Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Posts By: clk38

Employer Monday: Morgan Stanley

📥  Career Choice, Diversity, Employer Visit Report, Sector Insight

Welcome back to another Employer Monday blog post! If you read my previous blogs you’ll recall I often talk to employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. Remember; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this is not advice or guidance, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you!
And, as ever, bear in mind my fickle nature which is prone to falling for every new employer!
The employer visit I’ll tell you about today is a Morgan Stanley…

GETTING THERE
Who doesn’t love a trip to Canary Wharf! Super-busy, clever people running between meetings in power suits and trainers, hugging espressos and smart phones; huge, USA-style buildings made of glass, glittering in the daylight; it is rather like being in New York. But cleaner…
It’s a quick train and Tube ride to Canary Wharf from Bath – no more than 2 hours door-to-door on a good day. Finding Canary Wharf is a breeze – finding a specific bank in Canary Wharf is trickier as whilst they like their buildings big and flashy, they seem to go minimal when it comes to signage! Morgan Stanley like to trick you too – they have not one building on Canary Wharf but two! Fortunately the whole place feels no bigger than campus so even I wasn’t disorientated for long.

WHAT ABOUT MORGAN STANLEY?
It’s another huge, global investment bank right? I must admit, now I have visited a few I am slightly jaded (I know, me! The eternal optimist). They all have amazing graduate programmes, they all have opportunities by the bagful for bright, young things keen to cut their teeth in the world of Finance.
Morgan Stanley are not dissimilar; you can work in Sales and Trading, Global Capital Markets, Quantitative Finance, Investment Banking. You can do Spring Insight, Internships, Graduate Programmes.
But what I liked about Morgan Stanley was their attitude to their own staff. I heard from a chap who joined Morgan Stanley ten years ago having performed very poorly in his Zoology degree and floated between jobs and travelling for a number of months after graduation. After almost a year, he started on a graduate scheme at Morgan Stanley and hasn’t looked back. Now MD of Institutional Equity Division he admitted he still didn’t really ‘get’ finance but his job was to be good with people and win new business and Morgan Stanley had recognised in him, and enabled him to develop, this skillset to succeed.
Morgan Stanley were very clear that there ‘was no room for egos’ and the principle of working there is that you succeed and fail as a team. They have two graduate intakes per year and even these can be negotiated because they encourage new recruits to take a break or go travelling after completely their studies. One-to-one support is provided for new recruits – especially if your degree discipline is not in Finance. Morgan Stanley feel very strongly that they are recruiting the ‘right people’ (but from a mix of degree disciplines, backgrounds, etc) so if things aren’t working out they look at what they are doing wrong; have they got someone in the wrong position or department? After a period, graduates are offered the chance to move in the organisation to find a better fit.
Now I know that lots of big corporates are now talking about diversity and how they treat their staff, but looking back at Morgan Stanley’s history, it does appear that they’ve always had a bit of a social conscience; back in 1940 they raised $1.5million (that was a lot back then) for the US Committee for the Care of European Children.

So here I go again, considering a career change! I don’t have a Finance degree but I’m no Zoologist either, I’m sure there will be something…
If you fancy working somewhere like Morgan Stanley, have a peek at their website for more on Graduate Programmes and the like. And don’t forget to compare the competition; check out Goldman Sachs or Charles Schwab for a start.

 

Employer Monday: Unlocked Grads

📥  Career Choice, Employer Visit Report, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight

Hey everybody, Employer Services Manager here again – for more employer insights! If you read my previous blogs you’ll recall I often talk to employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. As I’ve said before; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice or guidance, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you! I sometimes get carried away with my giddiness at learning about new places so please make sure to double-check my account against official websites…

And also remember that whilst I am officially an adult, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and my fickle ambitions change every time I speak to a new employer!

The employer I’ll tell you about today is a bit different – Unlocked Grads.

Who are they?

