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Interviewing at a private equity house

27 Feb

Yeah, I know I don’t want to do finance. But after interviewing last week for what I thought was going to be what I wanted to do–corporate development for a media company, and being told that the hours would be similar to those in investment banking for just (a laughable) £50k + 30% performance bonus a year in a manager role, well…I started to rethink my options. Entrepreneurship is still my preferred route, and still working in that though. However, when you have student debt, you really need to be more pragmatic.

So today I went for a (informal) interview with a PE firm. I didn’t know it was going to be informal so I had prepared a bit. I arrived to reception and was directed to a meeting room. I was alone there for a couple of minutes. The door opened, and I think I fell in love. This gorgeous, sexy guy came in–he was my interviewer.

We had an easy conversation but somehow it felt more like a date than an interview. I just hope I didn’t flirt too obviously. I was making my best not to drool. And then he started touching his lips gently, and I was like…oh my gosh! Honestly, if this would have been a date, it’d have gone great. But as an interview, well, who knows! It was all about getting to know me and my motivations. Zero behavioural or technical questions. Now, if I make it through then things would be intense. If I don’t, well, I don’t think I’d have been able to concentrate at work with him around.

Talking about dates, I had one last Saturday. Pretty chilled–a couple of hours chatting over coffee and cake in Borough Market. He was Dutch, and quite cute. Not sure if there was chemistry though but friendship seems possible.

Interviewing at the bank everyone wants to work for

20 Feb

So I just had my interview, and…I bombed it beautifully–which I’m not concerned about.

Honestly I did not prepare at all, so it doesn’t come to surprise that I wasn’t able to answer some technical questions–because I already have forgot about the treatment of minority interests. It’s strange, cause I used to be very sound in technical knowledge. And today I even struggled explaining when to use P/E and when to use EV/EBITDA. Basic, I know!

Fit questions were fine as usual. When you have already worked there, you really have an easier time explaining why you want to go back. It’s just “tell me about yourself”, and “why do you want to come back”.

I’m sure my feedback will be something like they like me but my technical knowledge wasn’t up to par.

Really not bothered cause it only keeps confirming to me that I’m done with investment banking. However, it also confirms to me that the people at the investment bank everyone wants to work for are really nicer than others–or maybe I’m just biased.

Bankers–what [my friend, my family, etc] think I do

20 Feb

Okay, because I know you’re coming here for this, I’m going to put it on top of the page.

Slowly

19 Feb

Getting un-depressed is a slow process. Imagine like your world is in black and white, and sometimes you can see the colours coming–like a rainbow, the colours fade away.

I have dragged myself out the last days. It has taken me lots of effort because I still feel like I can’t be bothered with anything, but my outings have made me feel better somehow. It’s always nice to be with friends.

On Friday I went for lunch with one of my dear friends–the investment banker girl getting married in the summer. Lovely time discussing weddings and startups at Konditor & Cook. By the way, their chocolate cake is super delicious. Then in the evening I joined the hipsters advertising crowd for one event of the Social Media Week. I reconnected with an old flame–really don’t think flame is the word cause I really didn’t like him that much. I reconnected with a guy I used to date (in 2010, I think). We are both into startups these days, and he was at the Social Media Week too. It’s always nice to catch up–or networking.

Yesterday I had dinner at Quaglinos with the lovely Stuart and my fabulous New York flatmate. Those Evening Standard’s menu deals are amazing when you’re a student.

“How’s the interviewing at [bank everyone wants to work for] going, Stuart?” I asked remembering that the last time I saw him (erm, Halloween), he was about to go to his first interview with this bank.

“It’s still going. I’ve met 14 people so far,” he replied. “They’ve told me I’m their preferred candidate.”

“I’m interviewing with them next week,” I said.

“Okay, why? Why are you doing that? You know how what will happen. You know you don’t want to keep doing investment banking. Remember what happened the last time. You were absolutely miserable. Why?”

“I don’t know. A moment of boredom, I guess. Probably I’ll screw up the interview cause I really can’t be bothered to prepare, so that would be it.”

“You know, it would not be it. You interview well, and because you worked there, they’d probably like you. And then you’d have more interviews and get sucked into that because you’d feel good that they want to keep interviewing you–”

“Is that what is happening to you?”

He nodded. Yeah, it’s true…that’s how you get sucked into banking for starter–you believe you are like the last coca-cola in the desert just because they like you. It’s like a massage to your ego.

Conversation flowed. I love to be with my friends, they are truly the best people ever.

