Career x Major Insights - Travis Wu
by Sam Ni
Finance is a wide discipline within the business school with a diverse range of career paths. To help us in this journey we have Travis Wu to provide his valuable insights into breaking into a career in finance.
1. Tell us about yourself!
I'm Travis and I'm a 4th year commerce/law student, majoring in finance. My mentality to work has always been "you never know what something is like until you try it." For my professional career, I've worked in law, tech and am currently working in finance. At UNSW, I was the Treasurer of BSOC in 2020 and I'm currently a Consulting Engagement Director in BusinessOne Consulting. I believe building relationships is fundamental to any role - developing a strong support network is the key to success.
2. Is there any characteristic that you believe made you a more competitive candidate for your roles?
I believe tenacity is the most important characteristic to landing roles as a uni student. I've applied to countless jobs, both at boutique and large firms, since 2nd year and have been rejected 100+ times. In reality you only need one job - sometimes doors close but better ones open, so always be on the lookout for new opportunities.
3. What was the most interesting/useful part of your major in your opinion?
To be honest I don't really think a commerce degree teaches tangible skills for a career in finance. I greatly enjoyed FINS1613 as it introduced me to the world of finance. After working at a bank, I realised how useful FINS3630 was since it goes into different types of market and regulatory risks that banks face, especially following the Hayne Royal Commission and changes to APRA guidelines.
4. How relevant was the content you learned or extracurriculars you did to your roles today
Your uni courses will give you a basic understanding of concepts, but won't equip you with any hard skills such as financial modelling, design skills or client management. Extracurricular activities are actually very useful in building up these skills - societies, case competitions, skills workshops and networking events are just some of the many ways that you can gain valuable experiences in uni. One of my most challenging but rewarding achievements in uni was organising the 2019 BSOC Ski Trip as a Sports Director - the client negotiation, marketing preparation and event management really helped me develop professionally! In terms of relevant finance experience, I would say that case competitions are great in giving students a taste of the work in finance - competitions such as the UBS Challenge, Macquarie Boardroom Pitch and Citi Global Markets Challenge are highly reputable and may even lead to a first round interview for students who perform well in them.
5. What roles have you taken on, and what have they entailed (Corporate and institutional banking, M&A, Business development etc.)?
I began my career as a paralegal in a boutique commercial law firm. While I quickly realised it wasn't for me, I became quite interested in debt financing and restructuring. I also did a stint in tech at Amazon Web Services over the 2019/20 summer, where I gained valuable insights into value chains between AWS and consulting/technology partners. After competing in various finance competitions, I realised I was quite interested in finance. In 2020 I worked in a boutique M&A firm performing sell-side advisory for technology companies.
Seeking to gain exposure to larger scale transactions and more product groups, I participated in the 2020/21 summer internship at NAB in the Corporate & Institutional Banking division, where I'm currently still working part-time in the Private Capital Syndicate team. My responsibilities are to assist my team in bookrunning and underwriting syndicated loans, and to determine investor appetite re: pricing and tenor. I will also be commencing a winter internship at Credit Suisse in June in the Investment Banking division.
6. What are some takeaways from your experience?
My biggest takeaway would be that there is value in every role you experience - even if it's in an industry that you may not see yourself having a career in, the perspectives that you gain are invaluable and will help you develop your interests and passions. For me, my earlier experiences in law and tech helped mould my interests in finance and equipped me with translatable skills.
7. What may be some common misconceptions/ fun facts about these roles that people might be unaware of?
There are many misconceptions about how rigorous the requirements are for breaking into investment banking (e.g. good grades, relevant work experience, strong extracurriculars). I would say that they are all important, but the most important thing is your STORY. When writing your CV, you want to be able to show WHY you're interested in finance and HOW you've built up your experiences to pursue this. This can be through doing well in uni courses, having work experience, being involved in societies or participating in activities such as case competitions. There is no hard and fast rule, but it is important to show that you have an interest in finance and that this has manifested in your involvement at uni.
8. How did you maintain a high standard of academics despite so much work, extracurriculars and a social life?
I definitely have not maintained a WAM as high as I wanted. Online classes definitely helped me study more by reducing commute time to uni. My biggest tip would be to study EFFICIENTLY - there is not much time to learn so much content at uni, especially given trimesters, so you want to be efficient in studying to maintain a balanced life.