Sunday, August 08, 2004

London today

The interview for the job for which I was learning the S+ went very well, and there is therefore a good chance that I will shortly be going to work in a quantitiative team in the equity research division of on of the world's largest banks. (Although one never knows, of course). The London based team I would be joining presently consists of a Greek, an Indian, a Romanian, a New Zealander, a Frenchwoman and (yes, really) and Englishman. I would be the only Australian in the team, but one of many working in financial markets in London. In fact, if things work out there will be two people I worked closely with in my last job in Sydney with who I will be working with occasionally, although they will be on different teams to me.

This is finance in London today. It has long been the case that the city is full of colonials from the ex-dominions, and for a few years the IT departments have been full of Indians, and we are now seeing the Indians spread to other parts of the businesses as well. And we are just beginning to see a few eastern Europeans. London is full twenty year olds with slavic accents working in basic service jobs, most who will probably be well paid professionals in a decade's time, and these are just starting to move up too. There have been eastern Europeans in IT departments for a while, too, although they are not as pervasive as Indians. They tend to be of type "guru" though, being concentrated amongst UNIX system administrators and things like that. The UNIX administrator who knows things about the operating system that no mere mortal should not know about, who is probably named Piotr or some variation thereof, and who has an accent that makes him sound like Count Dracula is something of a cliche in computer circles, and has been for a while. (The User Friendly comic stip parodies this cliche endlessly).

In any event, though, this is a sign of a broader trend, I think. Very international cities like London attract ambitious individuals from lots of places. The "economically successful minorities" from poorer countries tend to come in large numbers, too. Sometimes they do this because things get bad in the country they previously lived. Sometimes, though, I think they just come because it is simply less of a hassle to be a member of an economically successful group in a country where there are many economically successful groups (and where there is no poor majority group. And in a way there seems to be relatively little difference from groups who come from countries where they are an economically successful minority and those who come from somewhere like Australia, who come from countries with large middle classes and good educations systems, and who demonstrate a certain amount of initiative by self-selecting themselves and choosing to come in the first place. There is quite a distinct (and definitely prosperous) minority of Australians in London, who have, for instance, a reputation for being hard working. Getting responses like "Oh, he's an Aussie. That means he'll work hard" is definitely a good thing.

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