"I left a top US bank for Amazon. It was a GOAT move"
I used to work in a front office job at a US investment bank, but a few years ago I decided to get out. I didn't want to stay in banking or to join the buy-side - I wanted to work in big tech. Although the FAANG firms have been cutting staff this year, I maintain that it was the right thing to do. My former colleagues seem to have agree - they keep contacting me to say they'd like to do the same.
I work for Amazon. There are similarities to working for a bank. Jeff Bezos came from finance, and he's taken some of that culture and applied it here. We're a delivery-focused culture. If you perform, there will always be a place for you.
I was in a front office markets role in banking. People think those kinds of jobs have few transferable skills, but they're wrong. - I was creating solutions and that required very strong communication and problem-solving skills, first to establish the client's requirements and then to create a product tailored to their needs.
At Amazon, I'm using similar skills, but in a different context. I work in a senior program management role. Again, I need to understand the problem and derive a solution, but it's often far more complex with tangible real-world outcomes. I coordinate an entire work stream and need to understand requirements before working on the product. It's complex and means interacting with colleagues and with data in multiple jurisdictions.
It's a role that I find far more fulfilling than my job in banking. In finance, I was frustrated by the short term aspect of the work. Yes, the transactions were exciting, and I miss the stress and the rush, but after each one we would move on and it would be difficult to discern any impact. Here, I am building and shipping an entire product that I can see in action for years after it's launched.
I also feel that I'm developing more general skills that I can either apply elsewhere at Amazon or ultimately as an entrepreneur. In finance, you become hyper-specialized. I saw a lot of people who'd worked in my role for 10-15 years and had then made enough money to retire. I didn't want that.
I didn't know anything about technology firms when I left banking, but I set some time aside to do some serious research. I networked with people already in the industry and figured out that program management was the most sexy area. I didn't know how to code . I still don't - and that doesn't matter.
If you lose your job in banking this year, I'd therefore urge you to consider big tech. Yes, technology firms are cutting jobs, but their hiring will resume and there are more parallels between banking and technology than most people think. This is still a growth industry and it's very open to hiring people with finance backgrounds. More bankers need to know that.
Sergio Jacobson is a pseudonym
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