Discovering Julius Baer through the eyes of a theoretical physicist

Lea Kraemer Gabriel completed her PhD in Quantum Information Theory before joining the Julius Baer Graduate Programme. Now an employee of the Risk department, how does she perceive our organisation? Discover how a theoretical physicist navigates Julius Baer.

Lea completed her Master’s degree in physics and philosophy at Oxford University in 2011. In the same year, she applied for a PhD position in the Quantum Information Theory group at ETH and moved to Zurich. She spent five years on her research project. However, during this time she noticed that she didn’t want to pursue her entire career in academia. An applied risk management course at ETH determined her choice to search for jobs in this area. The Julius Baer Graduate Programme stood out because it gave her the additional chance to understand the world of finance and banking as a whole. “Moreover, Julius Baer is very diverse. You meet people from different backgrounds such as computer science, banking or communications. In academia you are mostly surrounded by colleagues who all studied the same subject for almost all their academic and professional lives.” So how does a theoretical physicist navigate Julius Baer?

It’s a fast-paced environment – structure the data
“I am still somewhat a physicist in the sense that I try to understand a topic on three levels: global, in some detail, and then in the ultimate detail,” Lea explains. The ability to structure large amounts of data proved to be very useful to the Zurich-based Market Risk team, with which Lea completed her first assignment.

Implied volatilities of shares are an essential part of the pricing models of equity derivatives. A new process had to be implemented to monitor these volatilities. Lea was asked to specify the project, the approach that should be taken, and implement a solution. “We solved it by tracking how these volatilities change over time and built a tool that detects if there are any unexplained changes. This tool is still in use to lead discussions with traders.”

Travel the world – and connect the dots
Participating in international conferences, establishing relationships with subject matter experts and collaborating across faculties are essential skills in academia. The international rotation of the Julius Baer Graduate Programme led Lea to the Singapore office from July to December 2017 to work in the Credit and Risk departments.

“The teams are smaller which makes everything more personal. On my first day, I already got to know colleagues from various teams. Moreover, food plays a more important role compared to Zurich. Lunch breaks in Singapore were sometimes organised like team events.”

During her assignment in Singapore’s Risk team Lea worked on a suitability project. The team regularly performed sample checks on pre- and post-trade suitability. “My task was to complement these activities with a more data-driven approach. Can we see irregularities? Do patterns emerge?” Lea’s analysis helped the Singaporean Risk team to gain an in-depth understanding of the landscape of trades and the suitability of investments for clients.

Towards a successful future at Julius Baer
“In my final assignment as a Graduate within the Treasury department, I was given the chance to learn more about the Bank’s finances and accounting. This helped me better understand the Bank’s business from a global perspective, so that I can continue my learning journey – as both a theoretical physicist and Julius Baer employee.”

Lea now works as a Risk Analyst within the Market Risk team in Zurich.

Further information

Are you interested in learning more about the Julius Baer Graduate Programme? Our dedicated Graduate Programme Manager would be delighted to provide you with additional information.

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