“So how was your Valentine’s day?” New York flatmate asked. “Any news from [insert name of elusive guy here]?”

“I got two guys wishing me Happy Valentine’s day. None of them was him. One was the doctor turned law student, and the other was certain New Yorker. Yours?”

“I had a date with my Global Economy lecture. Hey! That doctor guy sounds really nice.”

“I know…I think I’m becoming very fond of him. Shame that he doesn’t live in London now.”

Yes, a fondness is developing there. He’s super nice and caring, and I like that. It’s the warmness. He is one week younger than me but that’s okay. By the way, I’m not a big fan of astrology, but I do believe Scorpio-Scorpio works really well–the Scorpios I know are all fabulous, and we just get along. Also, I tend to get along better with Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Virgo (karma), Capricorn and Pisces. Libras are okay sometimes because they are naturally personable. The rest of the signs, don’t get along so much really.

Example, let’s have Mr. Toyboy because of something that just happened when I was writing this post. I had a very bizarre dream last night. There were ghosts and a killer. More like a nightmare, I guess. Well, in my dream, Mr. Toyboy was the killer, which I found amusing. So you know, in a casual way I told him about my dream on a Facebook message, just because it was something really unusual. And what happened?

“Deleted and blocked. Bye,” was his reply.

Really? How old are you again? I thought that was something that only teenager girls do.

So he de-friended me–kind of a first for me. Oh yeah, big deal, right? I’m still laughing about it. Maybe when he finally grows up (mentally) and develops his tact, we could try to be friends. But that’s pretty unlikely to happen. Such is life! Good luck to him.

Recovery

15 Feb

I’m feeling so much better. During the last days I have been taking walks in the park and feeding the birds…I know, I sound totally like a senior citizen. But hey, whatever rocks each person’s boat, right? Anyways, the fresh air and the timid sunshine do help me. Oh, and exercise as in going to the gym really helps as well. And now I’m getting a phone call from my mother everyday too.

And then came an email to my inbox–an invitation to interview with the investment bank everyone wants to work for–and for who I’ve already worked for (amongst others). I accepted cause I have nothing better to do these days. Actually, I do. I’ve kept working on my pre-startup. The other day I attended an event and met several entrepreneurs. It’s always inspiring to hear from people who have gone through these kind of experiences, and to think about how to use the lessons they’ve learnt on your own venture. By the way, I heard that apparently Google don’t like to hire ex-bankers because they believe we are too…mmm…narrow minded. So I was suggested to diversify my team and include techies and others, as my current team is made of finance people. Maybe I should teach myself how to make websites and apps, but the truth is that I’m kind of useless with technology.

One thing I have noted is that everyday you can see a new competitor popping out. Mashable, TechCrunch and even The Economist refer to new startups everyday–and it seems that a lot of them are in the area I’m thinking of going to. That’s bad and good news at the same time. Bad because, of course, there’s more competition and you won’t be as unique as you thought you’d be. Good because it shows that there’s potential in that area. Moreover, entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily about creating the wheel; it’s about making the wheel easier to use or more enjoyable to roll. We all know that Facebook was built on MySpace, right?

Screenwriting

8 Feb

I did it! I managed to write a movie. And I’m working on my second script.

The conundrum that I have now is whether to make my movie a rom-com or a rom-drama. According to the feedback I have got, I’m quite in between and need to go for one or the other. I’m more inclined towards rom-com, as my script is refreshing for this genre–how many romcoms have you seen featuring investment bankers? Eh? All movies with bankers are on the drama side, and I want it fun…and romantic.

My tag line is…”like the Devil wears Prada minus the clothes.” So right now for the next draft, I will need to try to make it funnier and lose the jargon–yeah, I throw EBITDA in my dialogue at some point. Need to make it easy to understand for a non-banking audience. LBOs, covenants, stress tests…

Anything funny you have seen in your office, and that think will make a funny moment in a movie, well…let me know.

 

The hurry sickness

1 Feb

I had a bad day. Yes, it happens…even when you’re not working and that.

I had an interview at an advertising agency in Canary Wharf. Yes, you read correctly. Advertising agency! It was for a project, and I thought I could do by learning (on the job) about (digital) marketing and advertising–everything for a reason, of course. [Mental note: oh, my Machiavellian nature…]

Well, so these people at this very well-known advertising agency invited me for an interview–obviously after I had sent my CV. So with my CV in front of them, they questioned me about my lack of marketing experience. Erm, hello? Dude, you knew that I don’t have marketing experience…you read my CV, didn’t you? Then I got asked if I have ever done any strategic innovation while analysing data. Are you kidding me? First of all, what the hell is a strategic innovation? And with data? In how many ways can you analyse a financial model? Innovation in investment banking? The thought of it makes me burst into laugher. Have you ever tried to even change the order of the slides of a presentation, or even used a different colour that isn’t in the colour palette used by your bank? You know what happens, right? You can’t deviate from the standards–unless you want someone screaming at you.

