One of the most important things on the to-do list of a final year student is choosing a suitable graduate job that will lead them to a career path that they always dreamt about. To help you to make the right choices, we are going to write a series of Q&A interviews with successful professionals from different industries. We’ll give you a snapshot into a typical day of their work, what they like and do not like about their jobs and what they studied to get there.
Today we sat down with Peter who is currently the Director of Corporate Agribusiness at the National Australian Bank (NAB). Peter has been very kind to share with us his career advancement journey so that you know what skills and qualifications required for high level executive roles in the Finance industry. Let’s start.
1. What course did you take when you went to university?
Business with a Finance major
2. What was your first job after you graduated from university?
I studied part-time whilst employed – it took me 8 years !!!
Then completed subsequent studies at my employer’s request (International Business and Trade).
3. How did you land your current job?
I first entered the Bank by applying to an advertisement in the paper. Subsequent roles have been as requested by the Bank or through internal applications.
Looking back it was clear the International Business and Trade they encouraged me to do was a contributor to achieving my off-shore roles.
4. Do you have to obtain any additional certificates to be qualified for the current job? If yes, what are the certificates and qualifications that you need to have for this job?
Not particularly. Many of my staff have qualifications in Agriculture, but it is not essential.
Similarly, in my time as a generalist Corporate Banker, post grad studies were well received, (many staff have Graduate Diplomas or MBAs), but it is not at all essential.
5. Can you describe a typical day of yours at work?
I don’t have a typical day, more a typical week. Usually, I will have a range of client meetings each week either in Pitt Street or at the client’s regional location. They will be for specific transactions, or just courtesy calls. Will also include calls to influencers, industry bodies, community events, target clients… Office time is a mix of decision making on client’s needs (credit approvals), managing people (development, sales, performance, issues…), and also typical administrative issues that come with essentially managing your own business and team.
6. What were the biggest challenges that you have encountered since you started your first job after university?
The constant challenge for me is managing upwards. I do not have ambition, but are highly motivated and competitive. I do not undertake any self-promotion, speak honestly and openly which endears me to many, but it has also proven problematic on at least two occasions through my career.
7. In your opinion, what competencies are the most important for a banker?
If a “Banker” whereby they have a mix of client contact, and complex decision making/analytical needs, they need to have a mix of essential skills i.e. communication, negotiation, flexibility/adaptability, and an absolute understanding of financial analysis and risk.
8. What would you like to see in a CV from candidates applying for your bank?
To be honest a mix of the above. They have to show they can communicate well in a range of circumstances (from a Corporate Board Room to a client employee on site), and understand business cash flow and risk (as opposed to accrual accounting).
If they have excellent intellect but cannot communicate they will not be successful (and conversely if they can talk to anyone, anywhere, but have no financial/analytical skills they will also fail). I meet with prospective employees for at least an hour to just talk about them informally, ever before I even make the decision to interview them.
9. Do you believe there are any misconceptions that students might have about the banking industry?
Not really. Banking provides such a range of careers. From traditional Bankers such as myself, to very specific roles such as Accounting/Finance, IT, Markets, Risk.
10. Do you have any advice for students applying for a job in commercial banking?
Talk to as many successful bankers as you can before you join. Find out exactly what it is you enjoy and want to do, then find out what skill set you need to achieve it. You spend a lot of your waking hours at work and it is critical that you enjoy it. Promotion and money will only keep you happy and motivated for a very finite period of time.
If you are looking for some tips to ace psychometric tests for banking and finance graduate positions, check out our comprehensive guide here.