Interview w/ Engineer turned 2nd Year PE Analyst

Mod note (Andy): Very happy to introduce to you this eve our newest blogger Singapore Sling. He worked in Australia for 3 years as an engineer before moving to finance in Singapore, and is currently a 2nd year PE Analyst. Over the coming weeks he will be sharing a regular post about, 'what he learnt this week' which will be a collection of thoughts over the week about work and life.

BACKGROUND:

What is your current job title and a one sentence description of your primary job responsibility?
Analyst - Manage research and strategy for an equity and commodity portfolio with a focus on ASEAN agriculture

What are previous positions you have held and how many years of experience do you have?
I worked as an engineer in the energy sector.

What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that you apply in your current position?

How to think...

What was your most useful class and why?
All mathematics classes

During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?
I wasn't... don't be afraid to pick up the phone.

What kind of internships did you have during ugrad?
Engineering

ADVICE:
What is the one tip you would give to current students (ugrad and/or grad students) to help them succeed?
Aim high; work hard; learn patience; enjoy yourself.

What are some tips for moving up and becoming "the boss" (i.e. a department head / managing director / partner)?
Take the initiative. Listen more than you talk. Be the person people come to with questions - know your stuff. Take pride in what you do - dress for the job you want rather than the one you have.

Any specific cold-emailing or cold-calling tips you can pass on?
Imagine you're the person reading it: Don't start every sentence with "I" and play to people's natural narcissism without being too obvious.

Any specific networking tips you can pass on?
The best networkers genuinely like to meet and get to know people. If you're solely there to 'network' people will smell your agenda and you're toast. Approach every business relationship with a 3-6month horizon, minimum. Someone's more likely to do you a favour I they consider you a friend - look up 'market vs social norms'.

What is a memorable experience you have of how someone got your attention? (for networking / internship / job purposes)
People that are funny and insightful impress me.

What are some ways (in general) someone could best prepare for an upcoming internship or ft job at a firm like yours?
Have a few investment ideas in their back pocket - these must relate to what a firm does, so understand their strategy and make sure you don't pitch a 3mo macro trade to a bottom-up, deep value shop. This is quite specific to the buy side.

What is your opinion on gaining relevant experience at a lesser known firm vs. working for a brand name firm (with less relevant experience)?
It depends a lot on the person. The value in a brand name shouldn't be underestimated. Especially if you want structure to your career development and aren't a big 'self-starter'.

If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what are some of the most common mistakes you've seen?
Too hard to read: Try giving a friend 30 seconds to read your CV and ask what they remember. You want to design the content and presentation around the assumption that this is all the attention it's getting by employers.

What are your thoughts on this statement: "Wall Street is a more meritocratic place than most. If you are a young person and you have good ideas, people will often listen to them, if you are in the right role"?
I would argue that this is highly variable on Buy vs Sell side, and also on firm size/structure. Some firms are wildly bureaucratic while others will give younger people with ideas a go; but that's usually because they don't know what they're doing themselves. So, it can be a blessing and a curse. When you want to work in a place where

Comments (6)

Oct 15, 2013

Singapore, thanks for doing this. Currently an engineer at a leading oil field services company but with a finance itch that will eventually need scratching. I'd be very interested in how you made the transition from energy engineering to PE - feel free to run with any of the following trains of thought

what qualified you for the analyst position at your PE shop?
how did you get the attention of a PE shop as an engineer?
you focus on agriculture despite an energy background - what was your value proposition as an engineer moving to PE?

Thanks again.

Oct 15, 2013
Singapore Sling:

If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what are some of the most common mistakes you've seen?

Too hard to read: Try giving a friend 30 seconds to read your CV and ask what they remember. You want to design the content and presentation around the assumption that this is all the attention it's getting by employers.

This is a very good idea.

Oct 16, 2013

Looking forward to this as I'm in a similar position; going into finance from an engineering background, only a stones throw away in Malaysia.

Hypothetically, do you think you could have made it to PE without the years as an engineer before hand, straight out of Uni, or was that experience the key factor you have got to where you are now?

Oct 16, 2013

I got in straight out of undergrad so It's possible but I was extremely lucky. Not very many active independent PE firms in Malaysia too.

Oct 16, 2013

I'm curious of the PE industry in Singapore:
Are there a lot of opportunities available in PE in Singapore?
Do local grads stand a chance in getting such jobs?

Oct 17, 2013
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