Name: Stephen John Ratcliffe
Age: 26 years
Degree and university: University of Edinburgh – Business Studies MA (Hons)
Work title: Graduate Trainee, sales and marketing for Standard Life Investments’ Distribution & Client Services (D&CS).
What do you actually do? I circulate around the D&CS area every six months. Currently I am a Trainee Project Manager, working in the company’s Change Dept. In this role I am working on my own project, which is to analyse a certain area of the business, present the results, investigate and propose solutions, and finally to plan the implementation of the solution. It is an excellent opportunity – I have a lot of responsibility and get to liaise with many areas of the business.
Prior to this role, I have also been a Market Research Analyst and a Business Development Analyst, and I am soon to become a Trainee Product Manager. The aim of the programme is to provide us with a strong all-round knowledge of the D&CS business area, forming solid foundations for us to progress our career at the end of the programme.
Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? The financial sector had not always appealed to me, but saying that, I had no set preferences to any industry. I think it was more the company than the actual industry that made me enter the financial sector. Standard Life Investments is a top investment house with international operations, and it has an excellent reputation and is known to invest considerably in its employees’ development and wellbeing. The graduate programme seemed like a superb opportunity so I applied immediately.
Would you undertake further study to progress your career? Yes. My degree was excellent in opening doors, but unfortunately I believe it only gets you so far these days. I am currently working on a couple of investment qualifications, which will help progress my career in the short-term. In the long-term, I hope to achieve an MBA and perhaps further investment qualifications.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? There are many ups to being part of the graduate programme at Standard Life Investments, but what I like most is that the fact that we are placed into actual roles as opposed to just shadowing fellow colleagues. In every placement, we are expected to add value and take on considerable responsibility. It makes you feel that you are a valued member of the team and are contributing to the success of the company.
The only downside I can think of is that as soon as you settle into your role you are moved onto the next placement. However, when you consider the overall scope and benefits of the graduate programme it is a small price to pay… Moreover, it means that you rarely become uninterested in what you are doing and the days fly by!
What skills do you need to succeed? The ability to listen and learn from those around you is essential. Although everyone is there to help and there is a comprehensive training programme, the motivation to work on your own initiative is also key. Generally, a good down-to-earth, hard working attitude will put you in good stead in whatever placement you are in.
What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector?
Do your research into the industry and company, but most importantly be honest and be yourself in the interview stages.