David Slattery

MSc Political Science and Political Economy, 2011
High Yield Capital Markets Analyst, Societe Generale

Career so far

High Yield Capital Markets Analyst, Societe Generale (2011)

How did you choose your career?

LSE students have many available career options, including academia, consultancy, think tanks, national politics, Civil Service and diplomacy, as well as finance. The decision to go into banking was therefore not one that I took lightly. My decision was based on a combination of the training and learning opportunities that such a career would provide as well as the high calibre of students that entered the industry and the desire to prove to myself that I could emulate their achievements.

Why did you choose your current employer?

I chose my firm based on their strength in the capital markets business, in which they are one of the strongest banks in Europe. It’s important to do the research into what a bank specialises in and this is one of Societe Generale’s strongest specialities.

What did LSE teach you that you have been able to put into practice?

LSE is perhaps the most international university in the world and, in an organisation such as mine, you cannot survive with an insular focus. Internationalism is a trend that will increase in the future and there’s no better introduction to this world than LSE.

Has LSE given you special or different skills?

LSE teaches its students to consider problems in a thoughtful, disciplined and consolidated manner, which is essential when you are confronted with a previously unencountered situation. No degree can cover every circumstance but a top university provides the framework to consider problems in a way that delivers a constructive analysis. This is what LSE does.

What’s your current role and what are you expected to achieve?

I assist in the origination and distribution of high yield bond issues, ranging from a few hundred million to several billion euros. The risks are high and a successful bond issue can be the difference between a company staying afloat or going bankrupt so proper execution of deals is important and impacts on how companies plan for their future. High yield bonds are becoming increasingly important so I am currently completing a three-month rotation in the Leveraged Finance team at the bank, giving me a more detailed picture and thus enabling me to work more efficiently with that team.

Your most significant achievement?

I have worked on the financing of the $5.5bn acquisition of Polkomtel – a major mobile phone company in Poland – in Europe’s largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis.

Your most challenging task?

Fostering a consistent and effective mindset. Banking is intensive; most people can achieve necessary diligence for short bursts but it’s another matter entirely to maintain it constantly.

The best and worst aspects of the job?

Being a deal-based business, the best and worst aspects of it revolve around the achieving or failure to achieve a place on one. There is scarcely a better feeling than finding that we have been mandated on a particular landmark deal, while consequently the reverse applies equally.

How have you contributed to the success of the organisation?

When pitching for a deal a client may ask follow-up questions. Rather than relying on some circumstantial and second-hand evidence, I take the initiative and conduct the necessary research to determine the answers for myself. This is crucial to being a good analyst.

How do you see your career progressing?

Progression in investment banking is performance-related. Some may progress to the next level after two or three years whereas some may not make it at all. My first goal is to progress after two years and continue at similar speed through the ranks of the business. I may take some professional qualifications such as the CFA to aid me in my progression.

What makes you good at your job?

Motivation – after some time it becomes apparent just who wants it the most and these are the ones who succeed. I have a level of curiosity that leads me to ask questions and build an understanding of the business.

What are the top skills that graduates should develop at LSE to hit the ground running?

Knowledge of finance and industry tools such as Excel and Bloomberg is useful as are foreign language skills. Qualities such as diligence, hard work, curiosity and creativity are important; foster these and they will prepare you well.

Any advice for LSE students wanting a career in your organisation or line of work?

Do your research before applying to the industry and to particular banks. Unfamiliarity betrays the fact that you have not thought sufficiently about the industry and may suggest that you’re entering it for the wrong reasons. Find out which firms specialise in what. Having previous work experience in an investment bank is not essential but such experience is helpful to understand the industry better.