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Hear My Story: Reggie Nelson

Category: BAME, black history month

Graduate Analyst

Legal & General Investment

As part of our Black History Month celebrations we are talking to role models from the UK BAME community in order to offer an insight into their lives as well as help advise candidates and employers on how best to represent and encourage equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“Play the game but don’t lose yourself.” Reggie

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey 

I’m most recognised by the media as the young man who went ‘from East London to the City’. On my journey, I completed five internships at various asset managers and a hedge fund in the city, the most notable being BlackRock and Aberdeen Standard Investments. I hold a BSc in Economics, studied Mandarin alongside my degree, and have recently completed a short leadership programme at the University of Oxford, which was centred around finding the next BAME future leaders.

I am currently a Graduate Analyst at Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), working in the fiduciary client and investment teams, Group Chair of the ACCA Emerging Talent Advisory Group, Founder of K3D – a social mobility enterprise, and a youth mentor for one of the largest youth networks in the U.K. I have previously worked with the Cabinet Office, as they continue to address ethnic disparities in higher education, and in the workplace, and in 2018, I was described by the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, as a “persistent and inspiring young person”.

The biggest challenge I faced was trying to decipher which career path I was going to pursue. Previously playing football at youth professional level, I was always set that football was the route I was going to take, but, after giving football up at the age of 17, not knowing what I was going to do was my lowest point. Saying that, it also led me to go and do something that was crazy and innovative – knock on doors for career advice. After spending three hours in the wealthiest area in London, knocking on their doors, I knocked on the door of a senior executive at BlackRock, which is how my journey into finance started.  

My proudest moment was definitely being invited to meet the former Prime Minister, Theresa May. I randomly received an email, saying that I had been requested by the Prime Minister. I went to participate in a round table discussion, had a one to one with Theresa May, and then continued to do some more work with the Cabinet office. We are still in touch and have catch-ups today. 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Nelson Mandela is someone who will forever inspire me. I can only imagine what he had to go through, and holding strong to values that he wholeheartedly believed in is a clear demonstration of the tenacious character that he beheld. I am a big believer in that the hardest moments create the best stories, and he is the epitome of that.

Lord Michael Hastings is a BAME figure that really inspires me. He is a mentor, friend and is almost like an uncle figure to me. For anyone that knows Lord Michael Hastings, the first word that comes to mind is ‘caring’. He is always looking to help people, so much so, that he dedicates his house, once a month to mentor over 100 young black men from all different walks of life. 

What do you do at work to affect positive change, influence decision makers, or improve the lives of those who may feel under-represented in the BAME community? 

At LGIM, we have various different streams to help drive and impact positive change, one of them being the ethnic diversity stream. We invite young people who are under-represented from both an ethnicity and social standpoint, and provide them with the visibility that they can achieve anything that they want to. Visibility, so that they won’t allow virtual barriers to impede them from making the jump they need to make to conquer their goals. Aside from work, I actively help mentor around 60 young people, predominately from a BAME background, and help them to achieve their goals. I help to revamp their CV’s, provide interview practice, invite them to my office, provide one to one advice and help to debunk any societal myths they may have about why they can’t achieve something. I dedicate just under 10 hours to this per week.

What advice would you give to BAME candidates entering the job market in 2019? 

The best advice I can give is, play the game but don’t lose yourself. Quintin Price, my mentor and former Head of Alpha Strategies at BlackRock said it best. “In any hypercompetitive environment, where you’re a minority, you have to play the game to a higher level, in order to prevail, because you’re educating people to overcome their ignorance and their prejudices, and those prejudices exist, we wish they didn’t, but they do. So where they exist, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, both of us who are lucky enough to be in the majority and those who are in the minority, but have an opportunity, to prove the nay-sayers wrong, and to set an example to the next generation that makes this a more equal society.”

What advice would you give to employers/ recruiters/ business owners, to make life better and improve opportunities for BAME candidates?

I honestly just bring it down to decency. There are so many talented individuals out there, who will never be able to have a fair crack at changing the trajectory of their life, simply because of lack of opportunity. If we want to make society fairer and level the playing field, then we need to be ready to cast the net further and give these talented people a shot. When I give a talk at corporate institutions, I regularly hear “we need more Reggie’s”, and although this is humbling to hear, the truth is there are tons of people like me out there, it’s just that they do not have the visibility to the opportunities and a lack of social capital. I had to literally knock on doors, in order to obtain this visibility, simply because it is not given (for various different reasons).

I think it starts with having a reason to care, because only when employers, recruiters and business owners see there is a need of more diversity, is when the genuine positive change can really happen. Diversity in people brings a vast range of ideas and ultimately results. Clients are changing and becoming more diverse, the demands for clients’ problems are changing and becoming more complex, and access to information is becoming more available to a wide range of people, so a business’s approach to solving these problems need to change as well. Casting the net further to attract a wide pool of talent, will be crucial to solving these issues in years to come, and will also help level out the playing field, for those that didn’t have the visibility to have a decent opportunity to change the serendipity of their life.

Any other weird or interesting anecdotes or facts about you that may be of interest to our readers?

I once co-hosted the deal or no deal show with TV star Noel Edmunds, which is online if you want to validate!

Contact

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Reggienelson_10

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Reggienelson_10/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/reggienelson/

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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