Degree: Economics and Finance (BSc), First, University of York; MSc in Real Estate Economics and Finance, Merit, London School of Economics
Years of graduation: 2002 and 2003
Occupation: Associate director at Jones Lang LaSalle corporate finance
What do you do in your job?
My job has two main functions. As a mentor, I train analysts within the group and make sure they are fully resourced. I also work on transactions, a role in which I straddle two teams: mergers and acquisitions and the indirect property investment team. I could be involved in three or four transactions at once. Usually on a transaction there will be a couple of analysts and one senior director. My job is to project manage, deal with clients, and execute the deal. Every day is different.
What was your motivation in applying?
Jones Lang LaSalle came to see us at university – the head of research was a visiting lecturer – and that stimulated my interest. Once I learnt more, I found there was a good bridge between property and finance. I didn’t want to go directly into investment banking, and JLL offered an alternative career path in a different arena. In addition, my undergraduate and postgraduate skills of fundamental real estate coupled with finance matched the job specification pretty well.
What did the application process involve?
First, there was an online application form. Once that was submitted I was invited for a first-round interview with a director or senior surveyor. I also took tests – numerical and some verbal reasoning. Then when I was successful I was invited back for a second round, which included a more detailed interview with two national directors. Candidates were also split into teams and did a team exercise. In addition, we had to give a 10-minute presentation on any topic that we had prepared in advance.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I like the fact that there’s no such thing as a typical day. The good thing about a big company such as JLL is working with high-profile clients and projects such as the 2012 Olympics. You get an opportunity to carry out a specific role, – not just "grunt" work. Another positive is the client contact and interaction with colleagues. The people who work here are really diverse and interesting; there are eight different nationalities just in our team. We are also quite a young team.
Most challenging part of your job?
Trying to adapt to different situations and to suddenly become a specialist in certain fields.
I have passed the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) – the route you can take to become a chartered surveyor. A structured course at JLL allowed me to complete this training. I have also completed FSA (Financial Services Authority) exams, and the company has offered me the opportunity to do further professional qualifications.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Don’t go down a stereotypical route – keep your options open. Most people on my course went into investment banking or accounting. Many of them are now in investment banking and do the same work every day – a way of life that seems tedious to me. I took a slightly less conventional route, and it has led to a whole array of interesting opportunities. Make sure you cover all the options.