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.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Hello again Celeste, I find what you say about not being discouraged by not having the pre-requisite background. This is particularly worrying for those of us in the Social Sciences,as we are seen more as 'paper pushers'. I would not like to be judged only on my qualifications but also by the things I have been engaged in and my personality. Could you please share with us how you put your cv on your blog? Also how you make links to other sites. URL's etc? Thank you! Please send info to me and I'll share it. My email is

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Hello Celeste,
You've been very quiet. How is work et al? Well, we're done with the training and some members of the team have gone for interviews. A few have even been accepted into internships. Beauty Katongo to Ochre Media and Susan Arthur to Brunswick. Thomas Blaser got a permanent position with the South Africans Race Relations Institute. Others are still going for interviews. I am leaving for the States in August on a nine-month fellowship at Bard Colege in up-state Newyork. Depending on what opportunities come my way, I should be back here in June of 2008 to tidy up at Wits and do an internship (hopefully). How's work? You're probably quite busy. Well all the best.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Clare said...

Hi Celeste,

I am a recent graduate from Rhodes University where I got my Honours degree in political and international studies. I am very interested in getting into political risk analysis and was wanting to know if you could give any advice on how to get into the industry or any companies you could suggest I approach?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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