Graduating into an unstable job market – Exclusive interview with Thierry Cambray
I never thought that I would be graduating at home along with my Mum and Dad. I never thought that my celebrations would consist of a family meal with polite conversation and a glass of wine. Nor did I ever think that I would be entering the job market during such a hard, uncertain time period as a global pandemic.
However, I have recently been in contact with Thierry Cambray, a Warwick alumni who graduated in 2007, right before the financial crash. Thierry had a few tips to share with the newly graduated cohort of 2020, which personally, reassured me a lot.
Please introduce yourself (Name, course, and when you graduated from Warwick)
Thierry Cambray, Msc Finance, 2007.
How did you balance your work/life balance during your final year? What were the biggest challenges you faced?
The workload required to achieve above average marks was considerable. This was the principal challenge. I think that so long as I understood the tuition offered on campus, I could pass most exams. It became much harder however when it came to write the end of year dissertation. The amount of research and statistical work was high. In general, I tried to exercise and socialise every week so [as] to keep sane and have a routine that did not involve studying.
What were you feeling at the time of entering the job marketing, considering the socio-political situations with the financial crash?
I remember feeling very nervous about the events that started unfolding barely weeks after handing out my dissertation in September. There already were jitters in the job market and much stricter interview processes. I was very fortunate to have secured a position at ICAP in January of 2008 just before the global financial crash. I remember feeling nervous about my new job, reading every news article that may give away clues as to where a round of redundancies would take place. It was a time of acute uncertainty for our cohort. I hung onto job security a lot more than if [I had] started a few years prior. I worked even harder to keep my place. Such was the fear of being out of a front office market job and joining the thousands of young jobless candidates with more work experience than I had.
How did you prepare for the adversities?
I networked within my firm a lot to find mentors to help me navigate the crisis. I attended a lot of City talks to stay knowledgeable and in touch with the rest of the industry. I made myself more visible within the firm as well. Finally, I tried not to spend any money unnecessarily in case my situation came to change adversely.
Do you feel that you were prepared for these adversities?
Not at all but I learnt to adapt quickly. Also I was able to share my experiences with my classmates who lived through the same.
In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
I would have sought career help from experienced colleagues a lot sooner. Crises have the habit of coming back in a cyclical fashion. It is likely that your older colleagues would have experienced comparable times.
What did you wish you knew when you were in our situation (as graduates-to-be!)?
I wish I knew that being academically strong is not enough. Having a sociable character and being a political animal ensures one’s survival within good and difficult times.
Tell us where you are now in your career, and the journey you took to be where you are today.
I am celebrating this week 12 years of working at ICAP, now part of the TP ICAP group. I am an Interest Rate Options Broker. I arrange derivative deals between banks trading products denominated in Euro, GBP and CHF.[However], my journey is atypical since I initially graduated with a masters in Civil Engineering, worked as an engineer for 3 years then decided I wanted to work in the Markets. The MSc Finance made it possible; I had the maths skills but I needed the in-depth financial knowledge. What I learnt on the course propelled me into a career that I love and to this day [and] I still use a lot of what I have learnt in my fixed income module.
What would be your advice?
My advice would be to learn a skill, become great at it, add lots of social skills and strong work ethics. Finally, do not neglect foreign languages, they are worth a lot in this job market.
On reflection, perhaps graduating during this time isn’t entirely negative. Around me are the support of my parents, my friends, my peers. During the pandemic, companies have had to adapt to the changing world, and there are more and more free online workshops to help recent graduates gain experience. It is a time of growth, of moving onto the next stage in our lives, of flying the Warwick nest. But change and uncertainty aren’t always bad. Sometimes, it can be just another opportunity to learn.