1) Brief Introduction to yourself and what you currently do, and what your main interests are.
“My name’s Clifford Ellis and I’m an Investment Analyst at Legal and General Capital. I’m currently in the Urban Regeneration team (Specialist Commercial Property), but over the last 3-odd years I’ve had stints in Venture Capital, Clean Energy and Listed Equities. My interests are pretty normal! I like playing and watching football (and am a long-suffering Arsenal fan). “
2) If you went to university, what did you study and why? What’s the story behind it?
“I didn’t go to university. “
3) What were some of the challenges you faced with entering the role you are in today?
“The biggest challenge was getting my foot in the door. I was lucky enough to have my first proper role at JP Morgan Asset Management via Investment 2020 which is an excellent programme for those looking for their first job in the industry. I feel like it was definitely harder to get a role in the industry as, while the programmes are open to school leavers, I was competing against graduates for a lot of jobs. It’s tough enough as it is for graduates but there is definitely a dearth of programmes dedicated to candidates like me. That being said I’m glad to see there are more and more programmes opening up to those who don’t choose to go to Uni. “
4) How do you ensure you bring your authentic self to work/in everything you do?
“That’s a great question and the honest answer is I don’t know! I think bringing your true self to work is a tricky one as it’s a very different setting to the ones you find yourself in in a personal capacity. I guess it’s very team dependent and I’m really lucky to have a lovely group of people in the team I’m in. As a tiny example, during the lockdown, my hair got really long and I personally don’t like it when my hair grows out without at least a shape-up, so I took to wearing a durag. I didn’t even think twice about going on work calls with it, which is a testament to how comfortable I feel with the team. Apart from one or two innocent questions when I first started wearing it, I got no comments or side-eyes (to my knowledge). When we, as black people, change our accents, dress as smartly as we can and feel like sometimes we need to tread on eggshells it felt nice to be able to be myself. I know people may say “is the bar that low” and maybe they’re right but for me, it was a tiny example of how the world is slowly moving on. “
5) What type of legacy do you want to leave behind?
“I think ultimately, the biggest legacy you can leave behind is how you’ve treated people and what you’ve achieved in your life. I don’t know what my achievements will be by the time I pass on but as long as my children, family, and people I encounter think of me as kind, a person who tries, and a good friend/colleague/dad then I’ll be happy. “
6) What makes you proud to be black/ what are you proudest of regarding your heritage?
“So many things! To name a few our increasingly mainstream UK cultural relevance, the variety of fields in which we are now being represented in and our refusal to let the status quo of discriminatory behaviour continue. Specifically, I’m Zimbabwean by heritage and my grandfather was very actively involved in the liberation struggle against colonial forces, culminating in him becoming the General Secretary of one of the larger Trade Unions. I’m pretty proud of his bravery and commitment to freedom although I don’t know how proud of me he’d be for working at an old British Financial Institution!”
7) Any tips for upcoming kings and queens, that don’t quite yet see the crown on their head?
“Believe in your sauce. Don’t let rejection and lack of quick success discourage you. If you’ve done the work and remain consistent and persistent you can do anything!”