NSIT to Wall Street

NSIT to Wall Street: Prashanti Uppulari

Prashanti Uppulari

Nomura Holdings – Mumbai

Associate, Private Financing

ICE Batch of 2011

Nomura Holdings, has been one of the most coveted non-core companies in the placement season. A Japan based Investment Bank, Nomura acquired Lehmann Brothers’ Asia operations post its collapse in the financial crisis of 2008. Let’s find out more about Nomura from Prashanti Uppulari.

1. Please tell us more about your role and teams you had worked with at Nomura. What was your work at Nomura entail?

I started as an Analyst in the fixed income division with the CVA (Credit Value Adjustment) trading desk, which is responsible for managing and hedging counterparty risk. Being the junior-most member on the team I was working on everything from reporting risk, providing hedging strategies to booking the trades and coordinating with other divisions – basically a lot of number crunching and talking on the phone. After that I moved to the Private Financing team, which provides financing to distressed companies in South East Asia. My role was primarily due diligence on the company and the sector.

2. Women are underrepresented in finance sector. Why is it that some women, in particular, do not find finance company suitable?

The really sought after roles in investment banking have been stereotyped as being stressful with really long working hours. I think that is one of the main reasons some woman choose not to go for those roles. But I feel that the stress and amount of work depend more on the sort of team you are in than the company or profile. There is also a wage gap for the same jobs, but this is slowly bridging to par. Don’t base your decisions on the current constitution in the field and don’t even bother thinking about things like gender discrimination. They don’t come to play while hiring. Prepare well and you are set.

3. How is the work culture at Nomura? Also, how would it fare against other investment banking firms?

The culture was, according to me, the best thing at Nomura. Most people are young, warm and willing to help you. It is quite easy to approach almost anyone. In comparison with other banks, I felt that the competition among peers is quite low.

4. You are currently pursuing MBA from Indian School of Business. Why did you choose to pursue MBA over Masters in Finance?

My aim is to get to a leadership role in finance. My decision was based on the gaps in knowledge that I wanted to fill and the sort of network that I wanted to build. MBA is more holistic in that sense and offers more courses about businesses, consumers and economy in general.

5. Was Nomura worth the hype?

Definitely. It is a great platform to start your career with. You get to build relationships and explore a different city. I learnt a lot on the job, travelled to 4 countries and got a lot of freedom to take decisions.

6. What would be your advice for students at NSIT, interested in pursuing a career in finance?

1. Read a lot. The topics are quite interesting and forever relevant. Can’t stress this more: follow one of the newspapers Mint/Business Standard. The Economist is highly recommended

2. If you have absolutely no clue, then exams like FRM and CFA can be a good start. Most engineering students take the CFA level 1 exam before applying to show their interest and basic understanding of finance

3. Participate in stock pitching competitions, invite speakers from the field to the campus

4. Network with more alumni. Talk to them and get to know what they did and what are their career options