Sophie Jourdain (PGE 2015): “Persevere to succeed; SKEMA provides an essential education”

14 December 2022 INTERVIEW

Sophie Jourdain, a graduate of SKEMA Business School’s Grande Ecole apprenticeship programme, is now an equity trader at Credit Suisse in Zurich. She tells us about her journey in this interview. 


Could you tell us a little about yourself and your journey so far?

My name is Sophie Jourdain; I was born in the Yvelines department and I’m a graduate of the SKEMA Class of 2015. I currently work as an equity trader in the EMEA zone, in securities lending at Credit Suisse Zurich. After 2 years of business school preparatory classes in Paris, I joined SKEMA in 2012 on the Lille campus. I really fell in love with the school and the city during my tour of France. The first year was a huge change after a couple of very intense years at preparatory school, and I learned some new subjects more useful for the working world. I also enjoyed the big events in the first year (L3), like the welcome forum on the first day, the integration weekend (WEI), the election campaigns, the different parties and other student events. After a year of general studies in L3, I decided to do the apprenticeship programme over two years. During the Master 1 year I worked in digital and strategic marketing for a small enterprise based in Rambouillet that sold smartphone accessories on Amazon. In parallel I attended lectures on the Lille campus, so I had 2 days of lectures and 3 days of work every week.

What did you choose as a major?

When I enrolled at SKEMA, I had two very clear ideas for a career: one was digital marketing and the other was equity trading in market finance. My first jobs were in digital marketing, then when I started to feel like I’d “been there, done that” – without knowing everything, of course – I switched over to my second idea. So in my Master 2 year I chose to specialise in corporate finance and audit, naturally, since market finance wasn’t available as an apprenticeship option. For that final year at SKEMA, I transferred to the Paris campus. In Paris I changed apprenticeship contracts, switching to an employer-brand marketing and business development position in a medium-sized company offering business consulting in market finance. I was alternating one week of lectures and two weeks of work.


Could you tell us more about your current occupation? 

I am an equity trader for the EMEA zone, in securities lending at Credit Suisse Zurich. My team (or desk) borrows and, for the most part, lends shares or ETFs to counterparties, i.e. to major banks looks for stocks to cover their own short positions or market shorts or those of their clients. The shares I lend come from funds looking to improve their portfolio return.


In what ways have SKEMA and the SKEMA Alumni network enabled you to achieve your professional goals?


Having a master’s in finance from SKEMA has enabled me to be selected for the jobs I found interesting. I also found an internship thanks to an alumnus who had set up his own company. The alumni network gave me the chance to speak to people working in the industry I had my sights set on. And overseas, the network provided great human support. SKEMA Alumni also gave me the opportunity to be an ambassador of the Brussels and Frankfurt club and, as a result, to do something I love doing: organising events and meeting new people.


What advice would you give a student wanting to succeed in your field?


Finance in general, and market finance in particular, always seems very obscure to a lot of people. But I don’t think the profession in itself is difficult to understand. You just have to get past the jargon, so learn new words as you do when learning a foreign language. For this, the internet is a great source of information and industry-related books can be useful for certain references and for building up your own general knowledge of finance. But the job of trader can only be learned hands-on. You can’t learn to trade from books or lectures. So you have to persevere, use your competitive advantages, and present an interesting profile to find the manager who will give you a chance to get out on the trading floor. After that, it’s up to you to prove yourself!

I would recommend students talk to traders to better understand the job and how everything is structured; but also find out about the topics that are important to know about, such as ethics, ESG and regulations; put together a good CV and LinkedIn profile; and network at in-person events or online.


What is your motto in everyday life?

My motto, the one I live by, is a quote from The Enchiridion or Handbook of Epictetus: “Welcome events in whatever way they happen, this is the path to peace.” This is an important lesson for daily living, reminding us that we should take care only of what we can control and accept the rest. It’s not always easy, but it’s excellent advice to follow. It also means that we are the masters of our own destiny and that is why I don’t much like people who are indecisive!

What is your fondest memory of SKEMA?

It’s really tough to choose, because there are a lot... but I would say my last day of lectures in my Master 2 year. We had a final PowerPoint presentation to do in front of a jury and then it was all over. The end of life as a student and the start of real life! So my team and I took a great photo to mark the occasion, something to remember that last day by.

Could you give us three words that, in your opinion, represent the school?

Diversity, dynamism, and connection.


Contact: Sophie Jourdain - Equity Trader at Credit Suisse Zurich