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Career Advice

Women on the Move: Changing the Conversation

Speakers and panelists offer career advice for women in markets and break through misconceptions.

For some, the trading floor conjures images from pop culture of testosterone-driven gambling and $1 million card games in Liar’s Poker or, more recently, the debauched mayhem depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street.

“Times have changed. Trading desks are not cut-throat places where everybody screams at each other. Women should know I’ve found my colleagues to be the most welcoming, kindhearted people who are always willing to take the time to teach, even when markets are going crazy,” says Kathryn, an analyst in Rates Trading.

Kathryn’s comments were directed at helping forty-two women from across the globe better understand what lies ahead when they join J.P. Morgan this coming summer as interns in Sales and Trading.

To help overcome outdated perceptions, CIB Campus Recruiting partnered with J.P. Morgan’s Women in Markets initiative to host the conference. Women in Markets is part of Women on the Move, a global firm-wide effort that invests in the advancement of women and empowers female employees to build their careers.

Speakers and panelists shared real-life experiences of working in markets over the course of two days. A highlight of the event was an interview with Claudia Jury, global co-head of currencies and emerging markets trading, by her colleague of nearly 20 years Thomas Pluta, global co-head of rates trading.

A Fireside Chat: Career Advice for Women in Markets

Don’t just network, build symmetric and effective relationships.

Thomas Pluta: Our interns will meet a lot of people next summer – what advice do you have for this group on developing relationships rather than just grabbing coffee and moving on to the next one?

Claudia Jury: Be thoughtful about who you decide to engage and go beyond the one-off coffee that may never develop into anything more than just that half hour coffee. Think strategically about building effective relationships where there is symmetry, where you both have something to offer one another. Those will give you visibility and pull you up in your career.

Create a personal brand

Thomas Pluta: I have heard you speak about young professionals developing a personal brand. What is a personal brand and how do you build one?

Claudia Jury: This is where you may want to take a note, because this is one of the most essential things that will transcend your career: brand. Sometimes it gets written off as corporate speak, but it is very important. So what is it? It is what people say when you leave the room. Go through the exercise of writing down exactly who you think you are in other people’s eyes and identify the aspirational brand you want to have.

Ask questions, all of them

Thomas Pluta: Let’s talk about steep learning curves and pressure. What’s your advice on how to navigate the education process on the floor and how do learning curves evolve over a career?

Claudia Jury: Have an open mind, force yourself to ask all questions – even the ones you think are stupid. It’s been nearly five years since I started co-running the currencies and emerging markets business. While I understood the rates market, my field of expertise was in currencies. So I had to ask a lot of questions. This experience taught me that learning curves in careers aren’t always linear. They start out steep, flatten out and can go absolutely vertical like mine did in 2014.

Take personal risks

Thomas Pluta: Could you highlight a tough decision or personal risk that you took early on in your career?

Claudia Jury: In the earliest stage of my career, look, there were barely any women trading. The visualization didn’t exist. So the personal risk I took back then was to engage in a business where there were very few female role models. I had to take a leap of faith that all the men around me would be supportive. Too often I hear if I can’t see it, I can’t visualize it. Nonsense. I would say take leaps of faith, take personal risks and there are going to be a lot of supportive people around you along the way.

Breaking Through Misconceptions

Misconception 1: I need to be a quant genius in order to trade.

“While math is clearly a key part of the job, you don’t have to be the most quantitative person in the world to become a trader. Hard work, energy, and street smarts – this is the combination. While some products are extremely quantitative, others are more qualitative. Even though credit trading is quite mathematical, I am not spending my day immersed in complex calculus,” says Lily, a vice president in ABS Trading.

Misconception 2: If I like to build relationships, I should be in sales.

“There is definitely a misplaced notion about the skills required for a salesperson and a trader. You can be great at building relationships and utilize that on the trading side, and you can be highly analytical and use that on the sales side. I interact with sales regularly and field inquiries from their clients. I am a very social person,” says Abby, an executive director in Rates Trading.

Misconception 3: I have to be decisive if I want to be a trader.

“People tend ask: Are you really decisive since you are a trader? I am not the most decisive person outside of the office. Being decisive in what you do in your job versus knowing what you want for lunch is very different. That’s not the way to measure whether you are being decisive or not,” says Lily, a vice president in ABS Trading.

How do I know which role to choose in Sales & Trading?

Here are the four factors you need to consider when choosing a desk at the end of your internship:

  • Do you want to be in sales or trading?
  • How quantitative do you want the desk to be?
  • Do you want a macro focus with products trading off the news cycle – or a micro focus such as learning the ins and outs of the natural gas market?
  • What kind of pace fits your personality the best? Do you want a fast, flow product or a slower, structured one?

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