Career advice. Insights from two generations.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Career Start program, our flagship program for graduates. We asked Francisca, who completed the program a decade ago and has since built a brilliant career as Managing Director, and Jan, a current program participant, to share their stories and offer career advice for those who are beginning their professional journey.
Jan: Francisca, despite having a background in architecture, you joined Credit Suisse as a Career Starter in 2005 and have been with the bank since then. Can you still remember what made you join the Career Start program and enter banking?
Francisca: My Career Start program always had something to do with real estate and architecture. I started out in Credit Risk, before moving to Investment Banking Real Estate, then Asset Management Real Estate. Everything else – such as cash flow modeling and all finance topics – I gradually picked up during the program. Today I am responsible for a business of more than CHF 7 billion with over 60 employees globally. It has been an amazing journey with Credit Suisse, which I began as a Career Starter. Whether you come from an architecture, philosophy or other background, the Career Start program gives you the chance to specialize and at the same time acquire an understanding of all banking and finance topics.
Francisca: How about yourself, Jan? You are participating in the Career Start program now. What was your reason for joining Credit Suisse?
Jan: After graduating with a degree in Banking and Finance, I joined the Career Start program to explore the world of banking and put my knowledge into practice. However, some of my peers come from different academic backgrounds, and it is great that Credit Suisse allows you to make the most of your background and personal qualities. The program is very flexible and offers lots of opportunities, but you need to have a proactive approach and actively collaborate with people. I was really struck by that.
Jan: What expectations did you have towards your career?
Francisca: I had clear and specific expectations with regard to the job I applied for. I wanted to gain a foothold in the real estate sector before moving on to the investment side. My expectations were totally surpassed during my Career Start experience, because I was then given an opportunity to gain insight into different areas such as Asset Management and Investment Banking. That really did open new doors for me and showed me new options. One of the key factors was the support provided by my line managers. They are the ones who gave me the opportunity to join the program and fulfill my potential.
Francisca: Jan, what about your career plans and your long-term goals?
Jan: Ever since I was a child, I've always known that I wanted to work in a bank. What better way to discover the available opportunities than through a program like this? All the shadowing days and rotations gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with all areas – from Corporate Banking through the institutional clients business to Private Banking – and to talk to everyone and to see how their day-to-day business works. That helped a lot in terms of finding out what my priorities are, and what I'd like to do long term.
What I value a lot was the responsibility I was given from the start. I've already had a front-office role and I was in direct contact with clients. We are a service provider and clients are our top priority; the fact that I was immediately allowed to be in contact gave me immediate recognition. Also, moving from the university to the working world was a big change. At university you're used to everything being very short lived. But when you arrive in the corporate world, you realize that you need to think with a longer-term perspective and focus on the long term. The Career Start program helped me adapt to this change. What's more, I feel Credit Suisse truly provides you with this flexibility as well as many opportunities to find out where you see yourself and where your own strengths lie.
Jan: Also, what I appreciate at Credit Suisse and what is important for my generation are flexible and agile work models. These options are available, and they're popular. In my opinion, they have a positive effect on an employee’s morale and motivation. How do you feel about it?
Francisca: There's been a massive change in regard to employment models, and Credit Suisse is a pioneer on this front. We've got it all in our team: part-time employees, people who work from home, professionals switching careers, graduates, seniors. Companies wanting to hire the best talent need to adapt to the needs of their people. Credit Suisse does this in an exemplary way.
Jan: Francisca, you hire Career Starters yourself today. How do you support their professional development?
Francisca: For us, it's vital that Career Starters are properly deployed right from the start and given the necessary flexibility. When we hire Career Starters, we make sure that we enable them to develop their full potential and that we really focus on very specific, individual development. Career Starters are tomorrow's generation. The bank needs to guide them in the right direction, and we need to give them the best possible preparation through dedicated training and leadership. Jan, you mentioned that you go to client meetings. Great. If you enjoy this task, we, as a bank, should make sure that you develop successfully in that area. Someone else might be more mathematically gifted, so we need to ensure they can develop further in that field.
Francisca: It sounds to me that you’re very excited about the program and the opportunities it offers. I am very curious to hear three reasons why you would recommend the program to a graduate.
Jan: The key point is the unique opportunity to familiarize yourself with a full-service bank – the opportunity to get to know its three pillars: Institutional, Corporate, and Private Banking. You won't find that very often. Then there are the contacts you're able to make. I've met a lot of great colleagues and made good friends here. The third reason links into the first: the chance to get to know yourself better. The program is flexible enough to allow you to develop your interests accordingly. You get the opportunity to explore everything, to develop, and to chart your own course.