In our time as a company, we’re proud to say we’ve worked with many amazing professionals across a range of roles, nurturing them on their professional journey.
One of our leading lights, we sat down to chat with Gabrielle Sanders, an Enterprise and Operational Risk Analyst who’s enjoyed many great achievements since being with us. We talked about what her industry involves, how to progress and where you should start if you’re looking to move into risk.
Hi Gabrielle, thanks for sitting down to chat with us. Could you go into your background and previous roles before starting at GM&T?
I joined GM&T about four years ago without having any commodities trading experience at all. I previously worked for Deutsche Bank where I was involved with global transaction banking. Prior to that, I went to Law school and studied the LPC with the full intention of becoming a lawyer, but I decided it was time for a bit of a change.
My first role within GM&T was in the Trading Operations team. For me, it was a really good team to start in to understand the full deal lifecycle and to build up my network within GM&T.
For those unfamiliar with the industry, could you give us an overview of your role? What does the day to day involves, and how does it factor into the company’s broader operations?
So operational and enterprise risk sits within the global risk function, and our operational risk team is growing to cover all of our offices as part of the wider group. As a team, we provide the framework, tools, and the infrastructure to help manage risk within our risk appetite. This means we try to assist the teams to reach targets and seek to mitigate any operational risks which could potentially impact those targets. Where possible we monitor these and see where we can help with controls on key performance measures.
What skills and proficiencies do you think you’ve developed and how have these contributed towards you occupying your current position?
One of the most effective things you can do in any role is to try to build your network and build your communication. What I’ve learned through the different functions I have worked in is just how important it is to effectively communicate with people.
Try to ask more questions, try to understand the details and have confidence to do those things. A lot of people worry that they might look foolish or that they don’t know what they’re doing when they ask “why?” or “what does that mean?” but I think if you can’t answer “why?” to a question that somebody asks, then you’re not explaining it well enough.
In your view, how do you think the culture between all the different teams in GM&T compares to other businesses in your sector as well as other businesses you’ve worked with?
I think the culture is really good here. Everybody is enthusiastic and helpful. I’ve never gone up to somebody and asked a question where they’ve said, “I don’t have time for this, or I shouldn’t be answering this”. The fact that everybody wants to help each other is encouraging and I think that’s why people get along so well here.
There is also a lot of learning opportunities where we can socialise and go on different development courses. At GM&T, there is not only a focus on professional careers but personal wellbeing. We’ve got a month-long volunteering event coming up with lots of activities to help our community.
Socially, we always have something going on. We have Happy Fridays, team away days, quiz nights, sports days etc. so lots of opportunities for everybody to get together and celebrate the successes that we’ve had.
What do you think have been some of your standout highlights of working for GM&T to date?
For me, it was my first regulatory project. I was working with a lot of different areas that I hadn’t worked with before and one of our largest regulatory projects. It went live with no issues at all. The way you can tell a project goes well is when nobody can tell that anything has changed. If it’s quiet, you’re pretty happy that you’ve had a successful project go live. I worked with some really incredible people. I was very worried because it was my first regulatory project, but it went without any hiccups, so I think that was a pretty good feeling.
Within your sector what are some of the key potential risks that any of your businesses face and how likely are these to occur? What measures do you guys put in place to mitigate these risks?
Fundamentally there’s always going to be risks within a company, you know that people are going to make mistakes, you know that sometimes technical issues happen, and in an evolving environment you know that some processes can become outdated, but we mitigate that by having the best people in place and the best controls in place.
But the biggest risks are risks that we can’t mitigate; these are the hardest decisions because you are reliant on something that you can’t manage. But you can manage your processes on setting up the scenarios from there. When it’s a risk where you effectively can’t make the decisions, you have to take every reasonable step to say, “If this happens, what can we do?” and put together a scenario analysis based on that.
How did your previous roles in compliance and training prepare you for the move into your current role?
Working in Trading operations it helped me understand the processes and the controls that needed to be in place. In that role, you are processing a lot of information on a day-to-day basis, so you needed to understand how everything works as what seem like small discrepancies can lead to larger consequences. The team is very interdependent with a lot of teams. I think this helped me later on when you are required to get a lot of information on a tight deadline it’s always easier if you know who to go to, who has the information and who owns that information.
In the regulatory compliance space, I think it helps on the project management side. Understanding how processes work together, how all different lines of actions work, and making sure that you engage with all your key stakeholders.
What do you feel some of the most important skills for an effective risk analyst?
You have to be very good at deep diving into information. Trying to understand as much information as possible, taking a step back and asking the questions that might seem incredibly simple is essential. You need to take an objective overview of how everything works and then try to find ways in which we can make it better, more controlled and more effective.
And is there any particular further study or formal qualifications that’s necessary to progress within your particular kind of career role or is it more on-the-job sort of training?
I think a lot of it is on-the-job training. It’s all about where your skills lie and understanding which areas you are good at, which areas that you need help with, and then doing your own research into that area. We have core learning objectives and our learning and development teams organise a lot of courses online which anyone can take.
My team are encouraged to take part in external courses that support our key activities. Additionally, my managers are very supportive in that if there’s anything that I want to do that’s outside of the core offer, they are happy for me to take part.
What would you say to candidates looking to apply for a job within GM&T? As someone who’s been with the business and moved through various roles, what would your key advice be to those candidates?
If you’re willing to put in the effort and time and you’re enthusiastic, then it’s somewhere that I see people staying for a long time. We’ve got people that have moved from front office, mid office, back office, all over because you can learn so much. And because it’s so diverse and you work with different teams, you don’t just learn job-specific roles, you learn such a variety of skills that they’re transferrable into different areas.
And finally, for those people who are successful in that process, what can you give them if they’re looking to come in and make an impact and succeed straight away?
Get stuck in, don’t shy away from learning new things, and try to get out of your comfort zone. I think people here really appreciate it when others take an interest and try to find a better way of working that benefits everyone.
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