How did you secure an internship at Numis?
It was around the time that Numis had just started its graduate programme and those successful candidates had started in corporate finance. Soon after, they were sent off on their rotation around the firm and it meant that the corporate finance team were short three people, so they needed support and an intern was the perfect solution. At the time, I was doing an unpaid internship on the buy side, but I was presented with the opportunity to join Numis and went for it. It was an interesting role and also, importantly, it was paid! Something that my other internships hadn’t been!
What did you study at university?
I studied French and Spanish. To be honest, I always knew that I had an interest in the City and business, and that it was where I wanted to start my career. But at the same time, I didn’t want to choose a degree like economics based purely on that fact when I had a genuine interest in languages, which also gave me the opportunity to spend a year living and working abroad. And in many ways, I think studying and speaking different languages has been a great foundation for a career in banking.
Can you explain why?
The main reason is probably confidence building. Having to stand up and speak in front of individuals and groups of people in a foreign language can be quite intimidating, and getting over that successfully does a lot for your confidence. And having that experience in my back pocket was very helpful, and continues to be so, when you’re in pitches or client meetings today. I also think the cultural immersion that comes from language-learning is a real privilege and allows you a deeper understanding of worlds other than that from which you came from, and that can also help prepare you for building relationships in business. I’m a big advocate of learning languages! Finally, I’m excited that, as we start to build our presence in Europe, I may even be able to put my languages to use at Numis. To date, the only time I have ever done so is acting as translator for a colleague when he was meeting with a Peruvian mining company, and my Spanish mining vocabulary definitely wasn’t up to the task!
Are you an advocate of internships?
Absolutely. I was very lucky to get mine and I think anyone else who manages to secure one should feel very lucky too. I started on a three-month contract, which got extended to six and then at the end I got offered a full-time job. The benefits of internships are also a two-way-street – they are great for the individual and also the business too. For the individual, particularly graduates, it is almost impossible to know what a job entails from external due diligence. So an internship allows you to ‘try before you buy’, so-to-speak. If you find out it’s not the job for you, no worries, and if it is – great! And the same applies to the business hiring too. Interviews and paper CVs can be misleading, particularly when references are almost impossible and as a graduate you have no ‘track-record’, so-to-speak, so being able to judge someone by what they can actually offer in the role day-to-day is the best way of assessing whether they will be a good hire for the firm. Internships make a lot of sense.
Are you involved in today’s internship programme at Numis?
Not so much in a formal capacity, but in essence everyone is involved in it, and that’s why I think it’s so good. Each year I give the interns a what I like to call a bit of a Numis history lesson - helping them understand how Numis has got to the place it is today, why I believe we have been so successful and where the business is going and the opportunities that lie ahead. And I think, given I started as an intern here, my perspective can be quite helpful on that front.
What has changed at the business since you joined?
A lot actually. We’ve evolved from being seen as a City stockbroker to a much more rounded investment bank, and the quality of our client base and the work we do has moved on significantly in the time that I’ve been here. The diversification of our strategy, from the development of our M&A, growth capital solutions and debt advisory franchises, to the move into new geographies, has meant that we are better placed than ever to offer more holistic advice to both private and public companies.
How important have other Numis employees been to your journey here?
Invaluable. You read a lot about ‘role models’ in business and they are definitely important. I’m lucky in that I don’t necessarily have just one, but rather have had the benefit of learning from a huge number of people at Numis. This is helped by the fact that many people who join Numis tend to stay here for a long time. For example, when I joined, I sat next to Andrew Holloway, who has gone on to become our CFO, and for many years I sat next to Alex Ham, who is now our co-CEO, and a number of the people I worked most closely with when I joined have gone on to become senior managing directors in the firm. If I had to highlight one person, though, it would have to be Heraclis Economides, who has been a real mentor to me, both professionally and personally. Numis is a great place to work as a junior employee, in my opinion, as you can, if you put yourself out there, find yourself working closely with very senior experienced people from an early age - there is very little hierarchy in the office and everyone has always been incredibly approachable and keen to help me develop. Taking advantage of that is something I always recommend very highly to younger members of the firm.
What do you enjoy most about investment banking within Numis?
It’s probably the exposure you are able to get here to some of the leading figures in business across a wide array of industries. Numis is excellent in that you are taken to meetings from a very early stage and don’t have to spend five years sitting in front of a computer screen. You can learn so much by being in the same room as impressive founders, investors or private equity executives, and then getting to the stage where you are able to offer them insights into things that they are not all-knowledgeable about and really value your opinion on, for example the equity capital markets, is a really exciting feeling.
What is the best advice you could give an intern today?
I think I may have already touched on it, but Numis is small enough that you can, if you make it your mission, get to know everyone. There is so much intellectual capital at your disposal at Numis and I have gained so much from building relationships internally, from research to sales to trading and frankly everywhere in the firm. Everyone is approachable and everyone has something invaluable to teach you, whether it is in meetings, or just during the informal conversations around the desk or on the trading floor. Listen and learn as much as you can, and ask lots of questions. It’s vital. That’s one of the reasons that getting back into the office is for me so important. The ‘informal’ learning that happens ‘off camera' just cannot be replicated virtually.