Paul is an incoming management consultant at Bain and Company. Before that he was an investment banking summer analyst at RBC after declining an interview at Goldman Sachs and founder of a food delivery company called Dine Easy. He is currently in his final year in the honours business program at the Ivey Business School.
In this episode we talk about why he chose investment banking and consulting and if he was chasing prestige or doing what he genuinely enjoyed. We talked about how he feels when people say “you only got an opportunity because you’re black or because you’re a woman”, why he left banking to join consulting and much more.
- “You’re doing banking and consulting, the two most stereotypical, cliche business school careers. How much of that is your genuine passion versus doing it for prestige/clout?” — 32:25
- How do you feel when people say “you only got that because you’re black” or “you only got that because you’re a woman”? — 14:15 [highlights]
- Why he turned down Goldman Sachs and Moelis interviews to work at RBC — 14:00 [highlights]
- How he got an investment analyst internship at Scotiabank after just first year in university — 9:36
- Why he moved into consulting and left banking? — 20:40
- Banking being a good old boy’s club, having to conform and leave his identity at the door — 20:00
- “This is without a doubt The craziest week of my entire life…” — 26:00
- How he got the investment banking job at RBC — 13:00
- How he got the management consulting job at Bain — 21:05
- How he knew consulting was right for him and the consulting interview process — 35:35
- Where do you see yourself 1, 5 and 25 years from now? 37:40
- Why did you start Dine Easy and what did you learn from its successes and failures? — 42:09
- Paul’s LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/paulokundaye
- Tomiwa’s twitter, @tomiwa1a: https://twitter.com/tomiwa1a
- Atila TV Instagram, @atilatech: https://www.instagram.com/atilatech/
- The scholarship Paul won to get the RBC investment banking role: https://atila.ca/scholarship/rbc-capital-markets-diversity-scholarship
- Paul’s Application for the RBC Scholarship: https://atila.ca/essay/OkPaul/rbc-general-and-capital-markets-diversity-scholarships-2017
- The Two books that Paul is currently obsessed with:
- Factfulness — Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World: https://amzn.to/2Oi8jpu
- The Order of Time Book: https://amzn.to/2Oi8EZi
- Gates Notes: https://www.gatesnotes.com/
Consulting and Banking for Prestige versus Passion and Interview Prep
Tomiwa Ademidun: Now I have to ask you this. You’ve doing banking and consulting, the two most stereotypical, cliche business school careers. So my question now is how much of you going into banking and consulting is just doing what everyone else is doing, all the other smart people are doing it, sort of doing it for “clout” versus it being your genuine passion and something you enjoy?” — [32:25]
Paul Okundaye: 100% and that’s a teeter totter you have to be real with yourself. With banking again, I realize now that hindsight is 20/20 a lot of me going into banking was #1, I love math and I love whole= problem solving, analytical stuff. I actually enjoy that part of banking, building the models.
But I realized that on the whole I was mostly going into banking because it was the most prestigious job and this is the thing people starting to discuss now is Prestige chasing just for the sake of it. “Oh I’m going to do banking because it’s the quote top job’ for someone coming out of business school. You can make the same argument for consulting as well.
I genuinely think I’m a lot happier with my choice for me specifically. Again, this is something that is person dependent. I have a lot of friends who are going into banking who absolutely love it. One of my coworkers at RBC this summer we used to call him the banking robot, he’s in the program at McGill that only accepts like 20 people, Portfolio management program. So this guy loves it, he asks to stay at late as possible. So if that’s you, screw what I’m saying, screw what everyone else is saying, do it. You need to be real with yourself and I realized that wasn’t me. There is diminishing marginal returns on the nth dollar when you get to a certain point.
I actually did the math obviously before I switched into consulting. I looked at my pay cheque from RBC and the hours I was working and I looked at my paycheque from Bain and the hours I would be working at Bain and it was proportional. At RBC I’d probably be working around 90 hours, at Bain around 60–70 and the pay ended up being proportional.
