Better late than never, let's write about the ibanking workshop Lehman Brothers held in the Canary Wharf offices on Wednesday. Thanks, Women in Business Club for setting this up! The way to Canary Wharf was one of the most exciting parts actually. Some idiot must have left his bag on the train, and while we first waited in Canada Water to have the bag evacuated, they suddenly decided to evacuate all of us rather than the bag and we had to leave the train and the station immediately. Then we were wandering around Canada Water for half an hour trying to find a cab or a bus, but it was to no avail. In the end we went back to the station and at some point they opened it up again and we could finally reach Canary Wharf. You almost walk into Lehman Brothers offices as soon as you leave the station, which is very convenient.
They brought us up to the top floor (31st) which had an impressive and beautiful view over the night lights of London. 10 of us were half an hour late and the panel was ongoing. There were Managing Directors from each division - Investment Banking, Investment Management, Fixed Income, and Equities. After the panel, we moved on to a drinks reception, and many more Lehman employees joined. There were analysts, associates, several women from the recruiting team and more senior bankers, so it was very easy to talk. I especially enjoyed talking to an equities trader who is trying to get more women interested in trading. He was telling me that every woman who walks through the doors of Lehman comes with the wish of doing sales, no matter what their personalities are. He urged us to open our minds and examine our strengths, and he said it is more than okay not to decide upon the role we think fits us best. You have to know what the roles are and what your strengths are, but according to him you have to keep an open mind about where you would fit. I like this approach, because it can be hard to make such a decision from the outside, it is much easier from the inside.
Overall, the evening was very informative and friendly, and many of us on the way back were impressed by the effort they had put in providing us with honest information and informal contact (as well as delicious drinks and canapés!).
Why has my memory blurred a bit by now? Because, on Friday I had the luck to be shown the Deutsche Bank trading floors in the City! I loved it! To be honest, I would have loved to stay right there and go to work :-)). What did I love about it? Well, I had some preconceptions about trading floors, or let's say I had seen another trading floor once many years ago where I didn't feel comfortable, but this one is NICE!
First of all, hardly anyone was wearing a suit, most were smart casual. Then, there were lots of women, I'd say 30-40%. People were young and seemed very cheerful. Another stereotype is that people eat greasy fast food in front of their screens, but actually they have a pretty stylish café in the middle of the trading floor selling smoothies, juices and salads, nice! Then all the country teams had their flags either on the monitors or on the walls next to them, it revived my memories of the world cup in Germany :-). Also, instead of ten screens and twenty telephones the traders all just had two large and very new plasma screens and one phone (plus mobile I guess), so it all seemed quite relaxed and healthy. Add to that the fact that they had beautiful exhibits of modern art on the ground floor and I must say I was very impressed. I hope to go back soon.
The coming week there are luckily fewer events, one big one is the stock pitch of the Investment Management Club on Wednesday, but sadly I'll miss it because I have to recruit some undergrads for my company in the evening. It is funny switching back and forth between the roles of recruiter and candidate :-). On Thursday we have our Microeconomics midterm exam and then Sundowners, the timing of the exam is great, right before our happy hour in the MBar, so you can walk straight from the exam into the bar and celebrate, well done!