Imagine if, when things got bad in 2008 you decided to take 8 months out 'in the garden' until things got back to normal. Imagine, then, that 8 months later you managed to get a new role as an MD in Delta One at Morgan Stanley. Imagine that you stayed in that role for three years before - in January 2012 - you left for reasons unknown. But 9 months later you were back again - this time as COO of equities for EMEA at Barclays.
Meet Richard Evans, the electronic trading/programme trading/Delta One wunderkind. Evans' career seems blissfully immune to market conditions.
It took only five years (1997-2002) for Evans to progress from graduate trainee at Salomon Brothers to head of programme trading for Europe at Citigroup. This seems favourable compared to career trajectories in corporate finance (and to compared to trajectories at the FSA, where it took Tracey McDermott ten years to metamorphose from associate to MD.) In 2008, Evans says he spent 8 months, 'Gardening until the dust settles.' And yet he still got the new, senior role at Morgan Stanley in September 2009 when hardly anyone was hiring.
Equally, despite spending nine months on indeterminate activities, Evans doesn't seem to have had any trouble walking back into the market again this year. He's even been hired by Barclays, which headhunters say has put everything on hold pending the appearance of a new CEO.
The question clearly is: is Evans an exception?
The answer, unfortunately, is: yes.
"There's not that much demand for people with Delta One experience right now," says one equity derivatives headhunter in London. "It's really hard to get back into the market. You used to be able to call up all your buddies from the beach and they'd offer you a new job and it was all fine. That doesn't happen any more."
"In the case of Richard Evans, you have a very senior banker who's worked for a big name bank and has an excellent reputation," says another equities headhunter. "Most normal people are going to struggle."
What most normal people can, however, learn from Evans' career, is flexibility. Evans rode the rise in electronic trading and when Delta One was hot, moved into Delta One. Now that banks are crying out for good operational managers, he's moved into a COO role. If you're out of the market, take note: it's all about reinvention.