If you’ve previously worked as a researcher for the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland, maybe the structured products division of an investment bank doesn’t seem like such a challenge.
Ryan Buckingham, a particle physicist with a PhD from Oxford University who joined the credit and mortgage structuring team at Goldman Sachs in 2013, has now moved on from a brief foray in investment banking to become a secondary school physics teacher in London.
Buckingham had risen up the ranks at Goldman Sachs pretty quickly. He joined as an associate in 2013 – a grade that normally requires three years before a promotion – but was an executive director in structured credit trading at the time of his departure. Nonetheless, he decided to move into teaching and is currently at St Paul’s secondary school in London.
Not that Buckingham has chosen to move to just any school. St Paul’s School is an exclusive boys’ school in West London that costs £11,723 a term to attend as a boarder. It’s an institution of choice for well-heeled financiers who wish to send their children into a school that feeds into top universities. In any given year, St Paul’s says that around a third of its graduating class to Oxford and Cambridge, while others end up at Warwick, LSE, or Imperial and 20 boys each year accept places at Ivy League universities.
Teaching has nonetheless been a relatively common career switch for those in investment banking, but it was most prevalent in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when heads were being cut drastically. More recently, Brian Daly, who was head of futures and options sales at Royal Bank of Scotland, left for a “second career” in education.
But CERN has also been an effective feeder into financial services careers. Alexey Afonin, a vice president in strats and modelling at Morgan Stanley used to work there. Martin Jamack, who is now a market modeller at J.P. Morgan, spent 14 years as a researcher at CERN before moving into banking in 2004.
It’s also a good thing to have on your CV at entry level. Annabel Downs, a CBS trader at Goldman Sachs, interned at CERN as did Walid Hatimy, who now works in equity derivatives at J.P. Morgan.
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