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My three-point career plan for the Year of the Tiger

It has now been four months since I started my new position in research in a second-tier Asian city. On a scale of one to 10, I rate my experience an eight.

My moan

I’ve felt frustrated at times. For one thing, there has been some major reshuffling in the firm due to the usual grab your bonus and jump ship routine at this time of the year.

We will be getting a new head of department soon, and I have that tingling sense of not knowing what to expect. Aside from that, some aspects of an analyst’s job are about as fun as watching joss sticks burn.

Annual reports (endless annual reports!) are just a tad more interesting to read than an Oxford dictionary, and using Excel continuously gives me new reasons to hate Microsoft. I can only remind myself that these are all parts and parcels of the job, and the dividends will be paid over time. With that, I conclude the whining section of this article.

My call to action

The Lunar New Year is upon us, so from an Asian perspective, it’s not too late to outline plans and objectives for 2010. As a tribute to every manager’s fetish-like fascination with acronyms and three-point plans, here are my goals for myself. I’ve called my plan “NCK”. You might like to follow it too (or not).

Network

I will be continuously expanding my network around the region. I can’t help thinking that my previous job search was lengthened partly because a sizeable portion of my contacts were in the US, not Asia. Some were at firms that were in trouble and didn’t have time to help an acquaintance half the world away.

I will have to build a much larger arsenal of regional contacts if I want to have a shot at moving into the bigger markets in a year or two. Alumni networking events would be a good place to start.

CFA

It was not until a couple of months into the job that I gave more thought to continuing the much dreaded certification programme. I had passed the first level some years ago, prior to enrolling in business school, but then I put off completing the remaining levels because I thought an MBA alone would guarantee job security.

As far as I can remember, the CFA was no picnic. My weekends are as good as gone for the next five months. Only this time around, I’m older, so hopefully my ability to absorb the materials has not diminished.

There seems to be a growing perception that the CFA is overrated. Experience always beats paper qualifications right? But lets face it; Asia is still a place where qualifications matter at least as much as, if not more than, the sum of your experience.

At the very least, I’m convinced this still holds true for middle to junior positions. When was the last time anyone saw a financial recruitment ad without the “MBA with CFA preferred” clause? What have I got to lose? If the CFA still matters as much in the future as it does now, great. If not, at least I get to sharpen up my quantitative skills.

Knowledge

I will strive to gain as much knowledge as possible, across different sectors in different markets. Although my sector focus for the immediate future has been outlined by my current employer, I will have to use my own initiative in order to improve on my knowledge of other major markets.

It will be hard to sell myself to an international firm if I only have in-depth knowledge of a niche sector in a single market.

Here’s a tip to anyone who is considering doing likewise: there are no shortages of research reports and reading materials floating out there to be had for little to no cost. Be resourceful.

I have written quite a lot on this website about my new position, from the offer acceptance until now. It is time to make some real progress. And what better time to take action than the Year of the Tiger, right?

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