"I was naive. I had no idea I was about to lose my banking job"
When Andrew Osayemi got his first job in banking after graduating in economics from the UK's University of Warwick, he was pretty excited."I came from quite humble beginnings and within 18 months I'd bought a flat," says Osayemi, who worked for RBS as an FX Forward trader during the financial crisis. "I loved working as a trader, particularly at RBS in New York, where during the 2007- 2009 financial crisis there was a battle to keep the bank solvent almost every day, and it felt like we were trading by the seat of our pants."
But when RBS failed in the wake of the crisis and was taken over by the British government, Osayemi suddenly lost his job five years into his trading career. "I had no idea that it was coming," he says. "That was pretty naive of me."
Osayemi had moved to the US with RBS, which once had a huge trading floor in Stamford, Connecticut. But with no local support structure and a girlfriend in London who is now his wife, he felt displaced and asked to return home. The bank obliged, only to fire him a few months later. "I got pulled into a room on the 7th floor and was told I had 15 minutes to say goodbye. It was a sharp, dramatic, exit," he recalls.
It was also a rude awakening for a first generation banker who'd believed all the bank's talk about caring for employees."The main lesson I learned from that was to always be on your toes despite what you are told by your manager ," says Osayemi. "Banks all have good intentions but they also face economic realities. At the end of the day, it's a financial decision, and graduates seem more aware of the ups and downs now."
Osayemi's next (possible) mistake was not trying to get back into the market as quickly as possible. As a 27-year-old trader with five years' experience, he says he was told he had a year to get back in again. He decided to spend six months exploring something else instead. After setting up a TV production company and co-producing a sitcom, he decided he didn't want to go back into trading anyway. "I just fell in love with doing something different," he says.
After stints as a graduate recruiter for Morgan Stanley and Citi, Osayemi is now working for trading simulation firm AmplifyME. He's also written a book on how to change careers without the expense of paying for a Masters or an MBA. Instead, he says you can move into a new industry with judicious networking and by starting at a small firm that's willing to give you a chance. If you're switching careers, don't bother with endless job applications: "Your current CV won't fit. You need someone to vouch for you and to give you a referral," Osayemi cautions.
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