A day in the life of an FD Junior Consultant

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By: Shiofra Jeyasundaram

When I first left university, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I had an honors degree in Economics and Political Science from Trinity College Dublin, but wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in. What I did know, was that I wanted to kick-start an exciting career, I wanted to continue further education, and I wanted to leave Ireland (hopefully in pursuit of an exciting life somewhere new). I always had had an interest in the global business sphere, and economics and finance by nature of my degree, so when I was offered a position with First Derivatives on the Options Graduate Programme, it felt like the perfect combination of all of the above.

Starting in FD:
The Options Graduate Programme is, in my opinion, the perfect stepping stone between leaving University and joining the working world. You gain the opportunity to move to an exciting new location and start a role with a top tier financial institution, whilst all the stressful components of making a move and starting a new job are taken care of for you (flights, accommodation, expense package to cover all living costs, etc.)
When you first start off, you are enrolled in 4-8 weeks of intensive training. This includes lectures on a variety of topics, ranging from understanding fundamental concepts within the Capital Markets Industry, to learning how to use programming languages like SQL or UNIX. You sit a series of online exams on the same topics, 20 of which must be completed within the two-year duration of the programme. For someone like me, with no tech background, these proved particularly challenging at first – but there is so much support at base in Newry that you pick it up quicker than expected. The same goes with the financial knowledge, particularly if you come from a mixed academic background that wasn’t solely a Finance degree. It’s not all hard work and no fun either! At least once a week there is a social event organised – either an official social event including activities such as bowling, football, etc., or an unofficial social event, such as the weekly Thursday night drinks with the other Grads. All in all, the time flies by and before you know it you’re ready for your first role.

Moving to Calypso:
For me, this role came a tiny bit later than I originally expected – but was certainly worth the wait. After completing the initial finance and tech training, I made the move to the Vendor Services stream. This meant a further 4-8 weeks of training, but it also provided an opportunity to expand on the tech and finance skills I had already started learning, as well as the opportunity to specialise in one Vendor System: Calypso. Calypso is a front to back end software application used by financial institutions worldwide. Whereas Financial Engineer roles can consist of a variety of roles, ranging from Project Management to Regulation and Reporting, the Vendor Stream ensured a more fin-tech based role. To me, it provided an opportunity to specialise in a niche skillset within the Industry, whilst still having the client-facing nature that comes with being a consultant. The Calypso training, like the Capital Markets Training Programme, was equally hands-on, but the consistent support on-site certainly helps you pick up the ins and outs of learning a new system. By the time January rolled around, I had completed three months of training in Newry and was keen to get on client site (and out of Ireland)! My patience certainly paid off, and before I knew it I was on a flight to Sydney, ready to start my first Calypso Consulting role in Application Support for a top global Clearing Service.

One Year On:
It has now been just over a year since then, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by. Working and living in Sydney was a total dream: in my six months there, I travelled across the East Coast of Australia from Port Douglas to Melbourne, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, watched fireworks from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and watched the Irish rugby team beat the Australian Wallabies. I lived in an apartment overlooking Darling Harbour, a ten-minute walk from work and fifteen minutes from the Sydney Opera House. I joined a GAA Team and scored a point in my first game (retired after that, thought I’d better end my Gaelic career on a high), got chased by kangaroos in a National Park, and tried a crocodile burger (can confirm it is as bad as it sounds). After six months in Australia, I left Sydney and made the move to London, to join the London-based section of the same team, for the same client. In my time in this role, I have learned a colossal amount, and continue to learn something new every day. My Calypso skills are continuously developing, as are my consultancy skills – I liaise on a daily basis with a variety of other teams and management. I have certainly grown as an individual, and also as a young professional, and I hope I will continue to do so in future.

If I could go back and give myself a bit of advice when leaving University, it would be the following: decide what’s important to you right now, and be willing to take risks, and make some compromises in order to achieve your goals. I can’t say that I thought five years ago choosing a degree in Political Science and Economics would lead me to where I am today, but I certainly can say I am happy about where I’ve ended up. If you have an interest in Finance and/or the Global Business Sphere, and you’re keen to start work in a fast-paced, high-skilled environment, possibly one based abroad, then this could very well be the right programme for you. Either way, you won’t know until you take the risk!