Lekshman Ramesh-VP at Morgan Stanley

  1. A bit about yourself

I graduated as a Mechanical engineer from IIT Madras in the year 2012 and I got placed in Citibank as an analyst from the campus placements. After working there for five years in three different roles, I left Citibank for Credit Suisse and went on to become a Senior Risk Modeler there. Recently, I got the offer to become a Vice President at Morgan Stanley, and I have been working there ever since.

  1. How was your insti life, had you taken PORs and do you think they are important for a student? 

I can proudly say that the five years in insti were the best days of my life and hostel life is something I genuinely miss. Since I loved the Wolf game, I was one of the students who founded the Wolf Club (has become the Informals Club now). I don’t think they are a necessity, which is how many students think about it. They can help network and learn some skills like teamwork and leadership, but join a POR only if you enjoy it.

  1. Right after your graduation, here at IITM, you started working with CitiBank as an analyst. What was your motivation behind joining Citibank? We would love to know about how your experience was for the initial few months and what was expected of you.

I loved solving problems and I prepared for many if not all the profiles that visited the campus. At CitiGroup, I had really helpful managers and I started enjoying the work which was allotted to me, which were essentially small tasks of a larger project. I saw the scope in the projects we were working on and how analytics can deliver meaningful insights if appropriately harnessed. 

  1. You worked your way from being an analyst to becoming a Data Science manager in the few years at CitiBank. How was the transition like and how different were your roles? How difficult is it to switch between roles?

Getting promoted to a senior role is not difficult, it just requires commitment and you should enjoy the work you are doing. The opportunity will come to you, no need to think about it, stay focused and motivated. The transition to a more senior role was very smooth and obviously, responsibilities will increase when you get the senior role! It was not complicated at all, though!

  1. You also cleared the FRM examinations while working at Citibank. How was your experience in preparation for FRM?

As you progress more in your career in Investment banking, you will have to have some financial knowledge and therefore I decided to try giving one of the exams, FRM. I didn’t particularly appreciate studying for FRM as a whole, because it was very different from the work I loved doing. Still, I realised the importance of FRM and the knowledge it gave when I landed my next job at Credit Suisse. 

  1. According to you, are exams like FRM or CFA beneficial? When and why should one decide to attempt one of these?

While hiring, FRM/ CFA exams are not the basis with which we select students. We usually look for coding/ analytics experience and the ability to solve logical problems. However, such exams can definitely be an added advantage when sitting for campus placements. The importance of financial knowledge increases as your career in IB progresses and you might have to prepare for these examinations.

  1. Why did you opt to leave Citibank and how was your transition from working in CitiBank to working in Credit Suisse?

The main reason for the change was career progression. Apart from a more senior role than at Citibank, Credit Suisse also gave me a position which gave me exposure to IB and Risk Analytics.

  1. You are now working with Morgan Stanley as a Vice President. What was the process like, and how is it going so far?

The process was really smooth, I would say. Since I worked in a similar bank before, the work ethics and the functioning were pretty much the same. So, it was never a burden. 

  1. Exit Opportunities

I have not thought about exit opportunities yet, but I plan to progress in my career and let’s see what options I get. 

  1. What advice would you give to the final year students, who will be sitting for placements very soon? Are Banks/ the financial sector a safe place amidst this pandemic?

The financial sector is a much safer sector to be in concerning the uncertainties in the other sectors since people will always rely on lending money and investments. The pandemic is a very different scenario than the 2008 financial crisis, where the core of the crisis was the banking sector, but I don’t think you need to worry right now. One advice I would like to give the students would be to not stuff their CVs with irrelevant or unnecessary information/ details which you are not very confident about. Instead, only focus on your vital areas and don’t hesitate if your Resume is two lines short.

  1. What advice would you give to the non-final year students and what are your plans for the future?

Enjoy your insti life; these days will never come back!

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