Next time you come across a bearded senior banker infused with pride at having broken the facial hair ceiling, spare a thought for those who dared to go further, with more hair, longer ago.
The ranks of managing directors at one international bank in London contain a global head with dreadlocks that took two decades to cultivate. At a time when most applicants to banking jobs would have balked at even a generous moustache, the MD in question got into banking with the sort of hairstyle that some analysts and associates might have toyed with at college (albeit not now that there are relentless internships), but that few had the courage to retain when looking for a job.
Instead, as a white guy with dreads he got in, stayed in, and is now the head of fixed income quants globally for his employer. Naturally, he’s also very good at what he does and is exceptionally well qualified (first class degree in mathematics from Cambridge University, interlude in academia).
Quants aren’t usually client-facing, and it’s easier to take control of your appearance when you’re not meeting people with preconceptions about what someone who works for a bank is supposed to look like. However, the MD in question shows that it’s not always necessary to capitulate to corporate ideas of personal aesthetics – and that it never has been, given his long history in the industry (and long dreads). If you’re good at what you do, and smart in your own way, you can pull it off. And be known for it too. “It’s unusual to see a dreadlocked quant in the banking space – and refreshing in a world of lego-haired people,” reflects one observer.
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