Levelling the finance playing field

Many graduates entering the banking industry have contacts to help secure internships or give advice to help get their foot in the door.

Date: 12/02/2013

This, however, is being challenged by a unique programme that offers London Metropolitan University students the chance to develop the contacts and skills required to get ahead in the industry.     

Spearheaded by youth opportunities charity The Adab Trust, the Skills for Success project sees BA Banking and Finance students from the Business School work with State Street, the second largest custodian bank in the world. The students attend lectures and workshops with senior executives from the bank before writing a business report on its challenges and future opportunities. They then present their findings during a special event held at State Street’s Canary Wharf offices.  

“This is completely unique – nothing else comes close to this”, explained Dermot O’Brien, Chief Executive of The Adab Trust. “I’m a great believer in taking career advice from someone who is where you want to be. So what better people to learn from than senior professionals at State Street?
 
“There are always going to be differences in life chances for young people, and for these students that may seem very unfair. This work and that of the Trust attempts to level up the playing field and I’m delighted that enlightened companies such as State Street are willing to support our efforts.” 

London Metropolitan University students, many of whom grew up in the shadow of Canary Wharf, have worked hard to get to university in pursuit of a successful career.  Banking and Finance undergraduate Ali Hassan is one such student. “I’m a Londoner, born and raised”, said Ali. “To come to State Street and see the people who work here, and to imagine that some day I could be one of them, is an amazing feeling. It’s great to get out of the classroom and see what the corporate world is all about. 

“This project is really hands-on and helps us overcome the idea that we can’t do this kind of thing. Getting up in front of senior finance professionals and realising ‘yes, I can do this and I do have something valuable to say’ is not something you can learn in a lecture theatre.”  

This sentiment is shared by David Nevill, Assistant Vice President, State Street Global Services, whose enthusiasm for the project is clear to see. “State Street is very keen on helping local communities and this is one way of supporting young people in London. It’s a great opportunity for students who have the desire to work in finance but don’t happen to know anyone in the industry. 

“We focus on building the confidence and skills which will make these students stand out when they go for job interviews. It’s all about knowing how to sell themselves to potential employers and having the soft skills to match their academic qualifications.”

The project is now in its second year following a successful pilot in 2012. Over 30 London Met students took part in this year’s process, culminating in the presentation event at State Street in January. 

Ron Cambridge, Senior Lecturer in London Metropolitan Business School, said: “This is a very special collaboration, bringing together a post 92 university with a major financial institution. Our students are often the first in their families to go to university and many have never been in a corporate environment before. Hopefully this experience will both inspire them further and also prepare them for what lies ahead in their careers.

“It’s a truly novel idea in which everyone benefits, and I hope we will continue in this work for many years to come.”

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