Below is an extract of a profile of myself by Clay 'Mudlark' Harris, originally published in the January 2013 S&I Review. It was a great opportunity to be able to share my story with 'Mudlark' and for this to be shared with other people in my industry. Alastair Majury talked with 'Mudlark' in 2012.
Here is a link to the January 2013 S&I Review, you may need to be a member of CISI, which if you work in Financial Services and are not already a member I would recommend that you do so.
Anyway without further delay here is the story of Alastair Majury up to 2012.
Alastair Majury ACSI is not one to sneer at ‘McJobs’. It is only recently, after more than six years spent in financial services, that his time in the sector has exceeded the length of employment at his first employer – McDonald’s.
Alastair now works as Senior Business Analyst for Barclays in Glasgow. It is a contract position, as most of his roles have been since his first and longest financial services job, with HSBC Securities Services. That, for many, is the nature of a back-office career in 2013.
Superficially, at least, there’s a contrast with the security and the structure of his experience at McDonald’s, during which he rose from crew member to administrative manager at its Stirling drive-through restaurant.
When studying at the University of Glasgow for his first degree, in economics, Alastair travelled the 30 miles back to Stirling each weekend to work shifts. During summer holidays, he worked there full time.
Overall, he spent six years at the restaurant, while earning an MSc in information technology at the University of Stirling. Once he completed his studies, Alastair continued working at McDonald’s before changing direction and moving into financial services.
What did he learn at McDonald’s? The importance of each step in a process – “some of them you hate, but they all need to be done” – and how to organise different teams of people. He also developed a strong work ethic that has served him well in the financial world.
Alastair has a strong work ethic that serves him well
At HSBC, Alastair worked as a market data administrator in an office that was a legacy of the bank’s takeover of Bank of Bermuda. Most of its clients were hedge funds. He largely worked as a business analyst for the over-the-counter derivatives team and global market data department.
After nearly three years, however, he could see little prospect of making progress, so he took a year’s break to earn a post-graduate diploma in banking from the University of Stirling.
It was an opportunity not only to enhance his qualifications in areas specific to investment banking, but also to demonstrate to future prospective employers his commitment to the sector.
Alastair returned to the job market as a change analyst for Royal Bank of Scotland Change Services. In the role, he was an active intermediary between the business unit that specified its needs and the IT department.
That first financial position was as a contractor, but the job was outsourced after a year, and he went on – again as a contractor – to manage and implement an initiative for Citibank. During his stint as Project Manager, Alastair made sure the work was completed on time.
Alastair then joined Barclays as a senior business analyst, working on its Project Gamma expansion programme.
When his part of the project was put on hold, he left at the beginning of 2012 to travel in California for a month. “When I got back in February, it took me to until July to find a job,” he says.
The role, which Alastair still holds, was again with Barclays on Project Gamma – this time working on the creation of a central data warehouse.
Planning a career is difficult in a less predictable and more insecure job market than enjoyed by some earlier generations of professionals.
Alastair acknowledges: “Our industry as a whole is operating in a tough environment, and the back office faces extra challenges and change because of offshoring. But change brings opportunities, so it’s important to keep your eyes open and grab any that come your way.”
I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if anyone would like to profile me again and allow me to share an updated version of my experiences so that others either in the Project Management and/or Financial Services sectors can benefit.