In this series, SuccessGoGo interviews successful professionals from banking, consulting and law to provide helpful insights into climbing the corporate ladder. In this interview, SuccessGoGo sat down with Vivian, a private banker who manages portfolios at a Swiss bank.
What's the best part about being a banker?
Dynamic, exciting and close to the markets.
Did anything at school help prepare you for the job?
I was an economics graduate and finance and accounting modules helped to prepare me for the job and to take exams like CFA or CAIA which are pre-requisites for certain banking jobs. Also, excel skills. Excel skills honed from projects at school certainly helped at work.
In this series, SuccessGoGo interviews successful professionals from banking, consulting and law to provide helpful insights into climbing the corporate ladder. In this interview, SuccessGoGo sits down with Rachel, a management consultant who has worked in consulting firms in both London and Singapore.
What's the best part about being a consultant?
The best part is working on a variety of cases across industries and functions, and having wide exposure and experience in a variety of sectors. It is very empowering not to be pigeonholed into any single sector, and fuels my excitement to learn more and experience more.
I am also very grateful that in this field, I am able to deal with senior management from client companies from the start, whereas in other careers, you typically would not be able to interact with senior management at a junior position.
I also enjoy traveling for work and the excellent networking opportunities that I get from the constant exposure to new people on the job.
Your boss excitedly congratulates you at your promotion but upon closer look, you discover that this promotion is in name only! Or you do get a pay increase but the increase is so minimal it’s almost laughable (Eek!) What should you do in these situations? Here are 3 tips to help make the most of your situation.
1. Thank your bosses
While it is tempting to react angrily in these kinds of situations, it is in fact even more important to remain professional. That is not to say that you can’t react at all, and just brush this under the rug, in fact, you should actually convey some dismay and disappointment. This way, your bosses do know that you are not satisfied but are not offended because you handled yourself professionally. And if they don’t want to lose you, they know that at the next opportunity they should make sure to increase your compensation. In tough times, do know that pay rises aren’t personal, and it may be a cost-savings company-wide policy at the moment.
This is also a good opportunity to speak candidly with your boss about performance, where the company is heading, and how you can improve your advancement chances in the company in the longer term. All of these ground work will stand you in good stead in the next round of promotions.
5 Essential tips to make sure your resume works for you!
1. Follow submission guidelines strictly & searchable CVs
It is very important to follow submission guidelines to ensure that your CV actually makes the first cut. Make sure to stick to any word count guidelines and deadlines, and get your future employer’s name right!
Nowadays, MNCs often use automated fill CV software, which means that you should upload your resume in a word doc or searchable pdf. In such instances, it would best to stick to simple and clear formatting so the software can extract the relevant information accurately.
2. Mirror the job description
Always submit a personalized CV and cover letter. You can do so quickly and simply by tweaking the language to mirror the skills and experience requested in the job description. You can also do a quick scan and re-arrange bullet points to make sure the key points match what the job posting and the most relevant points are highlighted in your CV. Conversely, if a certain job experience or extracurricular activity is not relevant for this particular job, you can cut down this area while adding 1 -2 lines to expand other points which are relevant for this job post.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, with hundreds of law students flooding the market, grades are usually the first indicator that law firms use to shortlist their candidates.
Adopting smart study habits is very important. Ask your seniors for advice. Often, it is about having the correct mindset and determination to stick to a study schedule. Learn to understand (not just memorize or regurgitate), and enjoy the process. If you have a process-oriented mindset, results will follow.
1. Not giving context
The first mistake that many students make is to write their personal statement without context. You must always remember that you are one of thousands of applicants, and you are a foreign student. Among foreign students, there is so much diversity and differences in academic systems, life experience etc.
Be sure to explain what you are talking about first, before diving in head-first. Common terms that Singaporean students take for granted without definition include "NS", "CCAs", "JCs" etc.
1. Know what you are good at and don’t give up
Mr Ang Chin Koon is the CEO of myCK, a budget-friendly retail outlet chain around Singapore with 19+ outlets. His story in business is one full of roller-coasters, from reaching incredible heights with an almost IPO, to a nasty fall-out with family members in their family business, personal bankruptcy and an incredible rise from the ashes (a real fire was involved).
After a drawn-out family feud and bankruptcy, Mr Ang has this to say:
"I decided to go back to what I'm good at, which is to sell things. It was the only skill I had." - Mr Ang Chin Koon, CEO of myCK
From there, he re-built his retail roots and created myCK, which is doing better than ever. What we can learn from this? Even the biggest setback should never get you down. Being self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses is important. Stay positive and re-build from the ground up by focusing on your strengths. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.
It seems that every millennial nowadays has a side hustle, and wisely so! Beyond the obvious internships and accreditations, a side hustle is an excellent way to show your passion and develop skill-sets that will make you a valuable asset to any company.
1. Start a blog or freelance writing
Think of what you are absolutely passionate about and start a blog recording your observations and thoughts. Once you have taken a few baby steps of getting your blog running, go ahead and look at freelance writing opportunities. There are websites on every imaginable topic possible online, and many of them accept submissions from newbie authors.
This is a wonderful resume builder, you can link your blog and/or published articles in your resume which demonstrates your writing abilities, knowledge and savvy on the subject matter.
Office dynamics can be difficult and it is easy to overstep your boundaries without thinking. The mantra of think before you speak holds true. What you say is a reflection of who you are and in an ecosystem like the office, bad things tend to get around faster than good. Here are 5 things that you should never say at the office.
1. “That’s not my Job”
This is a very common thing that can get blurted out in the heat of the moment when your boss assigns you one too many tasks or when a coworker once again tries to throw you under the bus. Play this one carefully. If it’s your boss, you should never say that as you come across as a terrible team player. If you are genuinely swamped, a better approach could be to list your current tasks and ask your boss which you should prioritize. This demonstrates that you have a lot on your plate and you are not just shirking responsibility.
If it’s a co-worker, it would depend on your assessment of the situation. We are ultimately codependent on our colleagues, and helping someone out can pay back in the long-term. Where you can, you could use your discretion to take on others’ responsibilities. However, if someone is trying to take advantage of you, you could decline in a firm but polite manner.
Doing things outside of your perceived job scope can benefit you. You learn by doing. You might find a new niche, or by doing things outside your normal job scope, you could interact with new colleagues or bosses from another department and build new network contacts for yourself.
1. Personal Touch
Who are you? What is your favorite motivational quote? How would your friends and family describe you? Would you be able to survive stranded on an island? Use these questions to think about what makes you unique and your life story.
As a Singaporean student applying to the UK to study, you should maximize your unique background, show them your personality and your drive, and why you will help make their incoming cohort a more diverse and interesting group where everyone benefits. Use this as the central theme in your personal statement. Show the admission officer who you are and why you would be an amazing addition to the incoming intake.