Interview was a fail. Shame, I really think I gave them some cool ideas and would have enjoyed working in a ‘creative’ environment where jeans are the norm.

Then came the date. Actually, there was no date…just a no show. Whatever. Not really that bothered about it, and maybe better that way as I’m not good company at this moment.

So I came home and read an article called The Paradox of Indispensability. They talk about the ‘hurry sickness’, and then it was clear to me that this is a sickness suffered by investment bankers.

“Typical symptoms of this disease include:

  • If you are microwaving something for 30 seconds, you have to do something else while waiting for the microwave to go ‘ping’
  • You eat at your desk while also checking your emails, often on the phone at the same time
  • You get a buzz from just catching a plane or a train
  • You do something else while you drive (on the phone, listening to the radio, eating your breakfast)
  • You hate the time it takes to boot up your computer so much that you never turn it off
  • You do something else while brushing your teeth
  • You turn your smartphone on as soon as the plane lands, before you are meant to, and get frustrated by how long it takes to get a signal
  • You find yourself consistently getting frustrated while waiting in line or in traffic
  • You regularly interrupt the person with whom you are talking
  • You do something else on telephone conferences
  • You press the ‘door close’ button in elevators repeatedly

If you look at this list and see some familiar friends, you are probably sick.”

So…how many of you are sick?

Mentor – Mentee

26 Jan

I met my mentee today. Yes, I’m a mentor–more like a dementor to be honest.

I like to give advice…only if people ask me. I’m not going through life telling people what to do–that can get very annoying. But if someone feels like they could do with a bit of my “wisdom”, I’m always more than happy to make time to share it [mental note: my time is in abundance these days.]

So who’s my mentee? A very young guy from a country in Eastern Europe who really wants to be an investment banker. He was facing a tough decision: go for an internship at a Japanese bank (he told me he rejected one at an American investment bank in Canary Wharf), or finish his graduate degree. I thought it was a no brainer, but he seemed to be struggling.

I first tried to make him think hard why he wanted to do investment banker. He seemed very determined, and I was just thinking ‘why, oh why…maybe he’s just young…ignorance is a bliss’. I was never  into banking as much as my mentee is, not even at the beginning. Well, I guess that can make a difference.

I asked him what were his mid and long-term career ambitions. He was thinking going from leveraged finance into equity research and then joining a hedge fund. Mmm… yeah, it didn’t make much sense to me either.

After giving him a piece of my mind, he left perhaps as confused as before. But I’d like to think I made a difference in a young life.

Oh, the weight loss is progressing nicely–2 kgs down, 18 kgs to go. The dating…I’ve abandoned it from now. Even though the last hedgie I dated is still keen–even after I freaked out and everything. Shame I don’t really fancy him.

And the startup…well, some progress on that side too. I’m having so much fun.

Moving on

6 Oct

I’m supposed to be at school right now listening to the dude who created Gossip Girl. But I’m not. I’m at home, sitting on my sofa with Sex and the city on. Carrie doesn’t want to marry Aidan. I don’t know what’s Gossip Girl about anyways–I know I have friends in London who would have loved to meet that creator dude.

You know, I really wasn’t thinking about skipping class this morning when I left home. After the news [mental note: are they really news when it’s just a confirmation of what you already knew?], I went to my screenwriting course. I have to say, I LOVE this course. Absolutely love. It’s true: when you find what you feel passionate about, you just want to do that all the time. And you just know it; you feel it. I think Steve Jobs (sad, R.I.P.) talked about it during a speech at Stanford.

I talked about one of the ideas I have for a movie, which will be my project for this class. Everybody loved it, even the professor. I felt wowed! Apparently I even managed to incorporate something in the story that would attract actors to play it–it’s the kind of role they love. Well, awesome then. This went much better than that interview I had yesterday at a film producing company. Nah, wasn’t for doing anything sexy; just the models for financing movies. Kinda more exciting of the models for financing truck companies and that anyways. Well, seems that the investment banking past isn’t easy to get rid of, so let’s work it to my advantage, right?

During the class I got an email from the elusive guy after I told him about the guy who called me unstable.

