Thursday, 14 February 2013

So, I noticed some major differences between my new environment and the hell -hole I used to work in before. In this normal job vs investment banking count - it seems the former is in the lead by far in terms of general office aesthetics, decor, environment etc for e.g. -

  • Flowers on people's desk vs morbid " tombstones" - I never noticed how barren and devoid of personal items were desks in investment banking. Ofcourse that could be a function of people not having personal lives. At the most - you would find desks with lots of vitamin supplements to compensate for the lack of fresh air and sleep, in an endeavor to infuse some energy in those mind-numbed zombies. Another frequently seen item are those silly deal tombstones that bankers like to proudly display on their desks - as a testament of how much of their time was spent destroying value. 
  • Free treats in office vs crappy coffee or worse redbull - I walk around my office and invariably, there is free food lying around . On Valentine's day - someone actually took the trouble of baking heart shaped brownies and left it on a table for people to snack on. Most of the time - there will be fresh fruit or chocolate - apparently its all part of the culture of giving and receiving. Ya right - try teaching that lesson to the IB guys - " giving people a hard time" and " receiving useless mark-ups and comments" are the only culture they  know. 
  • People take holidays for Valentine's day vs people never getting to take their holidays - Taking a holiday in investment banking was as predictable as winning the lottery - you'd probably never win it. Here, on the other hand - people take holidays for Valentine's day, for birthday's, for maternity wear shopping, for their Sky engineer coming over- EVERY reason is legit. In investment banking, even if someone died, they'd probably ask you if it is a blood relation and how close. 
  • Brightly colored chairs vs depressingly dull decor - This office has beautiful break-out areas with funky, multi-colored furniture (with an emphasis on red) to host team meetings and informal chats. The idea is that relaxed employees make for happy, productive employees. On the other hand, I dont know if the interior designer who designed investment banking floors was told to remind employees of a morgue or worse still - brainwash employees into believing the only color they ll ever see is on their powerpoint slides. 
  • Women vs err... none at all - Thats all you see - beautiful, ugly, thin, fat - but women of all shapes and sizes. For the last 5 years - having worked in only all - male environments - to suddenly see an explosion of women was discomforting at first. But once you get used to it, u realise an adverse sex-ratio breeds this unhealthy testosterone filled culture where soon women start to ape men. All much too evidenced by the strange species of female MD's that roam investment banks. 
  • People smiling and laughing vs grim, stressed faces - It was all too common to slink into your desk at 10 am in the morning and scowl till lunch in IB. As the day progresses, your mood would also invariably get worse, where ultimately you start to overlook niceties such as saying good-morning or good nights. Of course when you leave at 2 am, you wish everyone else has a frigging terrible night and who the hell cares about their morning anyway. 
  • A boss who acknowledges you vs a complete a$$h%&  - This was HUUGEE for me. The fact that my boss actually takes time to talk to me, invest time with me and is keen on mentoring me was a first. I came from a place where my last boss would hardly every look at me and one of the kindest things he ever said to me was that it was " reckless " of me to get the flu!! I wanted to tell my new boss - " You had me at Hello ... " :) 
  • A special mention to this particular practise of a team where I previously worked was they had a huge board on which they stuck pictures of people in their most fatigued state. So, pictures of people completely drained, exhausted, collapsed on their desk were regularly clicked by the team VP's as a " joke" !! It was almost like a Wall of Shame to perversely motivate other people to work harder else they would end up there - extrinsic motivation at its best.... 
I am sure, like most relationships - when the " honeymoon" phase is over and you start to notice the zits on your partner's face - I will also start to notice the chinks in my currently perfect job as time passes by. But so far - I appreciate the small stuff ......

