How to get ahead fast

At Bloomberg those with talent can progress quickly. The Gateway spoke to three members of the Analytics department to find out who Bloomberg wants to recruit and how you can rise through the ranks

Robert Holland - Regional Manager

Could you outline your career at Bloomberg?

I started in the Data department, and after working there for about a year and a half, I moved to the Analytics helpdesk, where I answered clients' questions. That took me to Sales, where I sold Bloomberg terminals to interdealer brokers, corporations, asset managers, fund managers and major investment banks. Eventually, I became a team leader. I then moved from Sales to manage the Analytics helpdesk for the whole of Europe, which comprises about 230 people at the moment.

What attributes do you think have enabled you to progress into a senior role?

Overall, I would say it's enthusiasm that's driven my career forward. It's important to be positive and to do everything with gusto. To get anywhere within any organisation you also have to work hard. Communication skills are also important because in the complicated world of finance you need to be able to express yourself clearly. It's also fast-paced, so you need to be concise. And you also need to be able to listen to people carefully.

I would also say that here at Bloomberg having a passion for the products, that is, a really good knowledge of what we have available, is very important . It's also crucial to know why our clients use us, which means understanding their workflow and the needs of their businesses. Another important element is an interest in the financial markets - I have learnt a lot about them and keep abreast of what's going on.

How do junior team members get promoted?

In general, people do well who ask questions, are resourceful, and are quick to build networks which they can use to find answers. Excellent junior team members also share knowledge as well as acquire it.

We are a meritocracy here at Bloomberg - because of the transparency of the organisation, it's very easy for people to get noticed if they are doing a great job. If someone shows that they have the potential to be a great leader, we'll start working with them early on to get them into a role where they are running a team of 10 or 15 people. You can also drive your own career. Maybe someone wants to get into sales as soon as possible, or to become a specialist in a particular area. How do you get promoted into these roles? First, we ask someone to be at the top of their game in their current role, performing better than their peers. We also look at their judgement and whether they're a team player. Next they'll have an interview where they can sell themselves to us and we can challenge them with difficult scenarios to see how well they can deal with them.

We also like our junior employees to show they're creative and to take risks. Before Christmas, one of our clients got upset because they weren't comfortable with an upgrade to a product. The employee dealing with the client worked exceptionally hard to get the client back to the old software and also got an appointment to see him. The employee told the client that he was going to bring along some Bloomberg marketing goodies and the client jokingly asked him for some mince pies too. So this employee bought some mince pies, went over to the client's trading floor and the client was blown away. I'm not saying that customer service is all about giving out mince pies, but what the employee did really opened doors for us there - the client has now embraced the upgraded product because they saw how willing we were to go the extra mile.

Here at Bloomberg, we have a clear training structure which helps people to progress. When anybody joins Analytics they start with an eight-week training programme which teaches people about the product, our clients and our internal processes. Later there is specialised and on-the-job training. The people that I see progress quickly will also use their own Bloomberg terminal to teach themselves. We also give people a budget to buy books on finance.

What do you look for in graduates?

On top of the passion for finance and strong communication skills that I've mentioned already, I would say I also look for a strong customer service ethos. People that really have customer service running through their veins understand that it isn't about meeting the expectations of clients, but exceeding those expectations. For example, somebody in my department was contacted by a journalist writing about the solar energy market who was having problems finding and representing suitable data. This particular employee spent hours working with this journalist - suggesting new ideas and liaising with other departments. In the end, the chart that the employee generated for the journalist was so powerful that it became one of the most read Bloomberg stories that day.

It's great if someone has a financial background, but it's not a requirement. What we are looking for is people who have demonstrated a true interest in finance, perhaps by having taken some relevant modules on their degree course, by having done their CFA or the IMC exams, or just by reading some finance books. We're not expecting students to be all-knowledgeable because we're going to train them up to an excellent standard ourselves.

What advice do you have for students applying to Bloomberg?

Excellent candidates have researched Bloomberg in depth - the different products, our competitor landscape and the clients to whom we sell.

I also like to meet applicants who keep up with the news, particularly financial news. We expect people in the organisation to stay current so that they sound credible when they talk to our clients and so I am looking for people who can describe things that they have read in the financial pages in some detail.

I expect people at an interview to be able to give in-depth answers. Many graduates that I see use standard buzz words like "team player" "communication skills" and "customer service", but the candidates that impress are those that can demonstrate that they have these skills by talking about when they have used them. Before applicants see me they shadow someone in my department and the cleverest candidates show how their experiences are relevant to the role here, for example, saying exactly how they could use the skills they developed while working in a busy bar once they're here at Bloomberg.

Emma Watt - London Manager

Could you outline your career at Bloomberg?

I started off in the Customer Support Department before moving to Analytics, where I worked for ten months assisting English and Italian clients. I then moved into Sales, where I started off looking after Dutch clients, and then became European relationship manager for a leading investment bank. About six months ago I moved back to Analytics, this time as a manager because I wanted to get to know the workings of the department as a whole.

What steps did you take to rise through the ranks of a corporate organisation?

I've driven my own progress because I'm an ambitious person and I want to succeed here. But I've also been assisted by excellent mentors who have helped me to develop my skills. You don't have to be here for a certain length of time before you're given the opportunity to lead a team or look after a big account - you just have to prove yourself.

What qualities have you developed to move forward?

Definitely communication skills - I think they're the key element you need to succeed here and it's what we look for when we recruit people. You have to learn to explain complex theories and solutions to clients who are often short of time.

Also an ability to manage people - I had never done this before I started here, but I think I had a natural aptitude for it and at Bloomberg you get plenty of opportunities to gain experience in this area.

What advice do you have for students applying to Bloomberg?

Swot up on us. Try to find out about not just our terminals, but also all the other products we offer and where the company is going in the future.

Make sure that Bloomberg is a good fit for you - we look for people who have a compelling reason for wanting a career in a sales-driven organisation.

Jalkamal Mehta - Team Leader

Could you outline your career at Bloomberg?

I first began my career in the Global Data Department. I then moved to Global Data Analytics Department. At the beginning of 2009 I moved to a brand new team, the Enterprise Products and Solutions team where I was working in a project management role with a Tier 1 Bank in London. At the beginning of 2010 I moved over to the Analytics department, where I became a team leader last July.

What does a junior team member need to do to get promoted?

Promotion is a two-way process. Individuals have to drive their own careers, but certainly at Bloomberg, managers will challenge you to help you progress if you have the potential to lead a team. At Bloomberg there is always the opportunity to learn and develop through training - there are training courses on improving your market knowledge, presentation, communication, management and so on. We have a dedicated learning and development team.

What skills have helped you rise up the ranks?

Being able to work in a team has been important. I would also say an ability to focus on clients and take ownership of relationships with them. Good communication and creativity have been crucial.

What advice do you have for students applying to Bloomberg?

Show that you have a passion for providing excellent customer service and give examples. You should also show that you can adapt to and bring about change because at Bloomberg we have to be innovative to meet our clients' needs. You could demonstrate this through something you did at university - for example, if you were part of a society and made a difference in some way.

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