With so many people jumping out of banking to do something new, Lucia Waldner’s decision to leave a career as a lobbyist and journalist to join Credit Suisse is noteworthy.
Waldner is the head of the Credit Suisse Research Institute, the bank’s in-house think-tank, as well as being director of international affairs and innovation at its office of the chairman. Her rise up the ranks has been rapid – seven years ago she was in a different career altogether.
Waldner also has an MBA from Oxford University’s Said and an MS from the London School of Economics. Before joining Credit Suisse, Waldner worked as a journalist and started a public affairs consultancy, working in transportation and aviation security policy-making with EU institutions in Brussels.
What exactly is the Credit Suisse Research Institute, and how did Waldner become its chief? “Credit Suisse wanted to have dedicated resources, not only looking toward the next quarter, but also to have a group of people that think long-term and identify and study trends that should not be missed,” Waldner said.
“I’m a political scientist, and I did my MBA in disruptive innovation at Oxford before fintech had started to make its mark, which helps me contribute to CSRI’s mission of looking ahead to long-term issues and potential challenges.,” she said. “I was a journalist for a long time, so I am very curious and ask tricky questions, and I worked in political affairs – it all helps understand the broader context of things.”
“Our ambition is to quantify trends,” Waldner said. “We find numbers that are out there but haven’t been reported or interpreted and contribute to the policy debate by saying what the data means and what the long-term effects are.”
Advice for students and recent graduates
Whatever it is that you’re interested in, it doesn’t have to be in style or hip, Waldner said. Always follow your passion and develop skills around it. Then, find a place where those skills really matter, she advised.
“As a political scientist, I could have done political analysis, worked as a politician or continued working in public affairs – I know a lot about the EU, so I asked myself, ‘Where would this knowledge be most useful?’” Waldner said. “Going to Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, at a challenging time for the financial services sector made my skillset valuable and I got to develop important initiatives even though I was more junior than most of my colleagues.
“I was able to work on challenging issues and was exposed to senior management early on,” she said. “There was a realization that regulation defines the future of our industry right now, so what I know about policy-making is hugely valuable in this sector.”
Image courtesy of Credit Suisse