Day 1: Starting From Zero
In new relationships, whether personal or professional, experience had taught me years ago that it is always best to level expectations up front. Sooner or later one's imperfections will surface anyway. Thus, being honest about my own shortcomings at the outset is less stressful for me over the long term. This time-tested approach uniquely afforded me the soft landing that I needed in my brave new world of investment banking, especially since I was expected to hit the ground running.
Remember for a moment that in 1995, the economic mantra during the incumbency of then President Fidel V. Ramos was to make the Philippines the new tiger economy in Asia. It was also a period when “emerging markets” was the new darling of the world’s money men. They were all beating a path to the economic miracles in this part of the world. As you can imagine, the grand capital markets carousel would not stop revolving simply because a newbie investment banker wanted to board but needed time to learn the ropes of the trade.
Thus, on the morning of May 29th, when I walked into the room of my new boss the first thing I did was to tell him nicely in so any words that, save for the crash program in project development/management which I recently completed, I was coming from virtually zero in investment banking. It took courage to admit that given the legend that has grown around him in the bank’s gossip mill. At over six feet tall with a booming voice, the boss was a hulk of a man. An intimidating presence. He was appropriately pedigreed, had worked at Wall Street before he was recruited to head the bank’s investment banking group, and as the grapevine speculated, maybe a tough cookie as well.
I watched his body language as I made my self-deprecating remark, but could not detect either way how he took what I just said. He simply sidestepped the issue by explaining to me his vision and expectations for my team. As I rose to leave the boss’ room minutes later, I had the sense that I’ve just made a connection somehow when he reassured me that I will learn along the way. To me, those cryptic words meant that his expectations have been levelled. That’s not a bad accomplishment on my first day in the pressure-cooker world of investment banking. I doubt if anything could be worse than starting from zero on Day 1.
Continued in Part 3 (A Steep Learning Curve)....
(The clipart shown above courtesy of Barrysclipart.com)
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