Gal Crush of The Week: Shirin

Hey gal, this is me… I’m Shirin, a 22 year-old UNSW graduate, currently working as an investment banking analyst. At University, I studied a Commerce (Finance & Marketing) degree while working part-time jobs which ranged from retail to tutoring to even dabbling in my 8 year old self’s vision of being a news reporter…well kind of – I worked as a News Host for the UNSW Business School’s very own weekly video news.

If I were to describe myself in three words… Motivated, cheerful, dreamer.

I always blow my pay-check on… Too many things! Some key ones are –

  1. Food: I live for brunches and rooftop bars/eateries (I may be guilty of having an ever-increasing list of 50+ ranked food places to get through in this year alone so if you’re ever in need of last minute recommendations, you know who to ask)
  2. Activewear: #fitspo
  3. Home Décor: Seriously, I should not be allowed into a Zara Home store – pay-check damage is inevitable

I’m Currently… Working as a M&A Analyst.

I got into it because… I wanted to do something that was challenging, with high impact. I also wanted to do something that played to my strengths, while providing opportunities to keep learning and build a highly adaptable and rigorous skillset.

I’ve always been passionate about business and figured finance is core to a lot of business decisions. I was lucky to have some really great Uni tutors who sparked the interest in banking. Talking to more senior people that had been in the industry for a long time, both inspired me and helped to confirm that banking could provide the rewarding career I was after. Hearing about experiences that helped to shape industries through various deals and turn around struggling companies was what got me really excited.

And p.s Shirin loves exploring!

What I love about it…

  1. Scope & Impact: I love that it’s a dynamic industry which requires a global/macro perspective. The work has a visible industry/economy-wide impact since it could range from a multi-billion dollar IPO to cross-border transactions
  2. Personal Development: The job allows me to learn very rapidly; during my summer internship I grew both professionally and personally more than ever before. Right now, I’m counting down days to training in New York (read: 90% partying & adventure. Every first year’s highlight) with global peers next month!
  3. Work Style: The job suits my work style as I enjoy working in a close-knit, supportive team with other motivated people

What I don’t love about it …

  1. The inevitable grunt work as a first year analyst (which my Director tells me has become a lot better with technology in this day, so I’m hoping robots for formatting and data-mining are not too far away!)
  2. Longer hours and some weekend work can make it tricky to plan your life and you may have to be that annoying person that has to reschedule events. Also, for someone like me who is very much a morning person rising up at 5am for most of my life, adjusting to new hours was a bit of a shock to say the least
  3. Not everything you work on is used immediately and things can be shelved for the future

What I’ve learned from the experience… Early on, there is a strong focus on hard skills (i.e. valuation, becoming totally nerdy over excel, developing impeccable attention to detail because bankers notice everything like a sixth sense). As a junior, it can be easy to get bogged down in details but I realised that it was when I started taking a step back and trying to understand how it all fits into the bigger picture that work got more interesting.

I’ve learnt a lot by simply observing people as well such as sales skills which are fundamental to the job. It sounds crazy, but when you think about it, the experience is really honing a bunch of life skills – self-discipline, efficiency, resilience and the list goes on!

My advice to anyone pursuing this pathway is… Do a lot of research; ask questions that get information beyond what you get through firms’ marketing. Not all firms are structured the same. For example, I wanted to work at a smaller Bulge Bracket so that I could have more responsibility as a junior while having global opportunities.

I personally believe culture is a really important influence on the experience and shouldn’t be underestimated since you will spend a lot of time at work. On that note, I got started through a women in banking scholarship program and I would highly encourage you to apply to firms that have initiatives that appeal to your values and interests.

I’m passionate about…  Life! I want to live life to the fullest with no regrets. I have a ridiculously long bucket list. I try to find time to tick off at least one item every week whether it is trying a new national park for hiking, reading a good book or doing random crowdsourcing challenges. I get bored easily so like keeping busy and trying new things!

Most people don’t know this about me, but … I’ve always been quite creative but I really got into painting after visiting an exhibition by a favourite painter of mine where I came to the sad conclusion that I couldn’t afford any of the works. The logical solution was to learn how to paint myself so that’s what I have been doing since then largely thanks to my good friends Google and Youtube (my mum was relieved that I had chosen a ‘safer’ hobby compared to my earlier days of hip-hop & break dance).

P.s In 5 years time I’ll be… Working through that bucket list! 🙂

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