What drew you to the derivatives industry?
I was drawn to the financial industry generally, rather than a particular asset class. I started working at Dow Jones Telerate as a field service engineer when I was 21 years old, which I did for several years, building up experience and understanding of the industry. I then left to work for Trading Technologies, a US-based company that didn't have an office in London at the time. When the Liffe trading floor was closing and becoming electronic, they needed people in London to help. This was a natural segue for me and my career continued from there. Now I am at Eventus Systems working with people I have known for a long time and carry the same passion to succeed in a competitive market.
Who have been your role models and the most influential people in your career?
The first is my mother. I think many would say their parents because they have to fight the fight first. I am one of four siblings and my mother was a factory shift worker while raising us. I look at what she did and can see that she had an influence on who I am now. If I really want to do something, I will find a way of doing it.
The other person is Alan Harney, who was a technical man at TT. He came over from the US and I was his understudy. He never judged me, and he enabled me to move forward with confidence, probably not knowing that he did that. That meant a lot to me.
How have things changed in terms of diversity and inclusion since you started working?
When I started out in the industry, it was very difficult to progress as a young black man. The environment was oppressive, and you had to learn fast and deal with injustices within the workplace and client sites daily. Unfortunately, there were too many examples, proving it was due to ethnicity.
"Diversity and inclusion" didn't exist at that time, it was only really about ten years ago that people started talking about D&I, probably due to economic and social changes. Companies started to look at where they could become more inclusive, but D&I tended to be more of a tick box exercise. Companies would collate the data, they would say 'we need to increase our quota’ but once filled, no further action was taken to provide help and guidance.
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What do you see as the biggest barriers to black and ethnic minority professionals going into leadership roles?
This is not a deep pool, which is a problem. I say that because to become a leader, you need mentors to guide you or role models to follow. People who were hired didn't necessarily progress, and I believe more was needed to be done internally to make sure people moved forward. I'm not saying, 'We're black, you've got to give us everything', that's certainly not the case. It's more about making sure that if you're open to bringing in a diverse range of people into the industry, that they are given the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Tell us one thing you hope for future generations
For young people, their pathway into the financial industry is normally through a graduate scheme and I can understand why financial houses do this. Unfortunately, that path isn't always open to everyone. What I would like to see, in addition to graduate programs, is some form of apprenticeship program to be included. I would also like to see some of these D&I initiatives go into the schools. Other changes, if possible, would be the anonymising of CVs. If you can get through the door with a CV based on your qualifications and experience, at least you have a chance.
I would also like to see support and representation within companies and the industry for young black people starting out, which goes back to what I was saying before. You may be able to get yourself a job within a company, but if you don't have anybody there to help you progress, it can be a minefield.
Roger Chandler is Senior Sales Engineer at Eventus Systems, based in London. Chandler has spent most of his career working in technical sales and relationship management for software vendors within the industry.