Due to the nature of their business (which I’ll explain in due course), I didn’t visit Unlocked Grads but rather had lengthy conversations with them. Set up by the Ministry of Justice on the back of a 2015 commissioned report, Unlocked Grads is a relatively new organisation.

The premise of their business is basically recruiting graduates into prison jobs. It really intrigued me – I have never had ambitions to work in prisons but it definitely piqued my interest when I considered the opportunities and challenges! Surely it is rewarding to contribute to someone’s rehabilitation back into society? But at the same time, it’s all a bit scary!! And how do they make this appealing to graduates?

So what is it all about?

Unlocked Grads offer a two year programme of experience in the prison service with the opportunity to complete a masters. The scheme is open to career-changers as well as graduates and they aren’t worried about your degree discipline or previous work experience. You just need a 2:1 and some specific attributes including all the usual stuff; leadership, decision-making, resilience, motivation and then – my favourite – ‘a sense of possibility’. Their website says ‘You need to have a positive outlook and have the courage to drive forward transformational change in society as well as at an individual level’, and I think that’s really inspiring! Prison Officers don’t just jangle keys and lock people up, the British justice system is built upon the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration, so Prison Officers are also required to provide support, encouragement and ultimately a ‘role model’.
Unlocked Grads encourages graduates – who become Entry Level Prison Officers - to build positive relationships with inmates in order to encourage rehabilitation and ultimately prevent re-offending. And surely, if you get it right, that’s a pretty rewarding job?

The programme lasts for two years and then you can walk away with your Masters. Unlocked Grads are working with large corporates to identify opportunities for careers after completion. But I guess, whilst you do not have to stay with the Prison Service, they are probably hoping some will! And if you leave, they will have had enthusiastic, educated graduates who have provided two years of service as a minimum.

The first cohort started in summer 2017 so the longer term outcomes and results are yet to be seen but it is definitely one I’ll be watching. 60 new recruits took up positions in 6 prisons in and around London and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any updates or success stories and share them here. I’m guessing it looks pretty impressive on a CV? If you can hold your own in a prison environment, a corporate boardroom would seem like a breeze!

I might get to work on my ‘sense of possibility’ and consider that career change…

If prison work sounds a little out of your comfort zone, make sure you check out Teach First which is a similar programme but in schools rather than prisons!

 

Employer Monday: BlackRock

📥  Commercial Awareness, Employer Visit Report, Labour Market Intelligence, Networking, Sector Insight

Hey everybody, Employer Services Manager here again. If you read my last blog you’ll know I often visit employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. As I’ve said before; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you! A word of caution – I’m so easily impressed, I leave most places hoping they’ve a job for me!!

The visit I’ll tell you about today is a trip I took in the summer to see BlackRock.

GETTING THERE

I never mind a train ride to London. I don’t know the underground like the back of my hand but I do know it’s pretty hard to actually get lost! To get to BlackRock it was quick two-tube journey to Bank from Paddington and a short stroll. From the outside it didn’t look as spectacular as some buildings in London and I had to ask myself…

WHAT DO BLACKROCK ACTUALLY DO?

In the introduction to the day, the chap said BlackRock are the biggest Finance company we had never heard of! He wasn’t wrong. BlackRock ‘manage more money than any other investment manager in the world’. They have 13,000 employees in 70 offices across 6 continents. Despite managing £5.7trillion worth of assets in 100 countries they pride themselves on their ‘start-up’ culture and adaptability. There certainly was a ‘start-up’ feel to the BlackRock offices – no one was suited-and-booted and it felt rather relaxed. I was told they describe themselves as ‘respectfully anti-bureaucratic’ and ‘always challenging status quo’.

THE TECH SIDE

It certainly seems to go hand-in-hand nowadays that any large Finance company has a clear commitment to developing technology. At BlackRock they developed a platform called Aladdin which is used to manage global client assets and portfolios. It is a global, single-entrance platform which means that real time information can be accessed across different countries. What they’ve also decided to do is not just use Aladdin themselves but sell it to their competitors! They described this as giving competitors the ingredients but not the recipe!

