On the job as an associate director at National Australia Bank

Sarah Forsyth studied law/ commerce at the University of Adelaide and is now an associate director at National Australia Bank.
Jaymes Carr
Jaymes Carr
Team GradAustralia
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What is your name and current role?

My name is Sarah Forsyth. I am an associate director in the business and corporate markets sales team at National Australia Bank.

What did you study?

I studied a double degree in law/ commerce, majoring in corporate finance at the University of Adelaide. I graduated from my commerce degree in 2012, and from law in 2013.

How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you had it?

After graduating from university, I accepted a graduate role with National Australia Bank in Sydney. The NAB Grad Program involves rotations within different areas of the bank. During one of these rotations I became passionate about a career in markets – and so, after completing the program, I accepted a role as a foreign exchange associate and now work in interest rate sales.

What does your division do?

I work within NAB Global Markets, which specialises in providing interest rate and foreign currency risk management solutions to clients across a broad range of industries.

What does your job involve?

I work closely with my clients to help them mitigate foreign exchange and interest rate risks that arise from international and commercial debt transactions. Currency risk is created when entities transact internationally and are exposed to fluctuations in foreign currency. To protect themselves from adverse currency movements, entities can enter into derivative transactions as a means of risk management or ‘hedging’.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. People with a finance, commerce, science, technology, engineering or maths background  could also pursue a similar marketsbased role. For those with purely a legal background, I would recommend obtaining some exposure or experience related to financial products and markets to determine  if this is the path you want to take  your career.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

I love the buzz of working in global financial markets, and the trading floor is a stimulating and dynamic place to work. It’s exhilarating when you successfully convert a large FX transaction, or when you close a large interest rate hedge – and it’s this thrill which drives me.

Is there a downside to your job?

The job itself can be high pressure, and it’s important to balance this in healthy ways – such as through exercise. Also, obtaining a role in financial markets can be competitive. It’ll really help if you have obtained relevant industry experience. This may mean putting your hand up to volunteer, or thinking differently about how you can hone your skills in order to have the best chance of success.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a law student?

  • Do whatever you love to do as often as you can. For me, it’s being outdoors, whether hiking, skiing, or being on the water.
  • Travel as much as you can during university.
  • A Law degree provides a great foundation and transferrable skills across several industires – so find a job or area that you are passionate about, whatever that is. As the old adage goes, if you do what you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life! 

 Learn more about working in this field, jump to in-house and corporate legal practice or the Banking and finance law overview.