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Südstern Campus: What I learnt from my mentor

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Lucian Aguilar from Laas (Vinschgau) joined Credit Suisse for a Graduate Training Program in June 2013. Lucian is a member of Südstern Campus. We talked to him about his experiences with Campus and his mentor Markus Unterhofer.






Lucian, you have joined the Südstern Campus – what does Campus mean to you and what was your experience so far?

I see the Südstern Campus as a place where students can meet peers and experienced professionals with a similar cultural background. It is a good place to connect to new people and to build a network. I got to know a lot of different students and professionals, and like the friendly environment at Südstern. In the near future, I would like to join some of the Südstern events.


How did you hear about Südstern?

I believe I read an article about it on www.stol.it.


You have recently finished your Bsc in International Economics, Management and Finance at Bocconi in Milan and have just started working for Credit Suisse in Zurich. What is your role and what are your first impressions?

I joined Credit Suisse in June for an 18 months Graduate Training Program which also offers the possibility to obtain a permanent contract once completed. The program is called “Career Starter” and offers two placements in different divisions.

For my first placement I have joined the Private Banking Division in the Direct Access Client (“DAC”) Product Management team. Direct Access clients are premium clients who want to place their orders directly on the trading floors without the help of Relationship Mangers and / or Investment Consultants.

In DAC, we assist Relationship Managers to onboard clients as well as to offboard them. I organize welcome calls with the managers, the clients and our teams and help them to provide clients with customized assistance as well as making sure that they receive publications relevant to them.

I analyze client related data for certain projects and, as our clients are very international and reside in every part of the world, I also deal with legal aspects of a potential transaction in their jurisdictions. At Credit Suisse, part of the Training Program is also dedicated to studies i.e. intensive web-based trainings, seminars and exams.


How did you go about searching for and how did you find the job? Did your university assist you? How has your mentor been able to support you during the process? 

My mentor, Markus Unterhofer, was a great help to me! He helped me to better understand the fact sheets for open roles and introduced me to some of his colleagues from other banks, which allowed me get a feel for the industry and the various possibilities.

Regarding the job search itself, I started looking for information on all kind of financial institutions, and based on my interests, firm-culture and the opportunities found on the websites I created a list of "targets". My university (Bocconi) offers a good career website, which I used to obtain information and find out more about potential opportunities.

While researching, I also talked to a lot of different people and tried to build a network. My Südstern mentor put me in touch with different people, and helped me to get a good overview of different financial institutions, as well as of specific divisions. In addition, Bocconi organizes a lot of job-fairs which I attended to gather additional information and more importantly to get to know people.

The networking was really important for me, not just to receive feedback on my CV, but also to get first hand information from people who are working or have worked at the various institutions regarding firm-culture and possibilities within a certain institution. This helped me to narrow my targets down to a hand full of institutions, which I could identify myself with.

Once decided which companies I would take into consideration, I applied for about 15 positions I was interested in, and was interviewed for a couple of roles. Markus helped me with the preparation of my interviews and advised me on my choices and possibilities.

In the end I found a perfect match with Credit Suisse and decided to accept their offer.


How was the selection process structured?

For most positions, I found the decision making to be based on a structured process consisting of a number of rounds.

After the first screening and a short phone call with the assigned Human Resources manager, I was invited to a first-round phone interview which was mainly aimed at finding out whether there was interest from both sides and a possible match of expectations.

Following this first interview, there was a second-round interview which, depending on the position, was either a conference call at a local office, a phone call or a live interview.

After that, there was a final round interview, with the team members – in the case of my application for the Graduate Training Program with Credit Suisse this took place in Zurich.


What did you find most challenging and what did you feel most comfortable with during the interview process? How did you prepare?

The evaluation of all the data I accumulated on the different financial institutions was quite challenging as I wanted to understand every detail in order to ensure that in the end I would be happy with my choices. Fortunately I got to know really great people, who helped me to understand the culture, the different roles and to prepare for my interviews.

When it was time for the interviews I prepared my story line, studied my notes on the role, the culture and the firm, and discussed everything with my contacts.

I felt comfortable during my interview processes, since I had prepared questions and notes, and hence, was able to show real interest. The small talk with the interviewers helped me to understand better how my possible future peers really would be.


Prior to obtaining your degree from Bocconi you have also spent a term abroad in Mexico. What impact did that experience have on you? Would you recommend it? 

My semester abroad, was one of the best experiences I have made so far. It helped me a lot to understand the Latin American culture and its people better.

In addition, I got to know a lot of different people from all over the world, and made many new friends.

I definitively recommend a term abroad and in particular my university in Mexico; the ITESM University does not only offer excellent education but also many social events and trips for its students.


 

[Lucian in Real de Catorce during his term abroad]


Have you considered working in Latam? 

Yes, I do indeed. Given the fact, that it is a fast-growing market and due to my background – my father is originally from Peru – and the great experiences made during my exchange, it would be really interesting for me to work there one day.


What is your plan for the near future? 

I would like to start my career successfully in the financial industry, and maybe obtain some industry relevant certificates such as for example a CAIA or CFA.

Furthermore, if and when possible, I would like to do a MBA.


Thank you for the interview and good luck for your promising future ☺

Thank you to your mentor Markus.


Interview: Doris Salzburger