J., 30, Investment Advisor for UHNW
Full disclosure: J. and I are related. But just like you can’t really tell if your parents are attractive because you’ve known them your whole life, it can be hard to find an interest in what your family does outside of the personal sphere. I vaguely knew J. worked in banking, and I had it in the back of my mind to interview him sooner or later. It’s perfect that he just happens to read this blog and offered to serve as an offset to Charlotte’s interview (she consults in risk management for banks).
What’s your job, exactly? I’m an Investment Advisor for UHNW (Ultra high-net-worth individual) at an American bank. I manage money for families or private firms. That means I need to understand what is happening in the world, in politics and in the economy, and decide to invest by buying shares or bonds on different stock markets.
What were you doing before? I was developing the range of financial products for 3 years, and I was an IT project manager for almost 3 years.
What was your first job? My first real job was IT consultant and I was coding in PL/SQL to change the parameters in trading processes for a bank in Liechtenstein. I liked the challenge, it required me to be structured and patient, so when it worked I got the same satisfaction as finishing a puzzle. It’s really good training to learn how to work independently for a few weeks and to let go when you’re facing a wall. Knowing all the steps, now that I’m on the other side of trading, helps me understand what happened when there’s a problem.
What did you study? I studied engineering after a prep class, and in my last year I specialized in project management and I interned mostly in the aviation sector.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I wanted to be a pharmacist until I was 15, then I didn’t know so I thought I needed to work hard to be able to choose later. Until I was 23 I wanted to work in buying in the aviation sector but it’s a bit of a dead end in France so I started veering towards IT, which I quite liked!
Did you ever have a mentor? I always ask for advice and my friends and I discuss the direction we’re taking. That’s what matters: always keep thinking, never take anything for granted and not to stay more than 1-2 years in a job without asking yourself these questions:
- Do I wake up most days and feel happy about what I do?
- Am I in a place (geographically) where I can find personal happiness?
- Am I ok with the life quality/salary balance?
Everyone answers these questions with their own perspective, and being able to talk about it with people who have been working in the same field for longer, as well as friends, is crucial for your own opinion to evolve.
Is there someone in particular whose career you admire? I find people who excel at politics really impressive! Politicians of course, but mostly those in an industrial or commercial context: a really sharp management of the people side of things is sometimes key to a career, and some people get it right really early.
Do you know what you want to do later? I still need to process my new role and the whole new world I’m getting into; I want to keep working in this for some time, to gain in confidence but also to build quality relationships with some of my business clients. I still want to be able to change my mind, maybe move abroad and change jobs once or twice in the future!
Are you good friends with your coworkers? I’m good friends with a handful of them, and just okay with most. That comes along with the very competitive jobs that we have; in the same way that you make friends around the coffee machine during a competition, you also look at the others and try to compare yourself. That was a bit of a brutal change from my previous job that was project based and where we would collaborate.
What’s your work schedule? I work Monday to Friday, from 9am to 9pm. It’s a bit more than at my previous job and it requires a healthy lifestyle to keep the distance, so I don’t mess around with my sleep schedule or my nutrition.
What do you wear to work? I wear a proper suit, with a tie and generally one or two accessories (pocket square, tie clip, cufflinks). I regularly go to the hairdresser, I also get a close shave. All of this is associated to the private equity banker image and I now enjoy the grooming.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a job? That’s back when I was an intern. For a major aviation firm, I had to organise an emergency arrival of aluminum pieces coming from an industrial plant in Russia, near Lake Baikal. So I had to charter a plane from there to a French airport, and I needed to contact the airports on the way for refueling and I had to pay for kerosene. The moment I got to welcome the Russian plane at 6am two days later is now a good memory.
Who should I speak to next? Antonin, who works in urban planning (Ed. note: coming soon!).