Growing up I had always wanted to be a scientist. However after three years of biochemistry I had come to realise that whilst I still find the subject interesting, a career in research was not for me. Re-evaluating my career options it was clear to me that I could apply to any of the thousands of graduate schemes offered by companies in every conceivable business sector. Homing in on the financial sector as my future career path of choice I realised just how competitive these placements were with as many as 15,000 applicants for as few as 150 places or worse. I would need an edge. It was then that I saw the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme advertised by Careers Network. Looking through the mentors on offer it was Andrew Fisher who stood out to me. I applied and after the interview process, which was great practice for some of my future job applications and assessment centres, I was informed that Andrew would be my mentor.
Just reading about Andrew and his career I felt like I was learning something and I was excited to meet him in person. Andrew started his career with Unilever in the FMCG sector before leaving for Coopers & Lybrand and the financial sector when he realised his future was mapped out for him. He has held a number of top positions in large financial companies before becoming CEO of Towry, the financial advice company. Leading the way in financial advice reform, Andrew has helped Towry grow from £200m to £4.8bn in assets under management in just six years. One of the things that really stuck in my mind was that even someone who has achieved as much as Andrew has had a mentor in his early career.
After a couple of rain checks due to unexpected circumstances and horrendous weather conditions I was finally on my way down to London. I was met with a friendly handshake and amazing view of London on the 17th floor of the Towry offices. We started by introducing ourselves, Andrew describing his career so far and myself talking about what I was doing at university and what I wanted to do in the future. At points throughout the conversation Andrew hit me with some really thought provoking questions, always trying to determine the core motivation behind my aspirations rather than taking them at face value. With a background in biochemistry I was quite different to the mentees Andrew has had in the past though he still offered to help me with my dissertation if I needed it. By our meeting I had already been offered a job on a graduate scheme for next year. Andrew kindly offered to continue our communications as I start the new job, an offer I am sure I will be grateful of as I come across new challenges and experiences.
My meeting with Andrew was really useful in highlighting to me the traits it takes to make it to the top of business. Alongside the obvious ones such as being dedicated, hardworking and motivated were some key points:
· Maintaining a sense of humour
· Asking the opinions of people around you, more senior or more junior than yourself and even those working outside the industry
· The importance of emotional intelligence and understanding the people around you
· Not being impatient
· Building up an extensive network