Mindset of an entrepreneur

AS A a derivatives specialist my job is to create new and improve existing financial derivatives products, whether they are futures or options, which can be marketed to investors - either financial institutions or the everyday investor.

A derivative is a financial product that derives its value from the value of another asset. Rather than trade or exchange the underlying asset itself, derivative traders enter into an agreement to exchange cash or assets over time based on the underlying asset value. This may seem complicated, but we all use derivatives on a daily basis - the money we have in our wallets is a common derivative.

Why did you decide on this career?

I'm passionate about the financial sector. I've been at the JSE for just over six years where I began working in the IT department. I was then transferred to the equities division and now I am in the equity derivatives team. There is much more to the JSE than trading shares, so when I first started working in this division I didn't know anything about derivatives trading. Now I work with them on a daily basis and I trade them.

What's challenging about the job?

I don't see my job as a job but, thanks to the strong entrepreneurial culture at the JSE, I see myself as running a small business. Developing markets takes a long time - you have to look at things with a 10-year time span in mind. This can be frustrating as we all like to see quick results from our efforts.

What do you love most about your job?

The best thing about my job is that it is very varied - one day I will be working with software suppliers to ensure that the systems can calculate derivative products, and the next I may be meeting with a bank or brokerage to develop new products, signing off marketing material or speaking on the radio or television about the products.

What type of person would make a success of this position?

Someone who is a self-starter with lots of drive, ambition and entrepreneurial skills.

What (high school) subjects do you need to be able to study towards this career?

A natural talent for maths is definitely recommended.

What does one study at tertiary level to get into this career?

I have a Bachelor of Commerce in Informatics and my Honours in Strategic Management. Many of my colleagues, however, come from a variety of backgrounds.