In 2016, Aladdin produced an $800 million revenue for BlackRock and the analysts who work on it are known as ‘Aladdin Ninjas’!

I hadn’t given a huge amount of consideration to how companies make their forecasting but BlackRock told us about some ways and places they obtain and use data to make predictions:
• buy raw data from satellites to inform their forecasting ie, there is a direct correlation between the height of buildings in China and the global cost of steel
• using satellites to count the number of cars in a shopping mall car park in the US is an indicator of the state of the economy
• social media scraping data is used to do brand monitoring, trend watching, and sentiment/competitor analysis.

Their latest work sees them analysing the language used by CEOs to determine the relationship between language and salary!

JOBS AT BLACKROCK

1. Advisory and Client Services: These are all tech-focussed and include policy making and sector transformation, Client Solutions, Corporate, Financial markets.
2. Analytics and Risk: Including financial modelling, portfolio analysts and risk management.
3. Corporate Functions and Business Ops: Including finance, internal audit, HR, Legal and compliance, Marketing.
4. Investments: Including equity and fixed income, Liquidity, Quantum finance. (Investments make up 35% of the overall business but attract 65% of the applications.)
5. Relationship Management and Sales: Provide all clients with a single point of contact.
6. Technology: This is the largest area of Graduate Recruitment. It includes Software Engineering which is the only area of work which requires specific degree disciplines – Computer Science or Engineering.

Graduates on the Analyst programme are sent to New York for 2 weeks at the start of their programme so that they can learn all about the company and meet other graduates from all over the world. Not exactly your typical office induction!

LIFE AT BLACKROCK

BlackRock encourage work-life flexibility but don’t call it ‘work-life balance’ because late nights and weekend working will be required at some point. However, home working is also common. ‘As long as the work is done, it doesn’t matter where’, is their attitude.

They adopt ‘summer hours’ and finish at 3pm on Fridays. Casual dress is the norm around the office but people are expected to ‘dress for their client’ so often keep a spare shirt and tie on the back of the door. Students are not expected to dress particularly ‘corporate’ at Assessment Centres – apparently ‘tech people are particularly distrustful of suits’!

They do seem like a fun and supportive place to work (but I don’t doubt they expect hard working in return). There are a number of employee networks you can opt in to:
• Families @ BlackRock
• Veterans
• Disability Network
• Women’s Network
• Out Network (LGBT)

They also have a conscience! BlackRock have stopped producing corporate branded merchandise and instead donate to Kiva (a charity providing funding for start-ups in the third world). On top of this, every year each employee is given $25 to donate to a charity of their choice as well as 2 days per year to volunteer. BlackRock matches the amount of any fundraising.

Oh dear, can feel my fickleness kicking in again – I think I want to work here now!! I could see myself as a Ninja!

Think Aladdin sounds cool? What about other financial companies with sophisticated software? Check out: JP Morgan's Athena or Goldman Sachs' Securities Database

 

Employer Monday: Centrica

📥  Employer Visit Report, Networking, Placements

Hey everybody, I’m the Employer Services Manager in the Careers Service. I often visit employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you!
The first visit I’ll tell you about, is my trip to see Centrica (other energy providers are available!)

Getting to Windsor
I recently visited Centrica for their January Reveal Day. Based in Windsor, it wasn’t the easiest rail journey - three trains from Bath! - but when you get to Windsor and Eton station, you’re right next to the castle! Which I thought was pretty cool. Centrica HQ was then a short taxi ride across town.
I wasn’t completely sure what to expect…all I knew about Centrica was that they were ‘British Gas’? It turns out that whilst this wasn’t completely wrong, there is actually a lot more to Centrica than ‘just’ British Gas…

