Fast Track: CV - The trick is to try different jobs
Mark Bogard, Managing Director of b2
Thursday 24 September 1998
I GREW up in Swiss Cottage in North London and really did not have a clue what I wanted to do. I went to a brilliant school, Hampstead University College, where the teachers taught you much more about life than just their subjects. It was quite a liberal school where you are either going to get straight A's or fail completely. Luckily, I did all right and went to Cambridge University to read geography.
But I decided to change at the end of my first year to do law. When you do that you get on a "conveyor belt" and I did my articles for two years at Slaughter and May.
I also took a year out as a ski instructor in Scotland. I would advise graduates to do lots of jobs. I have worked in a staff canteen, London Zoo and even though the jobs can be terrible, they give you vital experience which you will always draw on.
My first day at Slaughter and May I was among a group of 25 new recruits and we were told that they expected us to become small-minded and pedantic and that is what being a lawyer is all about.
I realised that was not something I wanted to do.
Instead, I became interested in why the lawyers were doing their work. So, after two years I left. It was funny because they make you feel as if you are leaving the womb.
I thought of taking up two different careers, either becoming a trader because I had seen them in films or doing corporate finance. I decided to go into finance and joined Schroders, where I was for five years before b2 started with Barclays.
It was during the Eighties which was a very exciting time with silly amounts of money going around but I remember being worried at the start because I joined two weeks after the big crash in October 1988.
At Schroders I was 25 and had to start at the foot of the ladder all over again. But what was fantastic was that I met so many chairmen and chief executives of big firms.
It was a priceless experience to see all those kinds of people in action.
At Schroders they always had two people who worked with the board on strategy and I really enjoyed doing that for the two years before I left.
I decided to do something new because I felt I had done corporate finance and did not want to be doing it for another 30 years.
After two years of market research into how we could offer a financial service to people with the stock market, where they would also have peace of mind, b2 was created in May this year.
We realised that the problem was that the average person did not know what a unit trust was and banks had been trying to sell these things for 60 years. Part of b2 is about re-packaging the idea of saving with the stock market, and we could tell we had it right by the look in the eyes of the focus groups when we went back to them with our plans.
It is a very new company but we are delighted with the start we have made and I am very happy with how my career has turned out. I made a few moves but ended up doing what I always wanted to do, which isdoing things rather than advising people, like I was doing as a lawyer.
I would advise graduates to find out what they really want to do and to move around but most of all to learn from people.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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