A hot meal...what's that?

Blessed are they who enjoy the luxury of savouring the taste of hot food after seeing steam rise from their plate. Verily, they belong to a class of people for whom time is no master. One may even say that they are quite privileged. Slave or no slave, much do they differ from the rare breed of women and men we know – personally, for those of us who are so lucky – as investment bankers.

Everyone of us is slave to at least one master in life. And a master no real banker takes lightly is time. It does not forgive, forget or fail.

From the moment an individual seals over his or her commitment to the bank via contract, joins a team and embarks on a journey into the corporate world’s greatest money making establishment, time will define his world. Soon after it may come to change everything about him or her.

Having a young army of energetic souls willing to sacrifice all of their waking hours to the service and pursuit of money certainly adds to an investment bank’s arsenal. However, the organization is able to deliver jaw-dropping results by also simultaneously pushing the limits of human productivity. Before joining an investment bank we see a boy who may be comfortable running around his neighbourhood for a half hour if he paces himself and breathes correctly. A few years into the job we encounter a man whose ambitions only Everest will satisfy. His ability to now achieve much more in a fraction of the time partly due to his growing respect for time.

Rise at 6 in the morning. Shower and dress rapidly. Rush to work. Don’t be late to your morning meeting. Finish the client presentation. Dial in to all the important calls. Meet clients. Send your loved one an I-miss-you SMS. As the list of priorities, tasks and objectives continually rises, so does the need to break down time into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Yet just as it takes time to tame a wild beast, it also takes time to appreciate the gravity of time itself, though of course time is a beast none can tame. [READ MORE…]


Pulling a Stretch

There’s a lot of truth to the notion that a meal tastes even better when it’s free. While working in the bank many a meals were on the house. Stay past 8pm and you were entitled to a dinner, compliments of the Paris Berkeley Capital. This was one of the many perks of the job, which, when you really thought about it, was another way of keeping you chained to the job.

Given the bank’s enormous budget, it didn’t really matter how much you spent on dinner when you worked late at the office. Especially when it was commonplace for many bankers to spend thousands on drinks in one go while entertaining clients in nightclubs, restaurants and lounges. So what was £30 or $50 for dinner? Nothing really.

So when it came to late nights at the office – that was the case 95% of the time – no expenses were spared. We’d head out somewhere nearby, often a sushi joint, and would order more than enough food. It wasn’t about how much room you think you had in your stomach as it was what you felt like seeing in front of you as you sat down to eat. Like a wealthy Russian or Gulf Arab at Harrods you grabbed whatever you liked. “Just order it,” we’d tell one another if someone’s eyes stayed fixated on a particular menu item longer than a split second. If you were undecided between two mains, you ordered both. Plain and simple.

The right time to eat

You were allowed to order dinner on the company only after a certain time. Naturally, the closer you came to that time the stronger the gravitational pull of your chair. Consequently, if you finished your work and were ready to leave but you were only ten minutes away from dinner time you hung around a bit longer. What the hell, you’d think to yourself.

You were said to be “pulling a stretch”, “stretching it” or “going for a stretcher” when you delayed going home to the comfort of your bed in exchange for having a free meal at the office.

Some days I’d walk past a colleague sitting at the desk doing nothing but chatting on the phone with a friend or just surfing the web. “What are you up to?” I’d ask.

“Pullin a stretch,” he’d reply before looking up at one of the digital clocks around. “Ten more minutes and I’m gettin sushi for me and my girl.”


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