Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What I do at RMB

First of all I would just like to thank Lesley Emanuel and Jean Power from the World of Work Training Programmes who helped me pave the way to what I have accomplished thus far. Lesley commented on my previous blog entry about my attitude that helped me become more employable. But without your support and encouragement, my attitude may have been a lot less employable :)

So, let me elaborate on my new post at Rand Merchant Bank. Currently, RMB has an outside contractor called Gary van Staden. He is a Political Analyst like me, although I lack in the many years of experience he has behind his name. Recently RMB decided to appoint its own Political Analyst. So I was appointed, and Gary is my trainer. Unfortunately I do not see Gary often enough and I would love to gain some of the vast amount of knowledge he has gathered over the years. But time will make the difference.

I am doing the risk part of what a Political Analyst does. Thus I do political risk analyses. This entails writing in-depth reports on different countries. My supervisor will tell me that RMB would like to invest a certain amount of money in a certain country, and what I will do is check whether the political scene in that country is stable enough for us to invest there. Some countries are easy to analyse. If you look at Iraq, your common sense tells you their political environment is not stable enough and you might lose a lot of money if you invest there. But if you look at a country like Brazil which, economically, seems stable, you might have to look at their political stability more thoroughly before you can decide whether their political risk is low, moderate or high.

I am working in the Credit Team for Treasury. A couple of us work on the country reports. I am the only political risk analyst other than Gary. The others will gather information on the economic side of a country, and also different areas like the infrastructure, health and education, etc. There are also credit analysts and administrators all around. I am still getting a feel for what everyone does and I learn new things everyday.

I’m hoping that in the near future I will be travelling around to gain hands-on experience in different countries. RMB encourages such activity and realises how important it is to gain contacts and build a strong network. I have already been to Cape Town to attend a business forum for investing in countries like China, India, Brazil, and the rest of Africa. And what an experience it was. People are open to gaining knowledge from others and to network and share their own understandings.

I always thought that it would be difficult for a person like me without any degree in finance to work in a corporate/financial environment. But I proved this doubt wrong when my first real job was at an investment bank. The only advice I can give to someone who has the same worry is to try and learn new aspects of your environment and what your company does every day. Make the effort to gain more knowledge, ask questions, and be open to new ideas.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Permanent job

I haven’t blogged since September, but to try and make a long story short, things have been going very well in the past few months. My contract at RMB was once again extended in December 2006 for another six months. My supervisors, Michele and Taryn, also gave me the opportunity to go and look for other positions in the Bank which could be permanent instead of contract. Many colleagues, with whom I’ve become good friends, have helped me with the process of looking for another position by referring me to certain people or just generally giving me sound advice. It all paid off and I was referred to the Treasury department of the Bank. They were looking for a Political Risk Analyst. Mid-January I had an interview, and within a week I was told I was qualified for the position and my letter of appointment was set up. Sign, sealed, delivered.

I have learnt so many things the past 10 months. I have enjoyed every minute of working with my team and, even though I’m nervous of moving into a new team, I am very excited to broaden my network and learning new things. I would also like to comment on the generosity I have experienced while working at RMB. If it wasn’t for the help of my colleagues, especially my team and the great opportunities they gave me, I would not have been in the position I am now. It’s amazing to know that there are people out there rooting for you and hoping you will make a great success of your life. I am very excited to be a full-time employee at RMB. It has definitely lived up to its name of being the preferred employer.

It has almost been a year since I started the World of Work 2006 training programme, and it has definitely paid off to do the course. I got into an internship with the help of the programme, and even though I started off doing a job I didn’t understand and didn’t study, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be: Politics. It’s like they say, getting that foot in the door can help immensely. Good luck to those starting the training programme this year. It is well worth it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Still going strong

Work at RMB has been a great experience so far. The learning curve is steep and I’m enjoying every minute of learning new and interesting things. We have two new employees in our Change Management Team and they are great. We all get along very well. That is maybe my number one reason why I enjoy working here so much. My colleagues can make a long day feel like an hour and they are all very helpful. It’s a great feeling to be able to be innovative, take leadership in some of the little projects I do, and having fun at the same time.

