Finding opportunities in fundamental shifts

The millennial generation grew up in a time of tremendous change, which has made us accustomed to learning new things with little instruction.

Technology has progressed at an increasingly rapid pace throughout our lives, and we have always tended to embrace the efficiencies it provided. As we grew up, the home computer, high-speed internet, the iPhone and Facebook all changed how we learned and interacted with the world at a very quick rate.

Millennials are now reported to be the largest generation in the workforce. I feel that one of the strongest professional attributes of our generation is the ability to innovate and persevere through an ever-changing business environment. We are a generation that is accustomed to learning new skill sets and that deeply values utilizing them for progression in life and business. In some cases, these skills have been forced upon us out of necessity.

The events surrounding the global financial crisis had a profound impact as many of us entered our careers facing a strong headwind. Opportunity was scarce and competition high for the limited positions available. As a generation, we were forced to become comfortable with disruption and strategic in finding opportunities. Many turned to entrepreneurship with e-commerce platforms, YouTube and more at our fingertips.

In 2009, just as the economy was in the early stages of recovery, I was fortunate enough to find a position as trader in Chicago working the European shift on a futures desk. The hours were difficult, but it was an incredible opportunity. It was there that I again witnessed how technological and fundamental shifts present opportunities, and how to use strategic thinking to navigate change.

No longer was a majority of the trading volume executed on trading floors like the New York Stock Exchange, where traders transacted using hand signals and shouted instructions. Trading was transitioning to electronic trading venues. My colleagues and I saw the opportunities in this shift and were able to recognize and combat the market inefficiencies it caused so that we could adapt better and faster than our competitors.

Many opportunities that we come across in business come out of change and fundamental shifts. For me, uncertain times instilled an inclination for continual personal development and growth. This stuck with me through my experience in Chicago, where I learned that innovation and strategy are crucial to either create disruption or take advantage of it. The experience also taught me how important intellectual curiosity is, as it cultivates innovation and allows you to discover opportunity.

I was excited to bring those experiences to Ancora, where professional development is encouraged along with thinking outside the box and researching and presenting new ideas that can differentiate the firm and add value. These elements of business culture can help attract and retain the young innovators who tend to have an inherent entrepreneurial spirit.

To today’s young professionals facing a job market similar to the one I did — take advantage of the incredible amount of information available on the internet to sharpen your skills, keep learning and stand out from your peers. Use networking tools like LinkedIn to connect with individuals in positions of interest to you, generate conversations and express your interest.

Everyone was once in your shoes, so don’t be afraid to do the work to get to where you want to be.

Dante Iacozili, CFA, is vice president, head equity trader at Ancora