Career Insights from a SOAS Alum Investment Banker
From his path of over 30 years in global investment banking, in Japanese, Spanish, US and British banks, Neville gave us some top tips and insights for treading our own career journey.
Crucial factors include:
· building and maintaining networks as we progress
· knowing ourselves, our strengths and what we are offering
· presenting ourselves and our story confidently in a way that invites others to engage
Neville got into investment banking as an area where he could use his intellect to engage with challenges and problems, and solve them.
He highlighted the key importance of networking – through his career, he has picked up, maintained, used and benefitted from thousands of contacts gained throughout that time. Anticipate that these contacts will also move employers, and so could be helpful in their new role – most people will be helpful if they are asked.
Use many methods to make these connections: the internet, LinkedIn, face to face. You need to have self-motivation and drive, you can be cheeky as long as you are constructive but not rude. You also need to know what makes you unique, and be able to communicate that. If you are not having success, take a step back, refocus, reanalyse and come up with a new strategy. You likely need to think of another angle, another way in.
Use these connections wisely – be persistent but don’t annoy. The world today is a small place.
Knowing and presenting ourselves
Selling yourself is a key skill. It sounds easy, but it takes practice and hard work. It is important to know your own story and strengths: what are you offering? What are you selling? What makes you unique? A bank might offer 80 places, get 20,000 applications. Make your application stand out, make your CV unique to catch the recruiters eye. Learn how to present yourself: this is important in interviews, as well as important in networking. You might be nervous, but can you hold those nerves and make a good impression of yourself. Think about your poise in communication, and also your appearance. One way to do this is practice! Have practice interviews in front of someone else. The more you become familiar with telling your own story, the more confident you become, and the more relaxed too.
Make the most of the time you have here as a student! Learn an extra language – this is always very useful commercially. Learn a broad set of skills here, learn to present. Get work experience and internships – these are so useful for understanding the environment and the sector, and perfect for making contacts. Also, engage fully with the unique cultural perspective here at SOAS.
We also offer plenty of face to face support in the Careers Service – with quick query appointments available every afternoon, and mock interview sessions to help you prepare for that all important opportunity!
Also, keep an eye on our events page for opportunities to network with employers on campus.
Many thanks to Neville, a valuable member of our alumni network, for his personal insights into the sector, which SOAS students can use in their own careers. We are looking forward to Neville returning to SOAS in the near future to share his views, and work with students.
Alice Moon, Careers Consultant