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Alumni Track Career Paths Into Finance

Monday, 27 November 2017

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During the Year 13 boys’ recent SPACE session, two Old Boys reconnected with the School in order to provide an interesting and informative glimpse into their careers. This was particularly interesting for the Year 13s, as both speakers admitted that they hadn’t really known what their career path would be at the age of eighteen.

Both of the talks were aided by technology: connecting via Skype allowed Nick Lord to speak to pupils live from Singapore, while Raj Apte sent a pre-recorded message about his work in the City.

Nick Lord attended Bolton School from 1982 to 1989. He explained to pupils that when he left the Boys’ Division he didn’t know what he ultimately wanted to do: he studied Politics and Parliamentary Studies at Leeds University because it was something he was interested in, but added that he felt it was his Masters degree in European Studies at Cambridge that gave him more options. After finishing his studies, he worked for banks in the City, working his way up from associate and increasing his responsibility until he was running his own team. In 2006, he decided to do something different: he wanted to travel and had an interest in Asia, so he moved to Hong Kong to head the Asian Banks Equity Research team for Macquarie Bank, focusing on Chinese banking stocks. Eleven years later, he is still in that region and is now and head of South East Asian banks research with Morgan Stanley in Singapore.

He talked about the importance of enjoying the work he does and said that his interests at school, such as his involvement in the debating society and his love of essay subjects, are reflected in what he now does for a living. He advised the Year 13 students to look at their favourite subjects and clubs to help them gain an insight into potential future career paths. He also emphasised that the students of today will have lots of opportunities to experiment and find out what job they want to do.

He also talked about the things he looks for in potential candidates when hiring, such as work experience, internships and being a well-rounded individual. He answered questions from students about what interests him about his job and what gets him to go out to work every day.

Raj Apte was a student in the Boys’ Division from 1982 to 1992 and gave a fascinating insight into how his career flourished. He originally studied English and German Law at Liverpool University, including studying for a year in Germany. He described his year abroad as one of the best years of his life and encouraged students to take advantage of a year abroad if they are able to do so. He then completed a Masters degree in German law, and so is dual-qualified as a Solicitor and a German attorney-at-law (Rechtsanwalt). After his studies, he wanted to join a ‘magic circle’ law firm: one of the top five law firms in Europe.

He advised that in law there are two choices: high-street lawyer or city lawyer, and that although it’s possible to be a ‘city lawyer’ in cities like Manchester and Birmingham, the top law firms in London and globally are in a different ballgame: much more challenging, but also more rewarding.

After joining ‘magic circle’ law firm Allen & Overy, Raj had the opportunity of working with fascinating billion-pound deals, including financing the London Eye. This eventually led to one of his clients, Morgan Stanley, offering him a position, and his transition from a lawyer working on loan and bond operations to a job in banking, specifically leveraged finance, the financing behind mergers and acquisitions.

He was fortunate to keep his job through the financial crisis of 2008, and following this new opportunities arose, particularly in restructuring, which Raj described as “fixing broken companies”: advising companies that can’t pay back their loans to avoid them going out of business, allowing jobs to be preserved. He is now a Partner at EY and Head of Restructuring for Central and Southeast Europe.

In his final comments, Raj advised the Year 13 students to think about the things they enjoy, study something that interests them and find a career through those things, which they can then develop. He said that the City can offer challenges and provide massive rewards, but warned of the trade-off of very hard work that must go in to achieve success. His closing message was to find balance. He also offered to take any questions from students via email through the Development Office.

The Old Boys’ summaries of their career journeys and their very different pathways into finance, both via subjects that they found interesting, was very useful for the Year 13 students who are currently considering potential options for their own future.

For a final session in the same afternoon, students welcomed Old Boy Julian Butterworth back to School in person to talk about the dangers of alcohol.

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