Please provide an overview of your career to date at J.P. Morgan.
I joined JP Morgan from another investment bank in December 2010 as a member of a Level 1 Operate team within Technology. While the role was similar to the role I had just left, I was attracted to it as it involved working closer with the business with less of a requirement for development and coding which I was trying to move away from. The role allowed me to continue to leverage my technical skill set while providing an opportunity for me to learn more about products across a range of asset classes and the associated system flows for which we were responsible. I spent two and a half years in the role and towards the latter part of my time in the team I was consciously getting involved in work of a more strategic nature and project focus. I then made an internal move to join a Middle Office Project Management team which I am still in today.
Describe your previous role and what motivated you to look for another role.
I had moved into my first role at JPM with the intention of learning more about the products and associated system workflows within banking. I never saw my long term future as being in Technology for the simple reason that I did not enjoy the technically hands-on coding and development aspects of the function and so I was pleasantly surprised when seeing the variety and scope of roles available within Technology, many of which did not require this hands-on element. The scope of the role gave me an appreciation of the end-to-end flow from trade execution through to settlement, clearing and the post trade services we offer to our clients and it was while learning about these operational and functional processes which drive the business that I knew I wanted to move into a role where I could be more involved in those areas.
What “top tips” would you give to someone thinking of changing roles / moving locations?
Based on personal experience I always say to people that they should always give 100% in the role they are in regardless of whether or not they enjoy the role or see themselves in it for the long term. Performance is recognized both formally (e.g. PMC) and informally (e.g. word of mouth recommendations) and this is by far the best way for doors to be opened leading to future opportunities, even in places where you thought your work or role did not have a direct impact. Word of mouth is a powerful tool when managers are looking for new recruits and when this is backed up by strong performance reviews you give yourself the best opportunity to be considered for new roles.
Was someone key to helping you move?
The hiring manager of the new internal team which I joined helped me realize that my skill set was more transferable than I had realized and was able to assign a specific set of responsibilities within the new team for me based on my previous experience. This helped with the transition as it meant that I was able to work on areas which were closely aligned with my previous role. It also helped that while the move I made was across functions (Technology to Operations), many of the stakeholders were the same.
Networking is a huge part of mobility. How would you describe your experience?
I always make a conscious effort to build good working relations with those around me. In my previous support role, this could mean a seemingly trivial thing like speaking to a person face-to-face at their desk instead of sending them an e-mail. By building these relationships it not only creates an effective working environment but allows for both parties to get a greater appreciation of each other’s role. By building this picture holistically across a wide range of people you can learn more about areas which you otherwise would have no exposure to. I find this particularly true in my current role where showing an interest in other people and their roles is helping me to expand my personal network. I also actively participate in corporate driven forums e.g. graduate recruitment, mobility workstream and even playing sports as this allows networks to be built with people across different LOBs
What lessons did you learn by changing roles / moving locations (positive and negative)?
By changing roles internally I have reinforced my view that it is a great way of gaining a holistic view of the business in which we operate. Having moved across functions I have an appreciation of what is involved in a wide range of roles and I believe that this helps me in my day to day activities and when working with others. There is also a very steep learning curve to overcome too – having not had any professional background in Operations I was effectively playing catch-up from day one and this was a challenge, and remains a challenge for some aspects of the role today. However, this challenge is exactly what I wanted as not only am I continuously learning, but specifically learning about areas of the business which I am personally interested in.
I have also learned, not just by this internal move but throughout my career, that potential applicants for a role should not be restricted in their search simply by what is being described on the job specification. If there are elements of a job spec which you think you are not suitable for I would always encourage an initial conversation as upon discussion it can quickly come to light that you are a better fit than you may have realized
What’s next in your career plan?
Having been in this new team for just under a year, the intention is to continue to get some key deliverables under my belt and build up my knowledge of this area and become an SME. As per my previous role, I aim to obtain strong performance reviews for two or three years during which I can assess my place on the career path and perhaps start to focus my workload in such a way which will help me to reach my next set of goals.