. I can specifically remember option pricing modules from my course that helped me to understand structured products that I worked on at Reyker.
8. What things do you miss most about SUMS and The University generally?
University was such an important step for me to take. I matured so much in my four years there and none more so than my final year with SUMS. I loved the lecturers; they were all so friendly and took a vested interest in my progress. Sheffield is such a special place.
9. Finally, what advice would you give to a student who wants to break into a career in investments or financial services?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up. Future employers love to see progress and promotion. Take pride in your work and the way you present yourself to your colleagues. It’s important to gain their respect as well as becoming their friend. Finally, make sure you take an active interest in your work; open an investment portfolio, read the FT or take the IMC. It really comes across when you interview.