It is quite shocking how long ago our team had contributed to this blog. I apologise to those who have been reading our blog entries (if there is anyone out there). Things have been going crazy lately, especially after my 3 month internship was done. That was about 2 months ago, and now I’m sitting typing from my computer at work. I’m sure everyone else in our team has just as hectic a schedule as mine. I’m hoping, and would love to hear, whether any more of our team members have found internships or permanent jobs. I’m positive all of you did, because we were a hard-working bunch. Please let me know what has been happening.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Opening the door to new opportunities

Yes, its been a long time since I wrote a blog entry. I feel very guilty because lots have happened since my last entry and I haven’t shared it yet.

The last two weeks have been quite eventful. After Mpho and I finished our internship at Rand Merchant Bank, it was back to square one. But luckily I received a call from my supervisors at RMB saying they need me to help with some projects within the Change and Communications Team. So my contract got extended until December.

Since then things have been going very well. The project I am doing will start taking shape this week. I’m doing research at the moment and also little odds and ends which have to be finalised so I’m keeping quite busy. I’ve settled in quite nicely at RMB and have made many friends already. That’s the best part of working here. Last Saturday we had a “Christmas in July” party at my boss Michele’s house. It was great to socialise with my colleagues outside the office. It gives the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level.

I will definitely blog on my future experiences at RMB so watch this space. After reading Lesley Emanuel’s blog on our yahoo group mails about showcasing our employability, it made me realise how important it is to show your employability and using the opportunities we gain to the full. We’ve heard about networking and employability throughout the World of Work 2006 Programme and it was hard to understand it at that moment because hardly any of us ever experienced it seeing that we were recent graduates. The hard work has paid off and its not only my foot that’s in the door anymore, now I’ve got the opportunity to open the door wide and look for other doors to open.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Taking leave

I am officially taking my first ever leave from work on Thursday and Friday. Its great to know I’ve been working here for only three months and I already accumulated some leave. Long weekend here I come!

This past week has been a little bit slow at the office. Our supervisors were gone for a while so we were left to do some extra tasks, but we finished them in record time and had nothing to do the rest of the day. But its nice to have some time to do some internet browsing and networking with people within RMB. I had coffee with some of the Economists here at RMB on Monday and they gave great advice as to what directions I can head in with my qualifications and interests. And after our chat I felt ready to tackle the student world again. I have considered the possibility of not getting a decent job opportunity in the near future. Thus I have decided if this had to happen, I will continue with my MA next year. When I think about it I get quite excited because I have some topics of interest that I would love to write a dissertation on. I’m not sure what course I would take but the decision is still in the pipe line and is still being considered.

I spoke to Pascalia, a fellow World of Work Training colleague, the other day. She is working at Nedlac and from the sounds of her blog she is having a super time. Our conversation was very brief but it was great to hear from her. Mpho has heard from Yoliswa, and things are also going well there at the AICC. I’m still wondering how things are going with Zanele at De Beers. It’s a great company to work for so I’m sure things are going according to plan.

My time is quickly running out and I cannot believe that 3 months will be over next week. It felt like years ago that we were all sitting in the post-grad room at Wits having our coffees and good conversations. The training has definitely been of great help to me in the working world and I would certainly recommend it to other students. It has opened many doors for me and I have met so many wonderful people through my internship at RMB.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The last month of our internship

This week has been filled with administrative odds and ends. Its fun to do these things because it gives me a break from doing research and sitting behind the computer all day, which often takes its toll on the body. Our research on Change and Communications Management toolkits is going great and Mpho helps me a lot. This is the task we have been given right at the beginning of our internship and every now and then, between all the other tasks we have been given, we will sit down and concentrate on this work.

I’m very excited for next week. We are invited to a seminar on Change and Communications Management with our other supervisor, Michele Wickham. A couple of weeks ago she went to a worldwide conference on this specific topic in Colorado and is going to give us the feedback on Tuesday.

