FD Career Stories: Preeti Chawla
By: Preeti Chawla
Since starting her career with FD in 2005, under the mentorship of the company’s late founder and CEO Brian Conlon, Preeti has worked on exciting projects across the globe, with her drive and ambition seeing her progress from support roles to project management roles. Below, Preeti shares insights on her career journey so far, her projects and achievements and mentoring a new generation of FD consultants.
I started my journey in IT at university, first studying Electronic Engineering and then completing a Masters in Embedded Systems. In both courses’ females were very much underrepresented, but engineering was in my blood and I knew that this is what I wanted to do!
I was fortunate to start my career with a job in the Financial Technology sector, joining First Derivatives in 2005. At that time, First Derivatives was still a relatively small company under the leadership of our late founder and CEO Brian Conlon. Brian was very hands-on and believing in a flat company structure, was always happy to provide mentorship and guidance to all the employees in the company, regardless of their title. I used this opportunity to learn a lot from him. Also, given the rapid expansion of the company, Brian always had more responsibility to give you when you proved capable at your assignment.
One of my early achievements was my involvement in writing the initial versions of the company’s now award-winning internal Capital Markets Training Program (CMTP). This significantly deepened my knowledge of the industry and made me appreciated how my problem solving and IT skills could be applied to the sector. I always felt at home working for FD and helped shape the company’s initial culture and diversity initiatives.
My first consultancy project was in a Fixed Income Support team, which was a great introduction to the Financial trading world. Since then I have worked on different projects for different clients around the world, including the Far East, Europe and the USA. I’ve worked on a range of exciting projects, starting from Support and moving towards project management roles. The first multi-million-pound project that I lead was implementing a ‘Follow-the-Sun’ support model for a well-known banking client. This project taught me a lot about managing multiple geographic locations, working with multiple internal and external stakeholders, integrating multiple vendor products (Smartstream, ION, WallStreet), and working with different financial products and business functions. It also gave me an opportunity to travel around the world and see how different cultures and countries work, even though we speak all the same ‘Finance and IT’ language.
In my most recent role as an Onsite Delivery Manager, I lead a team setting up the nearshore model for our client, from Front Office to Back Office covering five different business functions. Currently, the team sits at over 130 colleagues, having grown from a much smaller initial contract as the client deepens their faith in us to run more of their business. The team is based in the client offices in London and our nearshore support location (FD’s HQ in Newry, Northern Ireland). In this role, not only do I have daily C-Level meetings, but I also work closely with a lot of young colleagues and it brings me great pleasure to mentor them and watch how they progress, grow and attain their own goals as they start out on a hugely exciting high-value career, ready to take them anywhere in the world.
This is my 15th year with FD and every year I have grown both personally and professionally. Of course, there is always more to learn! One of the challenges I found in the industry is that it is still very male-dominated and having seen the female representation at management level in other companies it made me appreciate even more how progressive FD is in this respect. Coming back from maternity leave made me stronger and I now had to multi-task even more (I now had a bottle of Calpol to juggle along with my laptop and blackberry!). I have had an incredible journey at FD to date and I look forward to taking on every new opportunity to learn and grow and to pass on the benefit of my experience to a new generation of FD consultants.