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Access Alternatives

Improving gender balance has been a priority for financial services recruiters for many years and, unquestionably, progress has been made.  However, there is so much more that can be done.


In certain areas of finance, like Private Equity, the greater challenge is that at the entry-level, many female candidates and those from more diverse backgrounds, are simply not aware of the career options or regard the industry as opaque, elitist, too hard to break into or simply ‘not for people like them’.  If things are to change we must commit, invest early and open up access.

What We Do

We work with State schools across the UK – because we are aware that privately educated candidates have often had better access to career advice, are more likely to have friends or relatives in finance and may have developed the skills required to network effectively, dress correctly – put themselves forward as confident, capable contenders for top jobs.

The women we focus on may not have benefited from that exposure - and given that State school pupils outnumber privately educated by 12 to 1 -  this is where we focus our attention. From experience, we know that female and diverse candidates may perform less well, struggle technically or otherwise lack the commercial ‘acumen’ and polish our industry requires.

Working with our partner schools, we identify female candidates who have the intellect, motivation and curiosity to benefit from our programme but would otherwise be highly unlikely to access careers in our industry.



Our first cohort will be 50 participants.  We hope to expand this as we grow and make links to firms across the Alternatives sector.  Our participants have been selected in their final year of A’level (or equivalent) study.  Over the course of their first year with us, they will begin a programme of learning via our Coaching team and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments.

Modules include:

  • Career preparation

  • Fundamentals of Financial Services

  • CV preparation

  • Interview skills

  • Personal branding

  • Confidence building and networking


CISI Corporate Finance & Capital Markets Qualification

Later in their first year at university and on into the second, they will be paired with a Mentor from one of our Sponsor organisations.  Mentors commit to spending one hour per month helping to guide their mentees through the foundation to the third level of the CISI qualification in Corporate Finance.  Participants can also access online learning resources, network with other participants and review an array of easy to understand articles and podcasts from around the Alternatives industry via our technology platform.


What do we ask from you?


  • Provision of one mentor per programme participant

  • Provision of one Summer or Easter Internship lasting 4 weeks for a first-year student

  • Provision of one full Summer Internship for a second-year student

  • One-off sponsorship fee per participant

  • As a registered Charity we are able to accept donations from Charitable and Philanthropic Foundations - both corporate and individual.  Please contact us to discuss this option.

By the time your student arrives for their second internship, they will be well advanced through the CISI qualification and will have learned how to build a financial model in excel (via our tutors).   In addition, they will have benefited from 2 years of networking, coaching and learning from our coaches, training platform and events – and indeed one another!  In other words, they will be on a more level playing field with their (male or privately educated) competitors on Summer Internship programmes.

Should you then wish to offer a full-time graduate position, there will be no fee to pay or further commitment.


Meet The Team

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Vivienne Machado

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Viv is a Partner at Wilkinson Partners and has 25+ years’ experience in recruiting - including being head of recruitment for Blackstone and Soft Bank Vision Fund in recent years. She is passionate about inclusivity and pipelining and supporting female talent

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Nadia Osgood

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Nadia has extensive experience in recruiting early career talent. Working first at Morgan Stanley and then moving to Deutsche Bank she is now a career coach for young aspiring professionals and over the last 15 years has worked for a wide array for financial services organisations as a coach, consultant and recruiter.

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Georgina Norbury

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Georgina is a coach and careers mentor within our programme. She spent 8 years as a ‘campus recruiter’ at Morgan Stanley before becoming a consultant and working for many investment banking and asset management clients. She works with university careers services to market financial services opportunities for her clients to students across all disciplines.

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Heidi Plant

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A seasoned investment banking recruiter who was Global Head of Early Careers at UBS for many years. More recently Heidi has consulted for a plethora of organisations on their early career strategy - and coaches, interviews and prepares candidates for their first steps in to the world of work via internship programmes.

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Sarah Ingram

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Sarah is a passionate early careers recruiter and has 20+ years’ experience working in the investment banking and financial services sector as an in house recruiter and consultant. She coaches candidates applying to internships and insight programmes to help them perform to the best of their ability.

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