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A Day in the Life of: Nikolas Antoniou
Nikolas gives us an honest insight into how things have changed during lockdown for him at Propel Finance, which is one of the biggest independent corporate finance houses in Wales and employs over 170 people with its Head Office just outside of Newport.
I am a Business Intelligence (BI) & Analytics Graduate at Propel Finance; and we’ve been working from home for nearly 5 months now. I have been with Propel Finance since September 2019. I initially started as a Credit Graduate; and I only moved to the BI team at end of last May. I had no prior experience with analytics; therefore, it was a big decision for me to make given that the pandemic was already affecting our everyday lives. I must say, I am glad that I’ve made this decision. I really enjoyed my time in the Credit Risk department; however, I find that the BI team better suits my interests. The past 3 months has been a very challenging period for me as I needed to start from scratch. However, it was also a nice way to keep myself busy and avoid overstressing due to the unprecedented events.
The two main platforms currently used in the BI team are SQL and Tableau. I have only been with the team for the past 3 months, but it has been extremely busy as the company is growing at a very fast pace. Initially, I thought it would be very difficult to switch teams while we are all working remotely. Nevertheless, it did not prove to be the case; and the team has been very supportive. I have been picking up some major tasks such as preparation of monthly MI packs; and I have also been working on two larger ad-hoc projects. I started working on both projects while I was still part of the Credit team, however, the business has recognised the need for automation and I volunteered to contribute to both projects as I am already familiar with the data.
I keep my afternoons busy by spending some time on analytics training. I have also been able to pick up some old hobbies including cooking traditional dishes, reading books, playing/listening to music, and running/exercising.
Going for runs/exercising at Bute Park, Cardiff is perhaps the main activity that keeps me in the right mindset. When working from the main office, we all look forward to going home to rest after a tiring day at the office. However, you cannot really do that when your home is your office too. One way I combat this is by going to the park on a daily basis, either for a run or to exercise; or even for a walk. Up until today, I always look forward to my afternoon trip to the park; this is what helps me release stress and relax. I have always been into exercising and running, but I have not previously been able to do it on a daily basis due to long hours spent commuting. Therefore, lockdown has been a blessing in disguise when looking at it from that perspective. I have also been able to take part in the benevolent challenge “Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5”
Lockdown has been extra challenging for me as an international employee. I managed to keep in touch with everyone throughout this period over virtual quizzes and drinks, which was also another nice way to kill most of my time at night. I found the first couple of weeks of lockdown stressful and lonely but found that the most important thing was to communicate and figure out a way to help me keep in the right mindset. Thankfully, restrictions were partially lifted at beginning of July and I have been able to visit my family and friends for holiday in Cyprus.
In fact, the only thing I am now worried about is that I am getting too used to this new lifestyle and it’ll be a challenge for me when we are asked to get back to ‘normality’. I do miss the office environment; however, I equally like working from home too. Therefore, I believe a combination of the two would be ideal for the future!