Studied: BSc Management
Place of Work: J.P Morgan
Position: Executive Director, Fixed Income and Economic Research
What were your main reasons for applying to Royal Holloway?
At the time I was applying, I was studying Business and Psychology so it felt like a Management degree was the right way forward. I wanted to stay in the South East, and go to a good university that was investing a lot in the subjects. I was interviewed at both Royal Holloway and University College London, but UCL is quite disparate, the buildings are spread out around London so you don’t really have a sense of where you are. My first impression of Royal Holloway was that this is somewhere that I would really like to live. And the second thing was really Sukhdev Johal, who interviewed my initially; he was very upbeat about the School, its ambitions and where they wanted to get to.
What were your favourite aspects of the course?
I wanted to be a management consultant at that time, so I tried to choose courses that I could really use when I left. It’s really broad, so you don’t feel like you are leading yourself down a path, but I was very conscious that you should appear to have specialised by the time you graduate – otherwise people don’t really know what to do with you. Having a narrower set of specialisms enables you to more coherently answer the question: how would you fit your degree and experience to this role.
How did you come to work at J.P Morgan?
I applied to 30 businesses, including management consultancy firms and two banks; J.P Morgan was the only bank I wanted to work for. They had an internal consultancy services graduate programme, in which you are assigned to a business head to carry out their projects and make recommendations to improve different parts of the business. It felt like a nice hybrid, because I was developing the general areas of my degree in the banking industry, focusing on the internal services. From there, I moved into working as an internal consultant in a process improvement team, looking at ways to strip out inefficiency and trying to do more with less.
What has been your career path?
After working in process improvement, I really wanted to get into the front office – which is where the real action happens. I started working for our Business Management COO group, which involved working for the heads of the Research Division. There are 650 to 700 researchers at JP Morgan, producing research across all of the asset classes we cover – equities (stocks and shares) and fixed income, it’s an integral part of the service we offer clients when you build a relationship with the firm. In the COO role I was responsible for controlling the budget, making sure the department is well funded, as well as working on all aspects of managing a business with hundreds of people (HR, Technology, Compliance, strategy). I felt like it was a good use of all the things that I had learnt so far; process improvement is good because you develop an eye for efficiency and I was beginning to develop a keen ability to negotiate, which in that role I found myself constantly doing with various parts of the bank that provide services to the research department.
How did you get to the role you are currently in?
At that stage in my career I didn’t have a strong sense of my own personal contributions to the firm’s bottom line and was very keen to take on a more commercial role. I definitely didn’t want write research or to move into sales or trading, so finding my niche took a while. Having worked in research for some time, I was able to see some opportunities to increase the revenue we were making from our research business. Though we give out the research for free to our clients, we were doing a poor job of policing that to ensure only productive clients got free access. Many opportunities existed to charge clients that fell below that threshold for access to our content and data. So I put together a business proposal to do just that, and I am now head of Research Development and Commercialisation.
Do you have any tips for current students?
A lot of the people who fall over are those who are too rigid in their career choices, so look at the range of opportunities that are in front of you right now and choose the best one.