Ex-Citadel MD in crypto: 'You don't need to be a DeFi expert'

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Ex-Citadel MD in crypto: 'You don't need to be a DeFi expert'

If you're interested in working in crypto and decentralized finance, but are holding back because you don't think you know enough about the area, then Nicola White, president of crypto market maker B2C2 in the U.S. has some advice for you: don't. It's perfectly possible to get a job in the crypto space and to learn as you go.

“You don’t need to know about every specific thing in the crypto space to work in crypto," says White. "But you do need to be able to learn and to pick things up quickly. We need to get this message out there: it’s about being able to augment your traditional finance skills.”

White herself joined B2C2 in July 2021 after five years at Citadel Securities and nearly 13 years at Morgan Stanley. At Citadel Securities, she was global COO of the FICC business. At Morgan Stanley, she was an MD and latterly head of electronic fixed income. "I’ve spent most of my career focused on improving liquidity in financial markets and evolving market structure to meet the needs of clients," says White. At B2C2 she's using technology to drive liquidity for institutional clients in the crypto space. 

While crypto has its fair share of crypto bros, White says it's wrong to presume that the industry is more male-dominated than traditional banking. “Having started my career as the only woman on a trading desk, today I see far more women in crypto than tradfi," she reflects. "In fact, our senior management team is 50% women, which is the most balanced team that I’ve ever been a part of.”

Unusually among crypto firms, B2C2 runs a graduate training and internship program for its traders. Applications are still open, but it's not easy to get into: around 350 people apply each year, and around three people are hired; they don't need a lot of crypto knowledge either. “Our graduate training program for traders is about breaking down some of the hesitation that students might have about going into a crypto trading role," says White. "You don’t need to know a lot about the space because we will offer you all the training upfront.”

Like any business hiring STEM-focused students, White says B2C2 is fishing in a talent pool that's disproportionately skewed towards male graduates. She says women in particular can be scared away by very technical job descriptions and that B2C2 is mindful of this when it hires: "You need to make sure your job description is broad enough that women will apply. If you have 20 bullet points and there are seven that they don’t meet then women may not apply for jobs. We want our job descriptions to be broad and inclusive.” 

Crypto jobs are an interesting option for male and female candidates, says White. “Crypto is a space that’s evolving quickly. It’s dynamic and involves brainstorming and problem-solving; you’re not only using a tech and quant skillset, but spending your days working on problems and coming up with innovative solutions. It’s a much more exciting and dynamic environment than a traditional trading desk.”

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