• Role: Investment Banking Analyst
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: MEng Engineering Science
  • Organisation: Lazard

Alice Walker

London living

I am not a city person at heart so I was apprehensive about moving to London, especially coming from a farming background. Studying at university gave me the chance to broaden my knowledge and life experience and then the internship at Lazard convinced me that it was the right move for me personally and professionally. The diverse range of opportunities that I saw available not only changed my perspective on the industry but also on London as a whole – it offers a never-ending learning curve that suits the dynamic and the ambitious.

Why Lazard?

I heard about Lazard through a friend who spoke very highly of the firm and its culture. This prompted me to do some research into the bank and in turn I was keen to apply for the ten week internship during the summer of 2013.

What was the application process like?

The application process comprised of a series of ‘hurdled’ assessments including: written application questions (that were interesting and challenging to answer), online verbal and numerical tests, assessment exercises and then interviews.

Although it was quite a lengthy process, I appreciated getting to know the company culture and meeting a good range of people from the London office. When I was offered the internship, I was truly delighted and had no hesitation in accepting.

Tell us about the internship

The ten weeks were fascinating and gave me a real insight into the firm and the day to day work. The teams were very supportive and provided interesting yet challenging work. This made our experience authentic and really helped us prepare for the assessment presentation at the end of the internship – where you are given the opportunity to apply for a job as a graduate analyst commencing the following year.

When I received the phone call offering me the graduate analyst role, I was filled with so many emotions – relief, excitement and some disbelief! I actually had a job ready and waiting for me after my graduation! Although I was a little nervous about the challenges of the role, having the job offer allowed me to concentrate completely on my studies during fourth year, without the pressure of applications and interviews.

What skills are useful for your job?

An analyst requires a range of skills; numbers form the basis of every valuation, but strategic thinking is just as important. On the whole you need to be open to working long hours, working in teams and be prepared to adapt to tasks as they’re given to you, taking pride in every piece of work you produce.

The main responsibility is to support the senior bankers in marketing ideas and executing deals. This includes researching and consolidating market and sector data, identifying trends and benchmarking performance metrics. Analysing financials and preparing presentations are key areas of our role, designing the slides so that the information is displayed in an engaging and accessible manner.

What have you enjoyed about your role?

Since starting in July 2015, I have worked on marketing materials for new clients, options analyses for potential clients, strategic reviews for existing clients and private sell-side mandates. Deals are very opportunistic, and can arrive like buses – you focus on marketing and pitching for a while, then execution work can come all at once.

It has been great to work with colleagues from a variety of academic backgrounds – not everyone is a maths or economics undergraduate at Lazard. From my Engineering Science degree, I had relevant and transferable skills to offer and I felt I could contribute from day one. I have also had the right training and guidance to support me in areas where I felt I needed development or further insight.

A typical day

Describing an average day is tricky, there really isn’t such thing. After arriving at 09:00, days vary from back-to-back meetings, both internal and client-facing, to a purely desk-based day working on marketing materials, a sell side information memorandum, or valuation analysis.

The pace of life takes some getting used to and sometimes I find myself wondering where the time goes. Day to day tasks as an investment banking analyst soon become second nature, but the specific detail around each task changes with every new company or project. There is a good balance of the familiar and the new and unique – especially whilst working on live deal tasks where the work is bespoke and tailored to the transaction and the client.

What are the most challenging parts of the job?

You feel the largest amount of pressure when there is a lot happening all at once and you have urgent deadlines to meet whilst making sure the details are perfect. With experience, you manage the pressure and stress so it motivates you to deliver results. It’s a collaborative environment so help is never far away and everyone around you understands the pressure.
The biggest challenge sometimes is maintaining the work/life balance during busy periods. The evenings can be long but the weekends are a great chance to catch up with friends and family and, of course, get back to the country to ride the horses!

Do you have any advice for those looking to move into the industry?

Firstly, don’t worry about picking the ‘right’ degree, we all come from a range of subjects. Secondly I would definitely recommend an internship in the industry; it’s a ten week trial giving you the best real life banking experience. And lastly, talk to as many people in as many different banks as possible. The work may be similar wherever you go, but the culture, style and location of each working environment is really what sets each bank apart. Good Luck!

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