“Are you ok? Oh well, maybe have a cocktail this evening to get over it? It is Thursday after all! x”

“Hell yeah! I’m going to a party tonight,” I replied.

The party has some theme going on, so it should be fun. And…would the elusive guy ever tell he’s engaged? I keep throwing him indirects but nothing [mental note: just remembered it’s his birthday this weekend.]

Screenwriting over, I started walking to the station.

“I loved your story,” one of the ladies in my class said. She’s one of the actresses, and looks amazing.

I think I have a new friend now. She’s is over 40, even a grandmother, and looks younger than me. Dammit! She told me she was in telenovelas and that, and then I googled her and geez… like she’s a total celebrity in Mexico.

I was running late to school, and feeling super inspired to work on my script. So that’s when I’m home but before I needed a fix–quick writing in the blog is doing that for me.

When you find something that you love, you develop pure addiction.

Now… let’s mend the ego and get out tonight.

 

The dinner

24 Sep

I waited for Sebastian patiently at the lobby of the New York Palace hotel. People from everywhere in the world were hanging at the lobby. Literally. UN delegations were staying there, and I had to go through airport like security to get inside under the very annoying rain.

A medium built man, on the short side but undeniable good looking stood in front of me.

“Hello Sebastian,” I said, standing up immediately of my chair. He was as tall as my shoulder.

“You look great!” [mental note: yes, I did look amazing.]

“Thank you! You look good too. The shaven head suits you.”

Er, when you’re half bald, the shaven head is definitely a better look. He was looking younger even though his birthday was last week.

Over dinner at that sushi place he likes, we started catching up with our lives. I ordered a Peach Fuzz; he had green tea. The investment banker and the student.

“Are you happy?” I asked. This is like the million dollar question, right?

“It’s been a tough year but things are now stabilising at work. As I told you, I was seeing this girl… But not anymore.”

Who asked you about your love life? Aha! I knew it! I knew you got tired of her and wanted me back. Guess what? Fuck off!

“Are you seeing someone?” he asked.

“Not at all. Well, there’s this ex emailing me every day but he doesn’t know that I know he’s engaged. And there’s this other guy who went weird since we have been in the same city. I want a husband; I think it’s about time…the older, the more difficult.”

“C’mon! You’re still very young.”

We looked at each other directly in the eyes. He was the one breaking eye contact first.

“I miss you,” he said looking back into my eyes.

I remained silent. [Mental note: Let’s just hear what he’s going to say to ‘win me’.]

“No one compares to you…physically,” he told [mental note: you just had to ruin it Sebastian.] “I still remember that time at The Landmark hotel in Marylebone…”

“A year ago? Wow! You have a damn good memory,” I said.

“That was the last time we were properly together.” He blushed. “It’s like you put a curse on me. I can’t feel the way you made me feel with anyone else, physically.” [Mental note: keep digging yourself in a hole, don’t you?]

“You’re not the first one telling me that recently.” [mental note: are my exes like conspiring? The elusive guy came earlier with a similar ‘sweet talk’ or ‘ear warmer’]

We finished dinner. I got a doggy bag; he got the bill.

We held hands and kissed sweetly.

“Do you want to come to my room? It’s on floor 38 and has an amazing view,” he said.

“I think that’s not a good idea,” I replied. “Look, I know where you’re coming from. And I can’t do it. You’re my boyfriend or you are not, but you can’t be in the middle.”

“Let’s be realistic. You’re here and I’m in London.”

“Well, it’s not like it worked out when we were in the same city. Sebastian, it is not me, it is YOU! Maybe we should be just friends.”

“You’re right.” He reminded me like a dog with its tail between its legs. “Still we could have fun tonight.” Cheeky.

“Geez! You just don’t get it, right? We aren’t having sex tonight. I could do cuddles though. You’re quite good at that.”

“No,” he said. “I don’t do cuddles with my friends, and that’s what you want us to be, friends, and I want more than that. You’d get annoyed cause I’d try to touch you. Then I’d get annoyed cause you wouldn’t let me. I don’t need a teaser.”

“Well, it’s like if we have sex and then you’re gone, and I’m left with this huge psychological damage. I don’t think I can cope. My heart will be broken into tiny pieces,” I said.

“Stop being sarcastic. How do you think I would be able to cope if I have you nearby and can’t do anything to you? You know, I can also get emotional.” We laughed.

Silence. We looked at each other. “And that’s why we don’t work out,” I joked. He smiled. “I think I’d better go.”

And like that, I got on the first cab that passed Madison Ave with 51st street. Alone.

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