Rumbi Munyaradzi enjoyed an investment banking career operating across Sub-Saharan Africa, and is well-travelled, believing that a global perspective alongside local innovation can create unique solutions. Her career vision is to help build a brighter and more inclusive future for Africa. Rumbi is currently on sabbatical, during which she has completed a Masters in Digital Transformation and Innovation, and has been writing about her experiences on her personal blog. She’s also passionate about youth mentorship, and has written an e-book for teenage girls. These are her reflections on aspects of the investment banking industry and nature of work she particularly enjoyed, and her tips for success:
“In my 12-year investment banking career, I benefited from a wealth of experiences that have shaped my worldview. For most of that time, I focused on covering Sub-Saharan Africa Debt Capital Markets for J.P. Morgan in Johannesburg, South Africa. My role included originating, executing and conducting liability management on hard currency bonds for sovereigns, corporates and banks across the region. As I was promoted along sequential ranks from Analyst to Executive Director within the same team, there was a lot to learn about the evolution of my role and how to be an effective team player. In sharing my personal journey in the investment banking world, I’ll touch on what I enjoyed and what I learnt about succeeding in this environment. For fellow banking professionals, or others considering this career path, I hope it yields some helpful insights.
What I enjoyed most
Investment banking is a curious combination of complex financial systems, structured processes, microscopic details alongside macroscopic strategising all while using creativity and technology to generate competitive advantages. With so many functions and teams in this type of environment, I chose to work in African Debt Capital Markets to combine my passion for finance with a desire to work on impactful transactions across the continent.
This exposure helped me to identify and flex certain personal strengths that are well-suited to the banking environment. Once I had mastered the technical skills, I shifted focus to gain what I now refer to as power skills rather than soft skills (more on that in this Forbes article). This was the hardest part for me, but also the most rewarding. Four main areas stood out for me:
Nikki Hill is an executive coach passionate about helping professionals find their voice and stride as they step up in their careers. She’s worked in organisational behaviour roles across luxury fashion, telecommunications, food retail and financial services. In her personal career journey, she describes her multi-interest studies in Edinburgh, Cambridge and London, her experiences in the Far East and Europe, and her ongoing self-development. This is Nikki’s story:
“I remember the moment a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew what I wanted to do in my career. I was in a lecture theatre in London, learning about the GLOBE study of leadership, and all of a sudden my interests in culture, psychology, business and careers collided. It was Week 2 in a Foundations of Management course at the London School of Economics (LSE) I’d signed up for after graduating from university and I was hoping it would help give me a sense of direction about what to do next.
Up until then I’d had a whole range of wildly different career ambitions. I’d started university at 18 studying Law at Edinburgh University, with grand aspirations to be an international human rights lawyer. By the end of the first year I never wanted to read another statute again and my two sets of work experience - shadowing a barrister in Brisbane, Australia, and a family solicitor in Oxford, United Kingdom - had only cemented the fact that I loved the idea more than the reality of practicing law.
Take two involved studying English, Drama and Education at Homerton College, Cambridge, and conjured up visions of working as an editor or starting my own theatre company, before shifting to teaching after ten years or so ‘in industry’. Towards the end of my final year I’d been introduced to the idea of management accounting which I thought sounded rather appealing. It seemed to be about understanding the story behind numbers and being able to influence decisions based on insight derived from how a company was performing in different areas. I reasoned I could do that for a theatre and still be connected in that way. And, that was why I signed up for the Foundations of Management course that led to my epiphany - I went in wanting to learn more about accounting, and discovered a love for something completely different!
Suffice it to say I’ve had varied interests along the way, and my falling for Organisational Behaviour (business psychology) as a passion felt notably different... The jobs that seemed most connected to Organisational Behaviour were in Human Resources (HR) and I secured a three month graduate internship at the CIPD - the United Kingdom’s professional institute for HR.
For the first time, the idea of what I thought I wanted to do matched up with the reality of the role. The more I learned, the more I was interested. I definitely struck it lucky being asked by the CIPD to support a research project on ‘How to Attract Top Graduates into the HR Profession’ and I had great freedom in designing and running the study, interpreting the results and making recommendations. I learned how important it is to stay curious and open minded when looking for the right fit for your career. We spend far too much of our lives at work to not care about what we do or settle on a path too early based on what seems to be a good idea, even when experience tells us otherwise.
Prakash Chandramohan is an experienced executive who has implemented several transitions in his career, across industries and countries. An authentic leader, he’s also recognised for his strong sense of purpose and principles while working in the corporate world. As a Protagion mentor, he guides individuals on how to manage their own transitions successfully. And, he’s implementing another transition himself at the moment too! This is his personal journey:
“Early in my career I had a mentor who gave me advice on how to go about building my career. His advice was to look for “wide-open spaces” to carve out a niche, where there was the complete absence of competition. This is harder said than done of course. It involves a lot of exploration along with a fair degree of risk and uncertainty. But the prize at the end is becoming one of a few with the ideas, skills & experience for solving a certain type of problem.
I’m now two decades into my career, and the advice still resonates with me. Having most recently spent eight years at a UK wealth management firm, I left my executive role at the beginning of 2020 because I wanted to get more closely involved in how to empower people to understand their financial world better. I was struck by how much value there is in financial advice yet how few people seek it or even consider it. I had several hunches as to how this problem could be solved but there was no way to investigate them properly without leaving my full-time job. This “middle Britain” challenge has become my passion.
The bigger and bolder you are in the transitions you seek, the greater the surprises will be for you and the more unique you will become.”
What I have found, by making transitions in my career, is that opportunities have been given to me that weren’t afforded to others and I’ve been able to crack a number of problems along the way, as a result of knowledge & skills I acquired in a completely different field. This has really kept me going and given me the confidence to stay nimble in my career...