A ‘Jack Of All Trades’ and social butterfly, Roxane Sanguinetti is currently the Head of Strategy at GHCO, a former trader for a renowned bank, and an Angel Investor and advisor. She has incredibly valuable advice for people looking for something different from climbing the average corporate ladder in Finance.
While the beginning of her career revolved around Quantitative Finance and Trading, more specifically, she gradually transitioned towards becoming a generalist working on a lot of different projects and supporting different teams within the companies she worked for. Roxane is living proof that Quantitative Finance entails much more than just Trading!
Not your average finance career path
Roxane studied International Business and Quantitative Finance, which eventually led her to start her career as a trader at a renowned bank. After a couple of years, she felt like she needed more speed, tech and innovation. And so she joined a fintech startup within capital markets. That’s where she thrived!
“I like doing a lot of things at the same time. In a small firm, you get to take responsibility and ownership a lot quicker. You also see the results of your actions a lot quicker.”
Then, after getting a call from a former colleague of hers (the power of your network, right?) Roxane decided to join GHCO. There, she led the fixed-income ETF trading during the COVID period. She is now in charge of the global strategy of the business, that just got acquired by the Korean investment bank Mirae Asset Securities.
Her role at GHCO is quite varied and it fits her perfectly. But how did she get here?
We can’t help but ask: How did she do it?
Simply put, she knew what she wanted (or didn’t want!) and she built a professional path that fits exactly that. Roxane also had the ‘luck’ to encounter people who were very supportive of her and her ambitions.
“I’ve kind of created the roles for myself to a certain extent. I saw something interesting that was needed within the business and so I would just start working on it. I’m also very lucky that I’ve had people above me that were very supportive of that. And you won’t find that everywhere.”
Given her unconventional trajectory so far, it wasn’t as straightforward to figure out what kind of role she wanted, because she likes to touch upon a lot of different things.
The bottom line is that if you take initiative, it will always be rewarded one way or another. And if it’s not valued within your current company, this is something that you can always reuse in a different context.
Next, let’s talk about trading, and why Roxane is so passionate about it.
Working in Trading means, among other things, being in the centre of market news
Being a trader and working in Quantitative Finance always defined Roxane’s career in one way or another. So what made her revolve her work around this and take it one step further by becoming a very strategic, helicopter-view professional in this field?
“Very early on, I decided to go into trading thanks to two main factors: the speed of decision-making and being at the centre of market news. But what you choose boils down to your personality and kind of your preferred ways of working because working on deals versus working with markets is quite different.”
As Roxane mentioned, what a lot of people don’t realise is that traders are amongst the first to know about something happening anywhere in the world. And they have to be quick with making decisions based on this first-hand information: “I was still working as a trader when Brexit happened, or when Trump got elected. And it was incredible to witness these world events from my trading seat.”
Seeing these events impacting the world from a trader’s perspective is unique! And trading is an ever-evolving field – it’s getting more automated and algorithm-driven.
“The people who were good at trading before are not necessarily the ones that will be good at trading in the future, because of how things are evolving. Right now, we look at traders as problem solvers – constantly looking for ways to optimise performance, pricing, etc.”
Roxane mentioned that one essential skill for a trader nowadays is programming. So here’s a practical tip from a pro: learn how to code as early as you can.
Moreover, this is what you should look for in yourself if you’re considering becoming a trader:
You want to be at the centre of the market,
You want to work with a fast decision-making process,
You want to get (almost) immediate results from your work,
You are very precise and detail-oriented.
Finally, her advice for YOU
1. Stay open-minded: You never know what opportunities arise!
If you’re asking yourself the question of which career you want to pursue, Roxane advocates for staying open-minded. Not just at the start of your career, but throughout.
“Typically, every successful person I spoke to seized an opportunity at some point, even if it didn’t fit in their original career plan.”
2. Build your network: Attend events and find advocates
If you’re still stuck in the decision-making process for your career, contact professionals and go to events. See what others are doing and whether that could apply to you as well. You never know what might come out of it.
Something else that is important is to have sponsors. Not just mentors, but sponsors. And the difference is that a sponsor will have your back and advocate for you when you’re not in the room.
“I see now that certain relationships I’ve built became very important over time. I would say that’s probably the best way that you will encounter new opportunities within your career: when someone you’ve worked with, directly or indirectly, knows the good job that you’re doing and then will help you out with new opportunities.“
3. Find an environment that fits you
Last but not least, “if you feel uncomfortable within a company or if you feel like you’re in a toxic environment, move on. I think it’s crucial to protect your health and to find a place that will value you. It’s difficult to see it when you’re at the start of your career, but I think there is a growing awareness around it.”