So here goes....
Let's start with my background, this has always been a good story, and my older friends still get a kick out of people asking me where I’m from.
So, my mother is half French, half German, and my father is Egyptian; I was born in the UK, then moved to Switzerland, France, Germany and Egypt, then back to the UK for my last year of undergrad and post-grad.
This background has given me my language skill (English, French German, Arabic and some Spanish), but also helped me adapt to change in environment rapidly; building new social circles, finding my way around and so on.
When it comes to studies; I undertook an undergraduate degree in International Business Administration, mostly because I wanted to do something in banking, but had no idea how all that really worked; turns out a degree in business, even with finance as an option, doesn’t explain the inner workings of a bank, or any financial institution for that matter.
So I went on to do a Masters in Finance at the University of East London, worked hard, and took an interest in machine learning and neural networks.
Now I knew how to price options and calculate risk, I also knew how to build an algorithm that would forecast exchange rates to a certain degree of accuracy (not all that accurate).
I also made sure to get summer internships in a variety of different sectors over the years, just to get some work experience on my CV.
All sounds pretty rosy right?
Now the problem was, that what I thought an employer wanted to see on my CV, What my university career center wanted me to write on a ‘skill based CV’ and what an actual text scanning algorithm was programmed to look for as I submitted my CV to Barclays, JP Morgan, UBS and many others, were very different things.
All this ended me in a sales role for a small CFD brokerage in London, which paid me almost entirely in commission. Probably the longest hours I've ever worked, with the least pay. But it did teach me how to work the system. It also taught me the importance of having a solid network, valuing whom you know, and how well you know them.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I turned into Jordan Belfort and made millions, because I didn’t. Truth is, Sales is hard and tedious, and life in London is expensive.
All this went on for around two years, after which I somehow found myself being interviewed by a small brokerage in Singapore, who’d apparently received my CV from a friend of a friend (work your network)!
Next thing you know, I’d moved out of my apartment in London, broken up with my girlfriend, spent 2 hours on the phone trying to cancel my Internet subscription and I WAS OFF!
Truth is the job in Singapore was exactly the same gig I’d been doing so far; long hours and shit pay.
But that wasn’t what I was there for. The job had given me an apartment for a few months, they’d paid for my flight, and they’d organised my visa for me. All I had to do was build up a network, and find my way to something better. Within 6 months I’d found my place, within 8 I’d quit my job and joined a small startup that was bent on disrupting the banking sector, as we know it.
It took me all of 3 years from finishing my masters slaving through work to finally find my place; and it wasn’t because I had a degree, it wasn’t because I’d worked my way up a corporate ladder, it was because I put value on surrounding myself with the right people, going to the right events, learning, educating myself and finding inspiration somewhere else than in my day to day.
Nowadays you can’t expect to get where you want thinking like you did 2 years ago; you need to adapt and quickly.
If there’s an open position somewhere and it requires you to learn how to code Python, learn it!
If you need to pass a certain exam to get promoted, sit it!
If you get the chance to move abroad, GO!
At DOTs our goal is not only to inspire you to move and meet people, we are here to give you the tools to build a solid foundation and give you the courage to take this leap.
We’re not telling you it’ll be easy, but we promise it’ll be worth it.