In this Interview, Samia Sqalli talks about her attraction to consulting, her typical day and tipps for your career at DMBC.
Can you give us some background about your education and work experience?
I grew up in Morocco, then moved to Paris for my BSc in Finance, after which I spent 6 months in New York for an internship in a health care start-up. Thereafter, I took a gap year from my studies to complete two 6-month internships in Consulting. The first was with Boston Consulting Group where I focused on conducting African market studies, typically to assess new market entry opportunities for North African companies. For the second internship I joined Monitor Deloitte where I worked on a variety of due diligence projects in Francophone markets. I completed my MSc in Management at Cass Business School in London and shortly after joined DBMC as an Analyst in the London office.
Beyond this, I was able to participate in a volunteering programme at Cass for which I spent 2 months in the city of Helsinki helping start-ups with developing strategies for business development and growth.
What attracts you to Consulting?
The challenging environment and the aspect of problem solving really excites me. We are constantly trying to identify better, more suitable solutions that aren’t just conceptually good but that can also be implemented given the circumstances in the bank. What I like at DBMC is that we don’t just try to find ‘nice looking’ solutions that are going to be accepted and impress people. The solutions we seek need to match the problem, add value to the bank, and be actually feasible. In comparison to my experience with external consulting groups, we pay more attention to the whole package – both looking for the right solution and how can it be implemented.
Have you found any other differences between external and internal consulting?
Speaking from my experience, with internal consulting there is much more exposure to senior stakeholders, clients, and managers, this is especially important at more junior levels. I found that within external consulting, it is usually the Project Manager or Partner that interacts with the clients because there is a lot more pressure to present a polished image and sell the brand. The juniors would thus gain less exposure to clients and focus more on delivering the work, which of course is still important and valuable. In comparison, as a DBMC analyst, I have daily interactions with senior members which gives me the feeling of being really involved with the critical aspects of the problem which is very fulfilling.
At first, I found the environment very challenging, however, it provides a steep learning curve to develop both your analytical and conceptual knowledge and your personal and interpersonal skillsets. Further it is a great setting to grow because the DBMC team is very supportive and always willing to help and guide you.
What does your typical day at work look like?
While my days are quite varied, the most typical part would be arriving early morning and spending some time checking and responding to emails. Then as a project team we would check the schedule for the day and plan the upcoming work before we spread out work on deliverables, for example analysing data and creating aggregate results. Throughout the day I have a couple of client meetings, either in person or through conference calls, and oftentimes a project team meeting for brainstorming and problem solving. Additionally, there are usually frequent queries coming through from clients that need to be addressed on short notice, which you need to adapt to and it keeps things fast paced.
Would you recommend someone start off their career in DBMC?
Yes – DBMC is a really great place to learn the work of a consultant. It provides loads of exposure to senior stakeholders from which you can learn a lot and you develop deep knowledge of the workings of a bank and really any large corporation. The steep learning curve quickly encourages you to be self-sufficient and confident in your skillset. Analysts also complete a joint training in Frankfurt which is fantastic!
What advice would you give analysts starting out?
Be confident from day one and be proactive in developing relationships with your clients. These relationships can help you on other projects and in your personal development. They also grant you a more comprehensive view of the bank. Always be motivated and show willingness to progress, even when there are parts of the work that don’t necessarily excite you. There is always an opportunity to learn and this attitude encourages your team to trust you with more responsibility and more exciting tasks. Also, quickly identify your weaknesses so you can actively work on them as soon as possible and reach out to members of the team. They will happily help and support you to quickly progress.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
I like swimming, outdoors preferably, and I’m interested in French politics and current affairs, so I watch French news, documentaries, and debates. I also enjoy relaxing with friends and socialising over a few cocktails. Since I am a very avid traveler, I try to get away every few weeks, even if it is just for a weekend.
What’s the culture within DBMC?
The culture and team are great. In French we say the team are very ‘Bienvenue’, they are very welcoming, supportive, and take a genuine interest in your life outside of work. They will always make time to help you with your development and they really care about the team as a whole becoming better and more effective.
The social aspect is also great, we often have team events which are a lot of fun. For example, we have had Go-Karting and Mini-Golf events, oftentimes after work we get drinks together, and generally everyone has a great sense of humor. Beyond the London office, I have also made friends with colleagues in New York and Frankfurt, either through working together on projects or through joint trainings.