Who are Centrica
Centrica operate on a global scale and are the energy services company behind many big national brands in the UK, Ireland and the USA including Bord Gais Energy, British Gas and Direct Energy.
In 2015 there was a change of CEO and a new strategic direction was introduced. Whilst their focus previously was predominantly on gas, electricity and wind farms, the new CEO considered other fundamental trends with a view to diversifying investments.
Centrica certainly sounds like an exciting place to be. Globally, the crash in oil prices is still having an impact on the market and industry as a whole. Electricity supplies, once provided by large regional power stations, are now supplied locally through wind farms etc. Conversely, gas is now truly global thanks to a network of pipelines.
The energy industry has always been subject to tight political and regulatory guidance but has been under increased scrutiny in recent years in the media. Customers are increasingly savvy too, meaning Centrica have seen an increase in consumer engagement as we, the public, become more interested in where their fuel comes from, its type, the cost, the provider…
On top of everything, Centrica are also at the fore of digital technology advancements and this has created new opportunities for the company to provide products and services ie HIVE, apps, smart technology. They are even developing boilers which are able to anticipate when they are going to malfunction, diagnose the problem and send the information direct to the engineers, before the customer realises there is a problem!
And finally, Centrica are also seeing increased international competition from not only the energy companies but from leading technology firms now going into energy supply.
There is certainly a lot going on for them! But they seem to have a great company ethos and real drive to keep adapting to the demands placed on them.
They certainly seem to be maintaining their ambitions too; they hope to move into markets in South America, Australia and Japan and by scaling up, driving costs down. Nationally renewable energy currently provides 5-10% of all energy – this is predicted to rise to 50% by 2022.

What’s it like to work there?
After all of the corporate stuff, I then spoke to some graduates to find out what it was like. One was in Finance, one from HR and another from Marketing – not quite the scientists or engineers I was imagining! They were all recruited from their summer placement and told me that this is how Centrica recruit all of their graduates (if they can). Most summer placements are based in Windsor and Centrica put them all up in a local university halls. They described the summer placements as being really hands-on and really busy. They were each given live projects, sent on training courses and one grad described the experience as a 10-week, two-way job interview. At the end of the placement they have the opportunity to pitch for a graduate role and convince their line manager and HR that they are the best candidate. They said there was a huge relief (and incentive to work hard!) to return to their final year at university with a graduate job secured.
Graduate retention and progression is very positive at Centrica. Many employees have been at Centrica their entire professional career. There is lots of opportunity to ‘move around’ the organisation (within your stream) to experience different roles and projects.

Centrica’s values
The 2015 strategic review created a ‘Values Team’ at Centrica to create a common set of values for all brands and departments. The company values are:
• Care
• Delivery
• Agility
• Collaboration
• Courage
These are aspirational and supportive, not benchmarks. They aim to create an environment to grow and succeed, where open and honest dialogue is encouraged.

There are a number of support networks at Centrica; LGBT+ called Spectrum, DAWN for employees with a disability, a Women’s Network and a group of YEP (Young Energy Professionals – a national body).

Graduates also plot their own development and career paths. In Finance they can choose between studying for ACA, ACCA, and CIMA and in Marketing they complete 3 8-month placements in different areas of the business (of their choosing) and then decide between an Institute of Marketing or GoogleSquared qualification. All graduates studying towards an external qualification receive 25 days study leave per year on top of their 25 days holiday entitlement.

At the end of the day, I was pretty tired! I contemplated getting a coffee from one of the on-site cafes and even eyed up the comfy looking chairs scattered around one of the open plan spaces!
But I had 3 trains I needed to catch to get back to Bath, so I jumped straight in an Uber!

I definitely learned a lot about who Centrica are and what they do. It challenged my stereotypes and typically (I do this every time I visit an employer - fickle old me!) thought ‘I wonder if they hire old ladies as well as grads….’

Want to find out more about the energy sector? Check out Centrica’s competitors: SSE plc, RWE Generation UK Holdings plc, EDF Energy plc.

Catherine (Employer Services Team)