What can you do if you harbour a desire to become a poet, but don’t want to live a stereotypical life of angst and poverty? Try joining an investment bank.
Nomura has just hired Alla Bashenko as head of origination and sales for Russia and the former Soviet Union. She’s also a writer, having published a collection of children’s poems called The Magic World (not to be confused with the E. Nesbit stories) and Gray Dreams, which is aimed at the adult market.
Before Nomura she had been working at Goldman Sachs – most recently as head of fixed income, FX, commodities and equity derivatives sales and origination for Russia/FSU, where she said her “childhood passion for writing grew stronger”. Nomura confirmed the appointment.
Bashenko is a classic case of hedging your bets at university. She went to Brown, which is not a bad way to get the attention of a top investment bank, and got a master’s degree in both international economic relations (the best way to secure a finance role) and literature, which would have helped her poetry ambitions. It also helps that she speaks seven languages - English, Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Both of her books, she says, are inspired by the “search for happiness”. The Magic World’s “universally positive poems are filled with energy and spark of Alla’s words”, according to the promotional material, while Gray Dreams is a “search for a better world within oneself through poetry”.
Bashenko is also heavily involved with Gift of Life, a charity that aims to fight childhood cancer through both medical means and “working with children through art”. “Healing through poetry and art” is a “central theme” in her work, she says.
There are other examples of budding writers who have managed to combine it with a career in financial services. Elizabeth Corley, CEO of Allianz Global Investors, has written a series of detective novels with the central character of chief inspector Andrew Henwick, while Stephen Frey – a former investment banker at J.P. Morgan and private equity managing director at Winston Partners – has written 18 novels, primarily set in the financial world.