TA: But that’s entry level salary. With banking, long term you make more money.
PO: But my point though is that the grind part is at the entry level. Once you’ve Done your two years in banking it gets easier. But you’re selling yourself for two years. Don’t fool yourself it’s a tax, You have to accept that. Do I like it enough that I’m willing to pay that tax. That is something where I was real to myself off where I said I would rather have my weekends off and take less money and leave the office every day at 7 or 8. Instead of leaving the office at 11, 12 1am
TA: But on the consulting part. We both have a lot of friends that want to go into consulting, MBB not so much they enjoy doing it but all their friends are doing it. All the smart people are doing it. So for you how much of you going into consulting is because it has a lot of clout, it’s going to look good on my LinkedIn, versus consulting is what I enjoy doing? [35:15]
PO: Don’t fool yourself there is always a base level of I need to progress, I want to go to business school or I want to be successful and knowing a brand name MBB on your resume helps. But at the same time, the key part and the distinction for me why I knew that consulting was right was the interview prep process. SO preparing for banking versus preparing for consulting, I actually enjoyed preparing for consulting and that was the key part for me.
For banking I needed to learn how did I build a DCF and all that stuff. Banking it’s just like recall. Its deterministic, its 1+1 =2, there’s always a right answer. But consulting by definition you need to be a jack of all trades.
How I prepared myself was that I lived downtown when I was working there for the summer. So when i walked home from work, i would see a business and try to analyze it from the outside. Based on how many people are in there right now, it’s 7 o’clock, I look at this neighbourhood, this is the traffic flow, is this a good business. Now I can’t turn by brain off , but I found I really liked that process.
Or even doing case interviews, I would do a practice interview with someone, they would give me a business case, I would use my problem solving to figure out is this the right option for them. I would make mistakes and learn from them. That process was how I knew I actually liked consulting. Because if I was just doing it for the clout chase and I didn’t like it, I would have done it anyway. I would have been like this sucks, this prep sucks but I have to do it for the prestige. That’s how banking was. That’s how I realized that I didn’t like the prep for banking, I was good at it but i didn’t enjoy. That’s the distinction for me.
You Only Got That Job Because You’re Black
Tomiwa Ademidun: You mentioned the diversity scholarship. One thing that’s controversial right now is the idea of “you only got this because you’re black” As someone who got a job through the diversity program. How do you feel when people make comments like that. [13:55]
Paul Okundaye: Well I tell them that I turned down two interviews at Goldman Sachs LA and Moelis and Company LA. I had the interviews, I knew I didn’t want to work there. Actually, let me put it this way. For me personally, I don’t like the united States, I couldn’t see myself living there long. So initially when I was looking at these banking jobs and I networked with Goldman and Moelis, my thought process was. Okay, it’s pretty stupid but I’m going to get a job in LA so I can do the “LA flex” for the summer and then come back to Toronto full time. Then I was like if I want to come back to Toronto full time , where’s the best bank in Canada to work for? RBC.
My Goldman and Moelis interviews were set for August and I signed for RBC in July. When I ended up getting the job I thought, How stupid would I be if I turned RBC now just go “flex in LA” for the summer just to try and come back to RBC again next year. So with the whole diversity affirmative action. People say you get this job because you’re this or you get the job because you’re that. Well, how many other opportunities did I not get because I’m black or did I not get because someone saw my name, that looks like a complicated last name you’re [resume is]going in the no pile.
I’m not saying it’s a perfect system but its the reality of the situation. Like I said earlier, life is not fair. We all get dealt the poker hands we get dealt with. Some of us have to use our uncles because we have those uncles. People like me that don’t have those uncles, this is ur way.
What are You Currently Obsessed With?
