Strategic Development

What will I be doing?

Solving problems and leveraging opportunities that involve more than one functional area.  You’ll work as part of a team at the start with a focus on maximum independence over time.

What are the unique advantages of this opportunity?

Even early in your career, you can acquire broad cross-functional expertise which will enable you to lead and manage people and projects.  You also get to work with accomplished technical specialists and benefit from their expertise.

What are the unique challenges?

You will need intelligence, creativity, attention to detail, and the ability to get up to speed quickly in multiple areas to do well.  Success will require a broad range of skills, so some may find this more difficult than succeeding in a purely technical opportunity.

This description is too abstract.  Could you give me some specific examples of what I might be doing?

Our business strategy is proprietary but we have listed some hypothetical examples below.  These are listed in order of the approximate amount of experience required for success, starting from entry level.

These are hypothetical examples which do not span the range of possibilities for the position.  Your actual work assignments may include any or none of these examples and may be more or less challenging.  These hypothetical examples do not include the highest level of possibilities for the position.  YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THESE HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLES IN MAKING ANY EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS.

Facilitating Global Expansion

We could be setting up equity trading in different countries.  This process involves many different groups within the firm, including trading, compliance, and technology.  You might be asked to help out with this process in one country.  Afterwards, you would make recommendations for how to streamline the process.

To solve this problem, you would need to develop some technical expertise in all of the project areas.  You would then need good planning skills to devise and execute your solution.

ISDA Negotiation

In order to trade swaps, we must have high-level ISDA agreements in place with our counterparties.  Although there is a standard ISDA master agreement, each counterparty has its own template of custom terms and demands.  These contracts are complex, and it is not always clear how the language of the contract would apply under different circumstances.  You might formulate your own negotiating strategy.

To get a good result, you would have to understand both the financial implications of the completed agreement and the effect of the negotiating process on counterparty relationships.  The estimated length of time required to complete the process would also be a factor in designing your negotiating strategy.  Professional advisors may help, but you would make the decisions on how to trade off between legal, financial, relationship, and scheduling issues.

Interconnectedness vs. Security

You may be asked to assess the design of our computer network.  The more interconnected our computer facility is, the easier it is to do our work.   The vulnerability to computer hackers also increases with interconnectedness.  You might be asked to interview some of our employees in order to assess the value of increased connectivity and to work with technology consulting firms to assess the risk of increased interconnectedness.  You would then recommend both the best security mechanisms and the optimal degree of interconnectedness.

To solve this problem, you would need to understand both computer security technology and Spark’s work environment.

Patent Licensing

Our firm is characterized by the intelligence and imagination of its employees, who often come up with valuable patentable inventions.  At this time, these inventions serve only as topic of conversation.  We might want to have an in-house facility for patenting and licensing these inventions.  You might be asked to explore this area.

You would need to be able to assess how you could fairly reward inventors and improve morale without distracting the company from its primary mission.   If you decide that it would be a good idea to have such a facility, you would need to work with professionals to handle the disclosure and conflict of interest issues that would arise.

Employee Investment

Employees of an investment management firm often wish to invest a portion of their savings in the firm’s funds.  This has the potential to simplify their asset allocation process and offer them a bigger stake in the company’s fortunes, which might boost morale.  At the same time, it is easy for employees to become under-diversified when their compensation and their investment fortunes are dependent on the same strategy.  You might be asked to determine our policy for employee investment in our funds.

To solve this problem, you would need to be able to visualize how your proposed solution would work for our employees in good times and bad, to have the investment expertise to assess the probable outcome, and to have the legal and regulatory abilities required to devise a compliant solution.  Of course, you’ll consult with professionals throughout the process.

“Black Swan” and Disaster Protection

You might design a system to protect us from global market shocks.  Our investors’ capital, as well as our firm as a whole, may be exposed to volatility in the financial system.  Although there is no way to fully hedge this risk, we may want to create a “Black Swan” fund that would profit under volatile conditions and provide a cushion against unexpected losses.  You might be given the responsibility for this project.

You would need financial and legal expertise to decide how to structure the fund and how the firm might participate.  You would also need imagination and investment expertise in order to make sure the fund was likely to perform well in difficult environments without showing excessive losses during normal times.  Significant compliance considerations, including adequate disclosure to investors, would also come into play.