When Sameer Syed worked as an investment banker at JP Morgan, he knew that every email had to be perfect.
“You didn’t want to make a mistake in an email and have someone senior read it,” he says. “They might be like, ‘This guy doesn’t really care about his work.'”
This pressure to get the details right ended up serving Syed well, even after he quit finance and headed off to work at a tech startup.
Today, he works in strategic partnerships at Google and organizes quarterly roundtables known as Wall Street to Silicon Alley, which strives to help financial professionals transition to jobs at tech startups.
“That’s my goal, to highlight some of the talent that exists on Wall Street and figure out ways for tech companies and startups to start tapping into them,” he says. “In finance, you have to have a very good work ethic.”
He says that bankers and other financial professionals tend to possess a tremendous work ethic and a fresh perspective that can compliment traditional tech workers.
Here are two other strengths that Syed says finance workers can bring to the world of tech:
1. Attention to detail
When Syed landed his first job at a tech startup, his colleagues would often comment on his emails and presentations.
“They were like, ‘Oh wow this is very clean and very professional. It looks like we hired a bank to do this,'” he says. “And I was like, ‘Well, I did work at a bank.'”
Syed credits his time in finance with sharpening his attention to detail.
“When you’re sending out emails when you’re working in banking you have to be super detail-oriented and make sure that there’s no mistake and no errors,” he says. “Every presentation you put together is very nicely done. The formatting is perfect. Everything is great. That kind of stuff is super valuable.”
Syed says that, despite the stereotypes about stiff bankers, flexibility is a trait that most financial professionals are taught to embrace.
“You develop an ability to adapt very quickly and learn about new products very quickly,” he says.
This means learning things on the job, quickly.
“That’s one of the things that I always tell people, to make sure they can demonstrate that in an interview with tech startups,” he says. “Explain that, ‘I can pivot very quickly and pick up a new product or understand a new concept very quickly because I’ve done that in investment banking. I’ve had to understand new regulations that will have an impact on my client, or if I’m working with financial products I need to understand all the products.'”
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