King’s Pharmacology PhD makes his way in banking

Amir Smailbegovic was a speaker at last week’s SSPP careers panel.  He completed his PhD at King’s a few years back and told the assembled students about his life in banking.

What happened after you finished your PhD?

Amir worked on a post-doc for a while after his PhD but found that he wasn’t doing enough research but instead was spending a lot of time completing grant applications.  At the same time a group of his peers were having a good life in the City and that seemed very attractive!  He had done a year working for the World Bank in the US prior to his MSc/PhD and knew that he enjoyed that kind of world.  He joined a Japanese bank as a trader and moved later to Daiwa in Hong Kong to set up a new trading desk.  After a while, he decided for personal reasons to return to London.

What do you do now?

He works for RBS, as chief operating officer of a section of the bank.  He is directly responsible for about twelve people and indirectly manages about 400.  He realised that, rather than enjoying the trading side of the bank, his strengths lay in working with people and so has been able to use those skills in his new job.  He doesn’t particularly use his ‘Dr’ title!

Why did you not stay in academia?

Partly because of the reasons outlined above, that there was no longer enough research in his role.  Partly too a desire to use the analytical skills he had gained, in a different context.

What might you go on to do after this current role?

Amir stated that it would be possible to move to a similar role but in a different sector, for example pharmaceuticals.  Equally, there would be other roles within the bank that might suit him.

How does one get into banking at the moment and what else can you do in banking?

Getting a job in banking is harder than usual, at present, because there are plenty of bankers who have been let go from banks, all competing with graduates for those junior roles.  Remember that only 5-10% of bankers actually do the trading; the rest of the companies are the back office roles of research, operations, sales, HR, training, marketing and so on.  Some banks have specific PhD routes, for particular quant roles.  Amir himself has never actually applied for a job within the banks he has worked for – he has always been headhunted by a recruitment consultant. 

Like the sound of this?  Come on the City Course!  (see previous posts)


Consulting job idea

**This information is over two years old but is kept for information and inspiration**


Came across a firm called CHP Consulting – they do IT consulting in the finance industry. They have a graduate scheme and on their website they have 2 case studies: one is a lady who did an engineering PhD at UCL, the other is  a King’s Music graduate. Interesting reading if you are casting around for job ideas – or have set your heart on management consulting.

Assessment Centres

Students considering moving in to the corporate should take advantage of assessment Centre week next week. There is a series of events run by a ranges of tope employers. Details and sign-ups ( where advised) are on the Careers service web site.

Here is the timetable and list of companies:

Monday 25 January

How to…Succeed at Assessment Centres
13:00 Room: K0.18, Strand Campus
Group Exercise (BNP Paribas)
13:00 Room: FWB 1.11, Waterloo Campus
Limited places: Sign up required
Assessment Centres overview (IBM)
17:30 Room: S-1.06, Strand Campus

Tuesday 26 January

Group Exercise (IBM)
13:00 Room: K0.18, Strand Campus
Excelling at interviews (Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP)
13:00 Room: FWB 1.11, Waterloo Campus
Presentation Skills (Barclays Capital)
17:30 Room: FWB 2.40, Waterloo Campus

Wednesday 27 January

Group Exercise (Sainsbury’s)
13:00 Room: GFSB1, Strand Campus
Psychometric Testing & Verbal Reasoning (Weil, Gotshal & Manges)
13:00 Room: FWB 1.11, Waterloo Campus

Thursday 28 January

Group Exercise (KPMG)
13:00 Room: K1.28, Strand Campus
Limited places: Sign up required
How to approach assessment Centres (TfL)
13:00 Room: FWB 1.10, Waterloo Campus
How to master recruiters selection tests
17:30 Room: C16, Strand Campus

Friday 29 January

Pulling it all together (PwC)
12:30 to 14:30 Room: GFSB 3, Strand Campus
Please sign up for this
Mock assessment centre (Accenture)
12:00 to 15:00 Room: FWB 1.71, Waterloo Campus
Limited places: Sign up required

Simcorp Consultancy talk reminder

Harald Nieber received his doctorate from KCL in October 2008 is now a consultant  with SimCorp

SimCorp develops and markets an investment management system, SimCorp Dimension, for the asset management industry, insurances, and banks.

He writes “Since SimCorp is continuously looking for consultants and developers who have obtained a degree in a quantitative subject, it might be interesting for some of your students to learn more about the chances offered by SimCorp.”

 Well yes it might, so he will be giving a talk about opportunities at Simcorp on

Tuesday 24th November in the Graduate School Training Room, 4.14, Waterloo Bridge Wing, Franklin Wilkins Building. 5 – 6 pm


If you want to listen to Dr Nieber and are considering a job in the business seector after your PhD e-mail me on (unless you have already dones so:


There are some case studies of people working for the organisation on the company website.