I’ve have loved working life so far. My daily routine never gets tedious and seeing friends for a quick drink after work is also great. Most of my friends work so all of us know that time is precious with your friends. I was also told the novelty of working life will wear off but so far I’m still enjoying every moment.

Monday, June 19, 2006

CSI - Corporate Social Investment

Congratulations to all of those who are busy with their internships and those who have found a permanent job. But I must say I couldn’t expect anything less from our class. We all worked very hard to benefit from the training we have received.

I just want to give some information through to specifically Cyrille and also anybody who finds Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) an area of interest. To me its not only an area of interest but also an area of necessity for the South African economy and the companies who adopt this way of working.

I found great articles from my supervisor at work, Fiona McDonald, who is actually a consultant for Rand Merchant Bank. And part of her consulting is Corporate Social Responsibility. She gave me a journal to do some extra reading on the topic. It is called “Above Board – Africa’s Global Chronicle on Governance, Leadership and Ethics”. Fiona wrote an article on the importance of CSI and CSR called “The (Social) Butterfly Effect”. This article expresses the nature of these areas and explains that if companies invest in these two areas, the society who will benefit from this will in turn invest into South Africa’s economy, which in turn will increase, like Fiona says, the ‘brand position’ of the company. Here is a short extract from her article to explain it better:

“Investment in education, skills development, healthcare, literacy, child care, HIV/Aids, gender abuse and the like builds a society that can participate more effectively in the economy.In doing this, we create more skilled employees, more consumers, a healthier nation with a longer lifespan – the ripple or butterfly effect – thus contributing to the economy for a longer period of time, and in a more valuable manner. And all the while, the brand position of the organisation is being enhanced.”

The Johannesburg Securities Exchange has a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index to identify which companies invest socially. This Index assists the JSE in choosing which company to invest in. Companies are ranked according to their achievements with regards to CSI and CSR. The JSE explains the bacground and selection criteria on their website at

I thought you, Cyrille, might find this journal very interesting, and also the JSE website could give you more information so that you can incorporate this knowledge with your internship. There is still so much to say about this topic. And I do still think that many companies have not yet realised what a positive impact CSI will have on them and on the South African society as a whole. I think the whole process of the JSE SRI Index should be more publicised and companies who are part of the Index should be praised even more. What do you think could be done to increase investors and society’s interest?

Graduate programmes

Our time at RMB is running out quickly. While I’m enjoying my job thoroughly and learning everyday, there is this sad feeling inside me when thinking of leaving in a month. There is always the chance of exploring the opportunities available at RMB and one thing that I’m taking out of this internship into my next career is the positive feedback and the positive outlook I have experienced in the last two months.

We have been taught over again that we have the right to approach our supervisors and ask for feedback on our performance at RMB. However, we have been beaten to it. Our supervisors have been giving us feedback even before we could ask. The feedback is great and it boosts the confidence immensely. And it showed me that one of the main problems graduates face is their own self assurance once they start working. To me this is one of the main reasons behind graduates being scared to start working and the big gap between studying and our first job.

I must say I felt the same. I heard many stories how employers do not want graduates and how graduates do not have the experience to start working. This links to my first blogging entry “Experience or no experience? That is the question”. I questioned the whole issue of the unreasonable argument of graduates needing experience before you can start your first job at certain places.

RMB took me in as an intern without any experience. And so far I have seen that being a hard worker and a keen learner will get you where you want. What employers should look for is not just the experience behind a graduate’s name, but also their abilities and desire to learn about the company and its people/clients. The graduate should be one to add value to the company, whether he has less than one year experience behind his name or more. I think more companies should start Graduate Programmes. This will train graduates according to the needs of the company and it will add value to the company to bring in fresh new ideas and faces. And this will help address the training deficit South Africa is experiencing at the moment.

RMB offers internships for certain areas of the Bank if anyone would like to apply. One can reply on the RMB website at