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From Investment Bank to Start-up: Life At SETL

Zaki Bano-Burns, Subject Matter Expert at SETL
11/12/2019

I recently left an investment bank after seven years and have joined SETL – an exciting startup in the technology space. It’s been a refreshing move and highlights a number of interesting differences between the two environments.

At the investment bank I was working alone in London, remote from the US based team. At SETL, I am now right in the thick of the action with all of my peers in close proximity. At a big bank you can be just a spot in the org chart, whereas now I am talking to the CEO one minute, a scrum master the next and business users the next. Being right in the middle of a driven, energetic team is breathtaking. I am sure this will accelerate the assimilation of ideas and knowledge from and to those around me that simply can’t happen when working in isolation.

The smaller scale of SETL brings a closeness and affinity that it is, understandably, impossible to achieve with a huge multinational. That manifests itself in being not just agile but nimble too. I could plan my days and weeks against monthly and quarterly strategies at the bank. At SETL, the direction of my day can (and frequently does) change tack in response to what is most important right now. I’m really enjoying having short term objectives that I can influence today to help us reach our longer term goals.

The team around me are infectiously talented and motivated. They are creative and knowledgeable. It’s a buzzy atmosphere with spontaneous interactions to keep the vibe going.

In amongst this energy there are, of course, challenges.

Starting a new position does bring out the imposter syndrome we all have but seldom recognise. Here’s the thing; it’s inevitable that when you become the new member of a team you probably don’t know everything they do. However – equally as important – you do know things they don’t.

We are all made up of three elements;

· our approach (attitude and execution)

· our skills (talents and capabilities) and

· our knowledge (experience and facts)

If you feel you are an imposter be aware that your approach, skills and knowledge are unique to you and that imposter syndrome exists on both sides. It’s natural and a sign that you will both learn and impart knowledge.

Specifically for me, I’ve come from a role managing projects to integrate systems into processes. Now I am bringing those experiences into a more technical environment where I am helping SETL design and build new systems. My immediate challenges are getting to grips with blockchain (which is new to me) and building a deeper knowledge of the SETL products and systems. So whilst I have much to learn, I also have much to bring.

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