June 08, 2020

My Experience Managing Billions of Dollars in Transactions Every Day

Today, I am writing my first blog post. As a writer, I have a lot of stories to tell and some of them are true events in my life. I will share them with you here in this blog.

I have had a lot of stressful moments in my life. Today, I will talk about one of the hardest jobs I have ever had: Working as a Team Lead at Money Market in 2012.

Working as a Team Lead at Money Market in Montreal for one of the major Canadian banks was probably my most stressful job. To give you an idea of what that entails, Money Market can be described as contributing to the economic stability and development of a country by proving short-term liquidity to governments, commercial banks, and other large organizations. Also, investors with excess money often invest their money in the Money Market to earn interest.

To further put this into perspective, let me quote one of the messages my team received from management:

“I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize you for the way you handled yourselves in the face of adversity this past Monday. When $1 Billion worth of CD transactions were modified minutes before cut off, you showed determination and commitment to the customer by finding a way to get things done outside of the usual workflow, on top of an already high-volume day. You worked collaboratively, delivering results, making things happen, and leading us higher, and we sincerely appreciated that fact. Bravo on a job well done.”

While that feedback was appreciated, I am sure that each of my team members was holding their breath until all of the transactions were put through successfully that day.

It was easy to see that this job was stressful. During my time working there, two members of my team were taken from work by ambulance: One for pain in the liver and another after collapsing at work. As a Team Lead, I felt responsible for the well-being of my team members and worked very hard to improve their working conditions. This kind of environment clearly was not sustainable and I frequently approached management with ideas to make positive improvements.

For my efforts to improve working conditions, I was recognized by management with the following message:

“Johanne, I would like to thank you for taking the initiative to lead the discussion on an action plan for the Money Market Team. Good employee morale is critical to the success of our team. Your insight into the issues that matter most to the team will enable us to put appropriate action plans in place and make a positive change this year.”

One of the issues that mattered the most to the morning team, who started their shift at 4:00 AM to accommodate the overseas time difference, was that they did not have a night premium as some teams in other departments. They had been asking for this for years with no success. Thankfully, I was successful in influencing management to accept this demand and it helped to improve employee satisfaction a great deal. To thank me for my efforts, I received this message from management:

“It is my sincere pleasure to recognize your efforts this past quarter and name you Quarterly Top Performer. Your willingness to lend a helping hand with a moment’s notice, day after day, make you an invaluable member of the team. Congratulations Johanne, you are a team player by excellence!”

In addition to working in a stressful environment and spending a lot of my time trying to improve working conditions, I also had to hold leadership accountable. Here is another note from my manager:

“One of the most difficult parts of our roles as leaders is consistently holding people to task. That responsibility is even more difficult when the person you need to hold to task is your immediate supervisor. You showed great courage this week in helping me realize that I had gotten off track. I truly appreciate your input and was impressed with how you handled the situation. Bravo Johanne on a job well done, you have inspired me to do better. Keep up the good work.”

Looking back, I can definitely say that I do not miss this job. If I was asked today to work there again, I know I couldn’t handle that level of stress. However, I am thankful for this experience. I am proud of what I did to help improve the team’s working conditions and alleviate some of their stress, even if it was a small contribution.

What are some of your most stressful jobs? How did you cope with them? Let me know in the comment section below!

- Johanne Levesque

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