'An employer who placed the right value on me'
Business analyst: 'Capital in society'
Sebastian F. Arackaparambil
I work as a senior business analyst in the e-business division of the Bank of Montreal, in Toronto, Ontario.
Years in position
I've been in this position for three-and-a-half months now. I previously worked for a bank in the United Arab Emirates, where I spent a pleasurable two-and-a-half years.
I'm 26 and a Leo, although that means nothing to me -- my only interest in the zodiac is its astronomical (as opposed to astrological) elements.
I have an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, and an MBA -- both from universities in India.
How did you get your current job?
Well, it was after a long and sometimes frustrating job search that I took up this position. I arrived in Canada as an immigrant, applied for jobs that I felt fitted in with my capabilities and aspirations -- and finally succeeded in finding an employer who placed the right value on me. My lack of work experience in North America was a disadvantage, but I managed to surmount that successfully.
How many hours do you work per week?
Officially I'm required to work 37.5 hours per week, 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. But that's just a number on paper. In practice, I work as long (or short!) as it takes to get my work done. If that means working weekends or after hours, no problem. It all evens out in the end.
What's the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
Not coffee, as many people do. I tend to get in to work slightly early, check my e-mail, quickly check the headlines and stock indices at CNN.com, and let the rest of the day take its course.
What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?
Lunch is a really tricky issue with me. l always eat out but, being vegetarian, I find it quite difficult to get the variety of food I want on a daily basis. And I haven't yet found the time to be able to prepare my own daily lunch. The hour is flexible at work -- but I generally take it around noon, followed by a casual stroll in the office environs.
If you're having a good day at work, what is it that makes it good?
I try to make every day of mine a good day -- be nice to my colleagues, not be upset by irritating co-workers, plan my work in such a way that I don't end up firefighting issues at the last minute and stay well within deadlines. The fact that my work is unstructured helps me in this regard, in the sense that I can pace myself the way I see fit.
How much work, if any, do you take home?
I don't take work home. I stay at work for as long as it takes.
What does your work contribute to society?
Well, I work for an organization that enables the interchange of capital in society, ultimately leading to greater productivity and standards of living. I contribute in my own small way to the working of the bank's business lines, through my adaptable, knowledge-based skills.
Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
I would hope not -- but I'm not going to complain if I do. I'm hoping to add value to myself and my organization during my corporate career. Work is a means to an end. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have their dream as their job. I look at work as a means to help me work on my interests, in the hope that some day I will be able to work on my dreams full-time. The important thing is to take life as it comes, do your best and have fun.
If you could have two more careers, what would they be?
A concert guitarist and a writer.
What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
Spreading negative comments about other co-workers. Minding one's own business is what I believe in.
What do you do to relieve stress?
I am a student of yoga. I find it a great means for relieving stress, both at the physical and mental levels. Yoga also helps me discipline my daily existence.
What have you been reading lately?
I'm a language buff. I speak French and Italian and am presently studying Spanish. Consequently, my reading has been slightly eclectic -- lots of French novels including "Du Côté de chez Swann" by Marcel Proust, "L'âge de Raison" by Jean Paul Sartre, "L'étranger" by Albert Camus. Some Italian stuff including "Fausto e Anna" by Carlo Cassola.
I also recently read Joseph Heller's "Catch 22," which I thought was fantastic. I also read "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger -- pretty good, but I couldn't understand what all the fuss is about this one.
When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door in the morning and off to work?
I look at myself as a professional. If I'm being paid to do my job, I have a duty to do it to the best of my ability, and to add as much value as I can. It also helps if you have a good work environment with great colleagues -- because in tough times, they make life and work easier to face.
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