This is the third profile in our series of
inspiring alumni, termed Graduates of Global Distinction, and Bruce has really hit the ground running since leaving UEA in September 2015. Bruce completed his first degree at UEA and studied for his masters at NBS. As well as being academically gifted, Bruce took full advantage of the opportunities available at UEA and completed three international internships including Thailand, Cameroon and Qingdao, China. In addition he took over the presidency of one of our sporting societies. A Graduate of Global Distinction excels academically, makes an impact in society and has a global perspective. Dr Graham Manville, Director of Employability added that “Bruce’s experience will provide inspiration to our current and future graduates”. Here is Bruce’s Story in his own words.
Where I Am Now
Today I am a management consultant with Capco in the financial industry, working at a tier 1 investment bank. The project I currently work in involves helping the bank meet the regulations that the Federal Reserve implemented following the financial crisis of 2008. The great thing about being a consultant is it is project work which you get to see from start to completion, or after a few months, if you want to try something new, you can. There are many different areas in the financial industry for consultants, from capital markets or wealth management to the new digital banking start-ups. So there is something for everyone. Being a consultant is really a job for a person who has strong people skills, thinks logically and enjoys problem solving. Saying that, some positions, particularly with the digital side may demand a completely different skill set. So it is all about applying yourself to the role.
Let me start by saying my journey, and nearly every consultant’s that I work with, has been very varied. I’m not from your typical finance background, who-you-know path, unlike most of the bankers I half with. I favoured economics and the humanities at A-Level and at undergrad I studied the perfect mix; International Development and Economics with OSE. It all happened in a bit of a rush, I was actually working full-time as a fruit and vegetable delivery driver in Devon (I loved that job) when I received my higher than expected A-levels, and with the university price hike rise, it was a no-brainer to pack my bags and find a university. I chose UEA over some higher ranked universities in the end because it offered campus lifestyle and the course prospectus contained a review from someone who nipped off to Fiji as part of the degree – I fancied a bit of that.
Anyway the three years flew by and in that time I had some great privileges from working in Thailand as a language teacher and instead of Fiji, managing a well-project in Cameroon, Africa. I also played rugby and took the ominous task of being president of the university club post-ban.
Generally put, the study of poverty alleviation and inequality is a different world to that of investment banking, however I loved my undergrad degree, especially the module I spent working in Cameroon, and one day intend to revisit the development sector. This intention goes in-line with my game plan, which was to work in the private sector, enjoying the luxuries of the rat race whilst I am young to then one day head back into development, once I have earned enough. I made this game plan after a coffee with the CEO of a micro-finance firm I nearly joined after finishing my final year; he had gone off and made a living in the city before moving to the Pacific. He recommended I gave the city a shot first.
Although I am sure others would have gone straight into the city or left to pursue their careers, I felt that further education was the path for me. I knew that having a post-graduate degree would greatly enhance my chances of a successful job in the increasingly competitive market, especially in a business related field, so I stayed another year to study MSc Business Management with Norwich Business School. This degree definitely helped me develop skills such as strategic planning, presenting and business analysis, which are all vital to being a consultant. It is strange, at the time you often think how meaningless a piece of work is, as everything seems so short-term to get the grade, without realising you will actually revisit a lot of this subject matter again. Although at the time I was just punching for the grade, I am able to relate back to the skills daily in my current work, and could bring up the modules in my application.
Following the end of my masters, I applied to the British Council Scholarship programme that funded an internship for me at an investment bank in Qingdao. Here I encountered a new culture and critically an experience of a foreign workplace. I loved it but chose not to stay as I found the language barriers hard. The tip would be that if you can’t speak the language join a multinational company.
When it came to the decision to come home, it was hard, but I couldn’t help but feel I was missing the boat on graduate applications. So I came home and concentrated on the applications, I probably applied to between 50 – 100 companies, for varying roles from procurement to banking, getting turned down from many, before finally settling on the offer I have now accepted.
Nevertheless, looking back at the last five years, there is nothing I would change; UEA has grown massively since 2011 and will only continue to climb the rankings. Yet the degree is less or equal to half of what counts in those five years. My message would be the things I did on top of my degree got me here; character building things like travel and sport, take part in extracurricular activities that show your ambition for business, such entrepreneur competitions, student memberships of institutions, or volunteering. Furthermore, reach out and go for coffee with people who are in positions who can offer advice, it never hurts to ask. Lastly, don’t get down-heartened when getting turned down in an application, get feedback where possible and learn from it, then try again. Once you are in, you are in.
Bruce mentioned that Capco is looking for bright graduates. For more information about national and international opportunities, have a look at Capco’s recruitment webpage.
With many thanks to Bruce Cracknell-Whiting for contributing to the NBS Blog.