TA: Now we’re coming to the last part of the interview. There’s a question I like to ask called what are you currently obsessed with? This can be anything. It can be a new workout at the gym, a new Youtube channel, a new Instagram, a new restaurant, a book, podcast anything. What are you currently obsessed with? [48:15]
PO: Definitely a book. The last book I read, no the current one but the one before that. I read a lot, I’m a voracious reader. One of the last books I read is called Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Bill Gates has this website called Gates Notes and I’m a follower of that and every year he publishes the best book of the year and that was one of those. The book talks about Factfulness and ten reasons we’re wrong about the world is. Ten reasons why the world is better than we think it is. Humans tend to have this negativity, nostalgia bias. Every generation says in my good old days and we always tend to think the world was better than it is now. So unfortunately this guy died recently, but he was a scientist of Sweden who went to the top of his career and presenting to the who is who of why they are all wrong about the word. So he’s giving key facts. So let me ask you if the average man right now goes to school for 10 year,s how long average woman goes to school for?
PO: Nine. Exactly, so these are the things he talks about. Or what do you think the literacy rate is for children in developing countries. 20%, 40% or 80%.
PO: 80%. Not to pick on you, I was wrong on all them too. So this is the format he presents the book in. He will posit this question to you and show you why your negativity bias is wrong.
TA: Yeah, because all my answers were all negative than the actual answer
PO: Yeah, so that is a cognitive bias we have. The book doesn’t just talk about facts, it talks about how can you navigate this post truth era we live in. How can you contextualize and use facts and knowledge as your weapon. It was fantastic, I highly recommend it . Factfulness, by Hans Rosen
TA; I’ll link it. What book are you currently reading now. W
PO: Currently I’m reading The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli.
TA: What’s the best way to reach you?
TA: We’ll also link your LinkedIn because that is very public facing.
Closing General Advice
“If you are already the person that you want to be today, then what are you striving for?”
TA: The final question, I’m still working on this question, so bear with me. I will ask two questions, pick which one you want to answer. Paul at 16, what would you tell your younger self. Or you can answer from the perspective of someone watching this right now, piece of advice you want to give them. [53:15]
PO: I think I’ll go with the second one because I’m mostly happy with how things have turned out. In terms of anyone watching this. I’m going to assume you are between grade 12 to second year. That’s the vantage point I’m giving this advice. Because I feel like I’m not in any position to give anyone my age advice, what do I know?
For grade 12 to second year, get involved! Get involved , get involved, get involved. It doesn’t matter what it is, find something you’re interested or passionate about and make an impact. It’s not enough to be a general member. It’s not enough to be a “researcher” and attend meetings. Find somewhere you can make an impact where you can get that feeling. Like I did when i went home and I laid down and I said, wow I just did something, I just made a difference. That feeling you can’t fabricate it right. Don’t think about I’m doing this to get the resume, the resume and the professional experience come after you get that feeling not before. Don’t put the horse before the cart. Do things because you’re interested in them because you make an impact and feel good. Then that impact will help you succeed. Don’t do things because you want to succeed. Make an impact and then you’ll succeed.
TA: You know how you said you wanted to do three things when you graduate. I think you should add a fourth one, motivational speaker. That was fantastic advice. Also, to add on to what Paul said, that advice does not only apply to people in high school or university or younger than Paul. At any age you’re in, even if you’re working a full time job, get involved in the community, get involved in things you’re interested in. It will always be useful to you down the line
PO: And be a lifelong learner. Never stop you have to constantly keep iterating because I’ll repeat what my friend said to be because it really stuck with me. So at Ivey we have this scholarship called the Entrepreneurship scholarship and I was fortunate enough to get one. Zak, who we both know. Everyone had to give a 3 minute speech and he said this and it really resonated with me, “If you are already the person that you want to be today, then what are you striving for?” You have to be a lifelong learner, you have to constantly improve, constantly iterate, then make an impact.
TA: Well said, Paul thanks for joining us men
PO: Thanks for having me, this was great, I hope it was great for you guys as well.
TA: We’ll catch you guys on the next episode of Atila TV, peace!