Nandini Ramakrishnan, Global Markets Strategist at J.P. Morgan

 

Meet Nandini Ramakrishnan, Global Markets Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. She co-authors the Guide to the Markets and other key Market Insights publications relating to macroeconomic and market dynamics. Nandini provides research-driven outlooks for retail and institutional clients based in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. She embodies an incredible sincerity and humility and shares with us her journey of finding passion in her work, of moving across the globe, and of connecting on love and empathy with her family. Read on to learn more.


The Beginning

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“My sister and I developed close friendships with other kids in our big, colorful diaspora community. We are so grateful for the rich, vibrant youth culture we grew up with.”

“Both my parents are from Tamil Nadu, and their identity is very much rooted in being Tamilian. They each moved from India to the U.S. for higher education and met in Boston, which is pretty cool, because many of their siblings and others in their generation typically did not meet their partners abroad.

They settled in the Chicago suburbs where they raised me and my sister. We lived in a nice suburban town, attended a big high school and participated in sports, musicals and other activities after school.

We also attended Chinmaya Mission and did a lot of Indian classical music and dance. We always hosted Navarathri in our house, frequented the temple, and loved watching Tamil movies. It always felt seamless to come back from soccer practice at night and head over to Tamil class the next morning - we were able to blend our American and Indian cultures together well. My sister and I developed close friendships with other kids in our big, colorful diaspora community. We are so grateful for the rich, vibrant youth culture we grew up with.”

A Budding Market Strategist

“In high school, I really liked my science courses, particularly chemistry. I liked the logic behind it and the feeling of experimenting live in a lab. My mom is also a chemistry professor, and she further sparked my interest in the subject.

I was also really involved in speech and debate. My event was extemporaneous speech, and through that experience and coursework, I started to understand economics a bit better. My dad is an accounting professor and he’d always extol the virtues of business and finance, so that got me interested in that world.

I leaned towards economics as I applied to college, and The University of Chicago stood out to me as having a great economics program and really emphasizing “the life of the mind.” On one of the accepted students days, I saw people talking about Bob Dylan and East Asian philosophy around the dinner table, and that curiosity really resonated with me.

As I entered my junior year, I knew the internship scene was pretty competitive, so I didn’t have too much of an expectation going in. I ended up getting an internship offer with J.P. Morgan’s asset-backed securities (ABS) team in Chicago, and returned to that team full-time upon graduation. Within the ABS team, I worked on writing macro reports for our clients, and became particularly interested in how current events were impacting the markets.”

 

From Chicago to London

“Knowing I was really interested in financial markets and working abroad, I expressed my interest to my manager and she encouraged me to keep an eye out for open positions on our internal mobility website. I started checking the website every few weeks, and one day, noticed a posting for a markets analyst role in London.

I contacted that team, had several interviews, and three months later, I was on a flight to London! I didn’t have any family or friends there which was a little nerve-racking, but I figured I’d take the chance and try something new. Now was the perfect time to take risks, as I knew it would get harder to do so in the future once I had other obligations.

Given that I was starting a role somewhere so new to me, it was almost easier to prioritize my work and focus on crushing my first six months at the job. I’d spend my free time reading and acclimating myself with various market topics, and wanted to work hard and prove myself from the onset.

I also had get out of my comfort zone on the social side. Some of my friends back home knew people in London, so they made introductions for me and I’d ask to grab coffee or a drink and get to know them. I met loads of people (probably 15-20), and about five of them have really stuck and become some of my best friends.”

Growing and Scaling at Work

“As a Global Market Strategist, I often make TV appearances and provide outlooks relating to macroeconomics and market dynamics. I definitely don’t take this responsibility for granted.

About a year after joining the team, my team needed someone to comment on a specific topic. I’d been looking at the topic pretty closely and had enough in-depth knowledge, so I was asked to represent our team. I only had one day’s notice and was nervous, but luckily I had colleagues coaching me and prepping me for unexpected questions I may be asked. I still remember the heart-pounding sensation of stepping in front of the camera for the first time! I do still have a sense of nervousness with this even today, but I think it helps me stay on my game and never get too complacent.

In terms of women in the workplace, I think we’re seeing an extremely palpable shift happening right now where companies across multiple industries are making efforts to promote voices that haven’t historically been heard. My team at work also has many senior women whom I admire, and I think diversity, in all meanings of the word, is a topic that won’t be going away.

Sometimes my industry may have a preference for a more traditional or older voice as an economist, which makes me feel like there’s a higher bar for me or that I have to prove myself a bit more. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on - I’m still here and going to deliver that answer as best as I can, backed up by the facts.”

Bridging Generations

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“I’ve learned that in most scenarios, your parents love you and want what’s best for you - it’s just that sometimes the methods to get there may not align and cause friction with what you believe.”

“I have to give my parents a lot of credit. They had a very “you do you” attitude for their kids, and we never really clashed much growing up.

I’ve learned that in most scenarios, your parents love you and want what’s best for you - it’s just that sometimes the methods to get there may not align and cause friction with what you believe. Don’t just say “I don’t want to do that,” but really try to understand the core of your differences and have a conversation about why you’re disagreeing. At the end of the day, your parents are your biggest fans and do everything out of their love for you.

It’s also helpful to find experiences and activities you can share together with your parents that are in both of your realms. For example, I love music and going to kutcheris with my mom, so we make an activity of that. My dad enjoys rudram and chanting which I appreciate as well, so I’ve picked that up with him. We’ve found things we like in each other’s worlds that have helped us connect even more.

Sharing more about your life is also a great way to help your parents understand your side. I love talking with my mom about dinner parties and events I go to, and it’s so nice for her to ask questions about those things as she didn’t really have that kind of social life in her 20s. It’s also been great to bond with my parents about what it’s like to move to a different country at this stage, which they did decades before me.”

On relationships…

  • I totally understand the pressures Indian women face around getting married - you’re safe for a few years out of college, and then there’s a suddenly a shift where all the aunties start asking you when you’re going to get married! I’ve had relationships that I’ve been open with my family about, but I think this pressure is something we continue to push generation after generation. My grandmothers already had kids by my age, my mom got married by my age, and now our generation is pushing it a bit further. I don’t get the pressure from my parents as much - they understand that I can control my career and intellectual pursuits a little bit more than meeting the right person at the right time. Again, I’m thankful for my parents for being open and supportive of that.”

On de-stressing…

  • “I’ve found yoga to be absolutely great for my health. My teachers create a warm, friendly environment and I love connecting with the scriptures or spiritual references they explain in our classes. I also love exploring new restaurants, brunching, hanging out with friends and taking weekend trips across Europe.”

Just for Fun

 
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