At Citadel, we are committed to providing you with a career roadmap that sets you up for success no matter where your career takes you. Through a new series, “My Career Roadmap,” we want to help you make decisions about your career – based on insights from our team members. We’re pleased to introduce in our second profile Paul Jefferys, senior trader at Citadel. Paul joined Citadel only two months ago with an impressive background and was recently named one of TRADE’s Rising Stars of Trading and Execution. In this profile, you may listen to Paul discuss what it was like to start his career at UBS the day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, how Citadel’s “technology DNA” and “quantitative narrative” drew him to the firm, and how his expectations prior to his first day aligned with his actual experience. Read below for highlights, lightly edited for style, from our discussion with Paul or listen to the full interview here:
You’ve had an interesting career. You worked at UBS for nine years and started the very day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Tell us a little about your career leading up to Citadel.
In nine years at UBS, I, along with another current Citadel team member, helped build a quantitative trading business in Europe, and then pivoted and built similar businesses in Asia and the Americas. That was really exciting because I got to understand how markets work in different places, and believe it or not, some markets are quite different when you look out across Europe, Asia and the Americas. By the end, I was managing 25 people globally, which was not what I think anyone would have expected having started day one as a graduate.
Can you tell us what you were trying to achieve with your career when you came to Citadel and what was most appealing about the opportunity at Citadel?
If you look at the way the world and markets are going right now, everything is becoming a lot more technological. Similarly, things are becoming a lot more quantitative and complex. If you look at Citadel as a firm, they’ve got this technology DNA in the firm, they totally get the quant narrative, and they’re a hedge fund. For me, it felt like I was playing to my strengths coming to Citadel because what I want to do is – build a great trading business, built on having really good technologies, excellent quant models, and smart colleagues.
Was there anything that you thought would be challenging as you started your career at Citadel?
I’d heard that the Citadel culture was very different than at a bank. I wasn’t sure, at first, how collaborative everyone would be given their levels of responsibility. But everyone has been very helpful in helping me get up to speed. They’ve been keen to make time and to help me understand how things work at Citadel.
Tell us a little about what those first 30 to 60 days at Citadel were like. You mentioned your peers have been helping you get up to speed onboarding. Can you just tell us a little about that experience
My experience has probably been a bit unusual, because I’m actually relocating to Chicago. So I’ve been having sort of a dual life where I spend a lot of time in London, because I have a wife and a little boy in London, and I don’t want to miss them too much. I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the U.S. because the people I’m going to be working with are all based in New York and Chicago. The point is that I’ve had the opportunity to get up to speed in an orderly fashion. I’m appreciative of that.
What would be one piece of advice that you would give to those who are going to follow in your footsteps and join a firm like Citadel in a trading role?
Be proactive about learning how the systems and technology work. In my previous role, I had kind of grown up with the systems and the technology. So it had always felt quite natural and organic. Whereas here, coming to a new firm, it has been a bit of shock as I had to come in and accept that I’m not going to understand everything on day one. I worked really hard to get up to speed with all the systems and technology. It’s just a level of proactivity about forcing yourself to learn and re-learn.