Creating Leaders, One Graduate at a Time

Creating Leaders, One Graduate at a Time
Joanne Meyer, Head of Talent at The Prescient Group

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, graduate unemployment increased by 2,3 percentage points to 11,8% in Q1:2024 compared to 9,6% in Q4:2023. Addressing this escalating issue requires innovative solutions, and the Prescient Group is taking charge with its Prescient Graduate Programme, designed to create sustainable jobs and develop future leaders.

Initiated in 2018, the Prescient Graduate Programme aims to provide meaningful employment opportunities and sustainable careers for young professionals. Joanne Meyer, Head of Talent at The Prescient Group, emphasises that this initiative is not just a box-ticking exercise. “We are committed to creating genuine career paths for young people entering the workforce,” she explains.

Since its inception, the programme has welcomed 21 graduates, with an annual intake of 3-4 participants. Although the numbers may appear modest, the impact on the graduates and their families has been substantial. “We have successfully established long-term employment relationships with several of our graduates, some of whom are now leaders in their respective fields,” Meyer notes.

The programme’s success can be attributed to its comprehensive approach. Graduates work closely with industry leaders in investment management, fund administration, and stockbroking, gaining a holistic understanding of the financial services value chain. This exposure is further enhanced by flexible rotations through various departments and business units, allowing graduates to identify and develop their unique skills and areas of interest.

Meyer continues, “We recognise that great talent can work anywhere, so we strive to create an environment where people choose to work with us. Whether building a graduate programme or appointing a senior executive, ensuring a good cultural fit is crucial.”

Graduates of the programme often express surprise at the open-plan working environment, where leadership teams are readily accessible. “As a graduate, you’re in a space with no layers between you and the technical experts and senior leadership teams,” Meyer explains. “This culture of collaboration, immediate feedback, and knowledge transfer is a cornerstone of our programme.”

The success stories of graduates like Sajjaad Ahmed and Max Chin illustrate the programme’s impact. Sajjaad, who joined in 2020, transitioned to a permanent Quantitative Analyst position within a year and was promoted to Portfolio Manager in just four years. He credits the programme’s structure and opportunities for his rapid career development. “The comprehensive exposure to various facets of financial services allowed me to discover my strengths and interests,” he says.

“When you’re fresh out of university, you often don’t know exactly what you want to specialise in,” Sajjaad explains. “The graduate programme offers the freedom to explore different areas, which is crucial in finding your best fit and also understanding how the various pieces of the industry fit together.”

Max Chin, another 2020 cohort graduate, gained valuable experience in fund services and stockbroking before becoming a Fixed Income Trader with the award-winning bonds team at Prescient Securities. He emphasises the importance of passion, communication skills, and open-mindedness in thriving in the financial industry. “The programme’s breadth of experience was crucial for finding where I fit best and what I enjoy most,” Max explains.

One of the standout features of Prescient, according to Max, is the company’s culture. “There is a lot of opportunity here. If you perform well, you are rewarded. The open-door policy and flat structure mean you can approach anyone, including senior team members, for guidance and support. The Talent team drives a culture of inclusivity and continuous learning, making it a great environment to grow and succeed.”

According to Meyer, many of graduates have secured permanent positions within the Group in fields such as investment operations, data science, equity research, trading, quantitative research, and fund administration. “Others have built successful careers at prominent financial services providers, leveraging the foundation of their learnings at Prescient.”

Reflecting on the programme’s success, Meyer highlights two key factors: meaningful work and mentorship. “We were adamant about providing substantial work rather than administrative tasks. Graduates are expected to take responsibility early on,” she says.

“Mentorship from leaders within the business, coupled with a true belief in their potential, helps talented youth navigate rapid career development.”

Meyer concludes with advice for building a successful graduate programme: “In a world where top talent can be employed anywhere, what are you doing to create an environment where people choose to work with you?”