Speaking at the opening of the “Finance in New York” Transcontinental Programme, Marianne Schenk, Director of Talent Management at Credit Suisse, New York, gave some key insights into how the newly arrived students should think about managing a career in the finance industry. With 23 years of experience of working in the Zurich based financial services firm, Ms. Schenk was able to share her knowledge of working in a highly international and fast moving context on both sides of the Atlantic.
Career Mobility and training
Ms. Schenk began her talk by addressing the question of career mobility. Despite working for the same company for 23 years, she said that this had not hindered her mobility. Indeed, internal mobility witihin the same firm can be just as varied and interesting as changing companies. But to be able to do this, she says, “it is very important to stay on top of your game.” You should not stop learning once you have acquired your MBA. “You must keep training when you are in the workplace.”
Managing an international career
Ms. Schenk then advised the students on how they should manage an international career. She recommended taking the opportunity to go abroad. However, to get the opportunity you must:
1. Select the right employer. They must have the connections and have offices elsewhere.
2. Show your worth when you are working at your initial position. The company sending you abroad sees you as an investment. Therefore you have to to prove you are a worthy candidate to be sent abroad.
Ms. Schenk has worked in the New York office of Credit Suisse for the past 5 years.
“Of course, things are different abroad.” She says. “One must take into consideration the cultural differences that are present in each country. You will often enter situations where you see things done in a way that is different to how you expect. Or, you may find that you can’t connect with the people.”
They may have different perceptions of what is considered good or right. In a Germanic/ Swiss working environment, the process is important. Tasks must be flawlessly executed and the final goal reached the first time. If it takes a little longer to complete this process, it is not a problem.
On the other hand in an American environment, it is much more important to have a speedy process. Achieving 80% of the goal quickly is often more valued than completing a process fully and more slowly.
Succeeding in the Finance Industry
For students wishing to work in the finance industry, Ms. Schenk underlined that decision making was one of the keys to success.
“Decisions should always be informed. However, when they cannot be you will have to make assumptions. To do this effectively it is vital to know yourself.”
She added that it is also important that you take responsibility for what you have decided. There is no point blaming other people. If you make a mistake you point it out as soon as possible to avoid that it gets worse. It’s important to fix problems right away.
Adapting to an uncertain world
Another key to success is adapting to an increasingly uncertain world.
“Ambiguity is more and more present these days.” She stated “Nothing is absolutely certain and you will have to deal with a certain amount of this each day. Those who are best able to deal with ambiguity are those who do best in the business and financial sectors.”
Judgement is important here “but certainty is an illusion. It is very important to learn to judge when you must say yes or no.” Again knowing your own preferences is very important when making such decisions.
Scandals in the Finance Sector
Broaching the subject of scandals in the finance industry, Ms. Schenk stated it is important that you get to know the rules and regulations of the work you do from the start. Questions such as “Who do I go to if there is a problem?”, or “what if someone is not abiding by the rules” are vital. Even if you have just begun and are new to the place, it is important that you shed light on anything that shouldn’t be happening. Don’t use an excuse that you are new to not go forward with it.
In conclusion Ms. Schenk mentioned that in big companies it is always good to make good relations with others, as you never know when you may need their help. Though, Credit Suisse is one singular entity, Ms. Schenk said that when you work inside you see the different entities that make up the organization. Creating realtionship within different departments of the firm is very important. It is also vital to make connections outside your own company. This approach should be implemented as soon as you begin your career because she many young graduates tend to stay within cliques and not mix with others. Reaching out to others for mutual benefit is a crucial part of modern business.