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Today I am writing the much awaited expose on s*x, lies and lust in investment banking after being asked repeatedly by people to shed some insight into the debauchery that takes places within those not so hallowed halls. Now, when you obviously spend so much time at work - at any job, mutual attraction between sexes cannot be avoided (sometime even between same sexes but who is judging...). Also, infidelity and cheating are rampant in any workplace so why single out investment banking? Well, I can speak about my experiences in the bank and have broadly type-cast the different kinds of men who cheat and ones I encountered in the M&A world. Then again as I switch careers - I keep an open mind, I am sure I wont be disappointed... .

  • The Prolific Cheater - This guy cheats with absolutely no remorse and will cheat repeatedly simply because he cannot help it. The excuses will range from long - distance girl-friend,  attractive blonde at work, long working hours, bad London weather and general frustrations of life provide him enough of a reason to spread his wings out of his fairly committed relationship and seek entertainment outside of that. Of course, they may be perfectly satisfied in their current relationship but hey, variety is the spice of life and who said human beings were supposed to be monogamous anyway. The only inconvenience to their lives would be to be caught with their pants down - so hence, even though they are guilt-free, they take careful steps to cover their tracks and the lies to their spouses are virtually fool-proof where they probably take time to nurture their holier-than-thou bf/husband image. 

  • The Creepy, Middle-Aged Cheater - This one will have a very established and settled family life - wife, kids - perhaps even 4 kids but will still be maintaining a mistress on the side - preferably much younger and hopefully prettier than his current partner. There is never any intention to leave this comfortable set-up for him so the other woman at an early stage is made to understand that " Three is not a crowd ". Here, unlike the above situation - there may be some declarations of love but this is hardly a situation where mutual respect is the order of the day. In some cases - the wife or the partner may actually know about the affair but chooses to either accept it with utter resignation or doesnt care as long as the money keeps rolling in. 

  • The Earnest Cheater - Oh, this one will break your heart. He is like the hero of an Emily Bronte novel - straight out of Wuthering Heights with all the drama that you can think of. He will win you over with stories of a love-less marriage or relationship, bad-tempered raging shrew of a wife where the lack of physical and emotional intimacy drive him to seek solace elsewhere. Of course - he is not the one to cheat and how could he? He believes that his circumstances have driven him to a point where the growing distance with his partner make his current relationship unbearable. BAAM - thats the trap !! Underneath the nice guy, cheerful exterior hides a cowardly, pathetic excuse of a man. Questions on why he remains committed or in some cases why they got married a short time ago are met with a blank, somewhat confused look before undying declarations of love and pure passion are made to you. Ofcourse, when further questioned about " isnt it just better to split up and put yourselves out of this misery"  suddenly their wives/gf;s will contract some terrible life-threatening illness which demands that they stay close to them for comfort and support and only AFTER that - will he pursue a split. Finally, his inadequacies, inconsistencies and indecision will leave you so dry that even if he is gaming you, you dont know who to feel bad for anymore - the victim or the cheater. If he has a bad marriage - he has issues but worse, if he made all this up - then good lord - he has even bigger issues. 

  • The Hesitant Cheater - This one has mentally cheated with you already about a million times but lacks the courage to see it through. So he will test the waters like a child dipping a toe into the sea - as soon as the tides turn, he will run back and look with ever growing desire. Even though guilt could be a mild consideration - the hesitation is mostly due to lack of confidence. Once he overcomes this initial starting trouble - he can easily fall into any of the categories described above. 
So while this list is not exhaustive - it is a start. Recently, I watched a documentary on Narcisstic Personality disorders and I spotted traits that most of my ex-colleagues exhibit in abundant quantities. One of the 9 traits which make a person a certified nut-job was Lack of Empathy and Remorse - where varying degrees of this determine the level of narcissism in a person. Looking at the above list - aside from the many other major character flaws (lack of integrity, honesty, self-lessness etc) a growing lack of senstivity,guilt and remorse is much too evident. 

I come from the school of thought where the simple pursuit of happiness was the end goal and the purpose of life is to make it less complicated and not more - guess, thats not true for everyone.