Switching Lanes

A picture of Darren, the CEO of Nudge Exchange
Darren Nicol

Around about this time last year I made the decision to change careers.

At the age of 43 and living quite comfortably I made the decision that I wanted to move from the oil and gas industry and do something different. I just didn't know what that different was. I thought long and hard about going into the finance industry as I really enjoy investing. This went as far as holding a few interview chats and I had an offer to progress down the wealth management route. However, I decided against this route as I felt that it was more sales than I'd like to pursue and I preferred the analysis path. I'd already attained an MSc in Finance but it didn't seem to open the doors to much interviews so I started undertaking my CFA qualification in order to improve my chances. I thought in for a penny in for a pound I'd go back to University and undertake a MSc in Financial Technology which I felt could give me a further edge in the job market place. This decision was seen as strange by some, but I went with my gut and made the move to Glasgow with a positive mindset hoping to be the next Warren Buffett (Charlie Munger and Warren are personal heroes!).

So how has this all panned out? Well certainly not as I expected! As time has progressed, I've completed the MSc in Fintech modules but I started to get more interested in the tech side of Fintech. In the entrepreneurial world they love to call this a 'pivot' so I guess I have pivoted my career pivot! Throughout the course we studied Python and R. As much as it didn't come to me naturally I felt that it was the future of not only finance but all business, so I signed up for coding boot camp, which in Glasgow, is called CodeClan. CodeClan is a 16 week intensive course that get's the participants work place ready for a junior development role, it teaches Ruby, Javascript and Java languages and requires the students to undertake three projects. I've completed half the course and it's is as intense as they said it would be! They say the CFA is the third toughest exam in the world, I passed that, but I am struggling to learn to code, it's a relentless pace that pushes most to their limit so it certainly isn't for the faint hearted.

I'm trusting the process and I hope I'll get to a fundamental level from which to grow in the next eight weeks. As I have progressed through the course I have realised that not all pick up coding naturally and the way I view it is this is only the start of my 'apprenticeship' and if it takes years it takes years but I will learn it. So what do I aim to do with the qualification, well I believe that my skill set may lean me towards a career in tech but not necessarily as a developer. The skills that I have developed over the course of my career, such as operational, project, financial and, most of all, people management and communication haven't disappeared so I believe that what the course will do is allow me to speak 'tech', after all all industries have their own talk (The oil services company Schlumberger have produced a glossary of terms), all I have to do is swap my bottom-holes for backends and slick-lines for objects and instances! This will give me a basic understanding that you need to make a switch from oil and gas to tech. It is however only the start of the journey that I can't believe took me so long to start. So to summarise my thoughts, and for anyone thinking of making a change: my advice would be to go for it, but be under no illusion. It will be tough, but if you are committed it's well worth it because let's face it, all businesses are or will be tech!

Feel free to post thoughts/ experiences, namaste!

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