A graduate’s first step into the corporate world can be their most significant. Fresh from university, graduates stand to gain tremendously from the training and mentoring that an industry-leading employer offers. Getting the first couple of years just right can be the key to unlocking the path talented graduates can follow to become the leaders of the future.
This year, Operis is sponsoring the new Future Leader of the Year award at the Partnership Bulletin Awards. In light of our sponsorship we thought it worth offering a closer look at how, here at Operis, we develop new graduates into industry professionals in as little as 12 months.
Graduate life at Operis: two journeys
For this article we interviewed two Operis employees who joined as graduates. Holly Kirton started at the Operis office in London in August 2017 and rapidly moved to a Consultant position, playing a key role in the auditing of project finance models. We also talked to Austin Melville who joined the Toronto office of Operis in June 2017. Austin is now a Senior Consultant at Operis and is closely involved in large-scale advisory deals across North America and beyond.
According to Holly, Operis exceeded her initial expectations by involving her in real projects from the start. Holly says that the work was extremely hard and challenging at the outset, but that the supportive, collaborative environment at Operis helped her effectively deal with the high levels of responsibility she enjoyed early in her journey at Operis.
A jump-start thanks to rigorous training
Rapid training is key to getting new starts involved in real projects as soon as possible. Austin says he joined Operis in part because of the company’s reputation for training graduates. For Austin, who graduated in a field outside of finance, the industry-leading internal courses run by Operis was a major draw.
Indeed, new graduates at Operis benefit from the same financial modelling training courses sought after by top financial professionals. In addition to access to Operis’ formal training courses, graduates also enjoy sponsorship for the industry-standard CFA exams, alongside support for a range of other training courses and materials on an as-needed basis. Both Holly and Austin attended CFA courses and passed stages of the CFA exam.
The Operis mentorship scheme
As valuable as classroom training is, applying formally learned knowledge to complex project finance schemes can be challenging and here mentorship can make a major difference. Both Austin and Holly praised the mentoring scheme at Operis: new graduates are immediately assigned a mentor when they join Operis.
For a period of about a year fresh graduates draw strongly on the support of their mentor, throughout day to day tasks. Mentors also advise new graduates on their career paths and future career opportunities at Operis.
Yet graduates are quickly expected to prove their mettle by turning into mentors for other new starters. Holly says that, around a year into her role at Operis, she was expected to start transferring knowledge to a mentee and found that doing so really solidified what she learned at Operis through her own year in training.
Responsibility in action
The mix of intensive training and mentoring allows Operis to rapidly assign fresh graduates to work on client projects. Holly says she started working on a variety of exciting projects within her first month and found working on the project finance model for the Sharqiyah desalination plant in Oman particularly interesting. More recently, Holly moved from model auditing to building models as she contributed to project finance models for an offshore wind project and an airport in Cyprus.
Like Holly, Austin quickly started working on live projects, advisory deals in his case. He says he initially started taking care of smaller details, but over a period of a year moved to become more closely involved with advisory work by liaising directly with clients and taking more of a lead on projects.
Austin particularly enjoyed the challenges presented by the award-winning Automated People Mover project at Los Angeles airport in the USA, while citing the uniquely structured Réseau Express Métropolitain project in Montreal, Canada, as another highlight of his career so far.
Rapid progress at Operis
Clearly, graduates starting at Operis can expect fast personal growth. Both Holly and Austin have moved from Analyst roles to Consultant roles within about a year. Austin, who has been at Operis the longest, was recently promoted to Senior Consultant. But what does Operis do differently that ensures new graduates are promoted so quickly?
Austin says that Operis exceeded his expectations thanks to his early-stage involvement in advisory deals which helped him rapidly learn the ropes. By working on advisory deals in a meaningful capacity so early in his career Austin says he can now aspire to running his own advisory deals, even though he joined Operis just two years ago.
Holly said the fact that the graduate training process at Operis is relatively unregimented is a plus. Instead of a boxing graduates into an inflexible program, Operis gives fresh graduates the training, opportunity and support to naturally find their fit in the complex world of financial services.
Both Holly and Austin were very positive about the supportive atmosphere at Operis. Austin highlighted how senior team members are happy to help graduates even where this help lies outside of that team member’s remit. Holly said that everyone at Operis appears eager to learn and to share knowledge.
A commitment to future leaders
We suggested at the outset that young graduates stand to grow into future business leaders particularly where they have the necessary support early in their career. Operis strongly believes in supporting young financial professionals and this conviction is what motivated us to sponsor the Future Leader of the Year award.
Each of the nominees for the Future Leader of the Year award would have followed their own, unique journeys, supported by teams committed to their careers.
Here at Operis we are proud of young team members such as Austin and Holly and encouraged by what they have achieved through their relatively short tenure within the Operis analyst team. We are confident their future is bright and are excited to see how Holly and Austin progress in the field of project finance.