Tuesday, 23 February 2010

EDI -> LHR ; KingsX -> Waverley

It now feels like a very long time ago, but here's what went down in London town at the end of January:

Wednesday 27th
Headed down south for my RBS assessment centre on the 06:30 flight, driving past RBS's "head"quarters at four in the morning... Don't see why they can't do some of their assessment centres in Edinburgh; it would have made my life a lot easier! Shame all the trading floors are in the City... Got into central London in time for two large coffees and a sandwich before heading to New Broad Street.

I walked in to be greeted by a small sea of black suits - I was one of only two girls out of a group of twenty students. They wasted absolutely no time in getting started and sent us off in two separate groups. My first exercise was to review four financial/business opinion pieces and make a five-minute presentation (including a poster) for my 'boss', in 40 minutes. Yes, you heard me, I had to read four two-page newspaper articles and make a five minute presentation in the space of forty minutes. I then went straight into my first 30 minute one-on-one interview to give my presentation and then have a Q&A session with my interviewer. Swiftly followed by another two 30 minute interviews, a 40 minute data-analysis test and then a 30 minute numerical-analysis test. I didn't even have time to go to the toilet (I had to sacrifice some of my test time to go and spend a penny!).

As expected, I much preferred the interview section of the day to anything else. Two out of three of my interviewers were really friendly and nice to chat to. I got asked some absolute corkers though:
What is 7! (seven factorial)?
What is the square root of this? (All mental arithmetic, I should add...)
How many trees are there in Canada?
How many piano teachers are there in London?
Thankfully, I have done these type of 'brain teasers' before so wasn't too taken aback!

We then got a wee tour of one of the trading floors in their Broadstreet office. IT WAS HUGE. I couldn't quite believe the scale of this place compared to the trading floor in Tokyo, which at the time I had thought was quite big!

After being awake from 4am and enduring five and a half hours of assessment centre, I could barely speak. So my mum and I (she had come down with me for some retail therapy) headed off to China Town for some good grub.

Thursday 28th
Headed to Promontory Finance Group's London office in Devonshire Square to say 'hi' to the team there. I got to meet pretty much everyone who works in the office (currently a small team of 10 people, although they are looking to expand to about 40 this year) and they were more than welcoming. The risk management based consultancy work that they do sounds really interesting and varied and they seem like a fantastic company to work for.

I then hopped on the tube to Westminster, avoiding all the non-existant extra security in place for the Chilcot Enquiry (there was one helicopter hovering overhead, that was it) and made it in plenty time for my Expert Group Meeting. We spend the vast majority of the meeting going over the fianl draft report, working out how it was going to be formatted, which bits to emphasise and which bits to discard. A few of us, myself included, have written 'example boxes' to add some personal anecdotes. Hopefully, it will be published quite soon - I will be sure to post links on here when it goes live.

After the meeting, I met up with my mum to wander around Liberty for far too long, and we then headed for dinner at Joe Allen's (my 'old' favourite place in London).

Friday 29th
My day off! This was my opportunity to buy all the things from Topshop Oxford Street that aren't available in the Edinburgh shop :)

After getting in a fair amount of shopping, we headed to Sketch on Conduit Street for some afternoon tea. This was quite possibly one of the best ideas my mother and I have ever had. The place is out of this world! It is my new favourite place in London. The building was recently bought-over and renovated into four different restaurants and an art gallery (if you watched the most recent series of 'Master Chef: The Professionals' it featured in one episode). The whole place is so eclectic and surreal that you half expect a member of Cirque du Soleil to cartwheel down the entrance hall as you wait to be seated in 'The Parlour' (and, after soaking up the atmosphere and decor for five minutes, you wouldn't be the least bit perturbed if they actually did...). The afternoon tea was delicious and very reasonably priced for what we got:

I am very aware that this is turning into a food blog again, but it was too good not to mention!

The attention to detail in this place is second to none and no effort has been spared anywhere - not even in the toilets, which are Swarovski-crystal and glass-bead encrusted. This sculpture was just chilling outside the Ladies:

Needless to say, we got so carried away by it all that we ended up missing our train home. Oops.

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