Manj Bahra is living his best life. Since leaving JPMorgan in July 2021, he's lost weight, added muscle, got married and has been working all over the world. Dubai, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Las Vegas and Japan are just a few of the places Bahra has been hanging out in the past ten months. “When you work for yourself, you can choose where you work from. It’s been a real eye-opener for me,” he confesses.
It's a change from the eight years Bahra spent at JPMorgan in London after joining post-graduation from UCL. By his own admission, Bahra was part of the post-pandemic great resignation. He says COVID was a revelation: it made him realize that anything can happen. It also made him realize that he didn't especially enjoy his job as a product manager on the rates desk at JPMorgan. It wasn't what he wanted to do. “I just didn’t find my job as a product manager all that fulfilling,” he explains.
Ostensibly, being a product manager is an exciting sort of a job. “As product managers, we were running the trading app," says Bahra of his role at JPMorgan. "We’d talk to clients and create vision for the product they wanted and then go about bringing that vision to life.” In product, you can work in all kinds of jobs, and not just in financial services. “From being a product manager I could have gone anywhere. – As a product manager I could have moved to an Amazon or a Google," he reflects. Instead, he branched out into something entirely new.
Like Lucy Puttergill, a former VP of delta sales in London, Bahra quit banking and entered the world of coaching. "My real desire is to help other people," he explains. “The most enjoyable job I did in banking was when I worked in support for the futures desk. I was helping people and I got the adrenaline from being near the markets. It was great.”
When Puttergill quit JPMorgan in 2020, she wrote a long Medium post explaining her motivations. Puttergill said she suffered from imposter syndrome, that prestigious banking jobs were a way of masking her insecurities and - like Bahra, that the industry just wasn't making her happy.
Bahra too has taken to Medium, where he has nearly 4,000 followers. In a post last August, he described his banking routine as "savage" and unfulfilling. After retraining as a coach, he's found a whole new niche: helping people deal with relationship problems, unrequited love and patterns of repeated heartbreak. Heartbreak is an opportunity for transformation, says Bahra. Too often, in both jobs and relationships people are simply chasing validation outside themselves. Dealing with both issues means reappraising what you really want from life.
At JPMorgan, Bahra says he earned $150k, but that this wasn't the point: “If you’re not getting the fulfillment from a job, the money isn’t necessarily worth it.”
These days, Bahra coaches clients (including people in finance) via Zoom. Some have relationship troubles; some simply want to do something different. In the latter case, he says he takes his clients through three steps. "They need to get really clear on what they want from their lifestyle (think about where you want to be, not where you don’t want to be). They need to think about the mindset that’s required to achieve that (what’s holding them back and preventing them from moving forward?). And then they need to think about the action that’s required. It’s about taking small steps and making the vision become the reality.”
Within a year of leaving JPMorgan, Bahra says he's managed to replicate his banking salary (if not his bonus) and is liberated from a job he didn't really enjoy much. "It just wasn’t for me. I don’t think I’m very good at it to be honest," he confesses. "I’m not motivated by creating new products!”
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