A lot of charity work goes on in the City. As a reader of square mile you’re probably fully aware of this, but from the perspective of the general public nothing happens in the financial world other than Faustian pacts with the devil. And lunch.
So, this new column is a response to the public image of the greedy ‘banker’. Each month we’ll be speaking to an individual working in the City who has taken it upon themselves to work towards a good cause. And we’re not talking about donating a sum of cash either, it’s the people who take the next step and who have given up their free time.
I spoke to Parvoleta Shtereva, an emerging markets credit trader at Goldman Sachs, about raising money for injured Royal Marines by taking part in a four-night, three-day, High Arctic survival expedition.
The expedition was a taste of the Royal Marines Mountain Leaders course, and involved travelling to the small Norwegian town of Lakselv where the average temperature sits at -20˚C. (Before you factor in the bitter Northerly winds, that is.) To give you just an idea of what those conditions are like, any bare skin will start suffering the effects of frostbite in a matter of minutes.
It wasn’t just the harsh weather with which Shtereva had to contend. The days were filled with activities including cross-country skiing with military kit and equipment, ice climbing, and driving skidoos. The nights were spent in the comfort of snow holes and living off what fish they managed to catch, along with some basic military rations.
However, Shtereva doesn’t consider herself an athletic person and says that she became involved with the Arctic Challenge by chance. “I was reading the Telegraph and I saw something about a previous fund-raising expedition that the Royal Marines had done. I thought it was a great idea for an amazing cause but when I went on the website I saw they were far away from their fund-raising target so I decided to donate.”
It was through this that Shtereva found out about The C Group, a charity that supports Royal Marines who have received long-term injuries while on operations by raising awareness within the business community.
The challenge was auctioned off at The C Group’s inaugural London fund-raising dinner last year. While previous challenges had been auctioned off, this was the first to be used to increase awareness and raise additional funds. “I felt very strongly that this was the kind of experience that could actually raise awareness and raise additional funds, and so we bid for it at the auction and won it,” says Shtereva.
Of the eight people taking part in the challenge, five worked for Goldman Sachs. Over the next seven months they got to know the Marines they’d be working with and began training to get ready for the expedition. “One of the reasons we trained so hard is because we wanted to do it properly and we wanted to be challenged,” Shtereva explains.
“We initially thought we’d raise something like £30,000 but then we were all out for dinner and we were speaking to the commanding officer of the Royal Marines Reserves who told us about the people the money would be helping. I think that was the moment that for the guys it turned from a physical challenge into a fund-raising venture.”
The fund-raising target then went up to £100,000 but once the team had raised £50,000 it was raised again to £150,000. The amount raised in the end was actually £250,000.
“For us it wasn’t just the fact that we were raising money, it was that we spent time getting to know the guys we were helping. It was an extremely rewarding experience to take part in and investing some of your free time in something like this makes your year worth it in a completely different way.”
If you know of anyone who you think should feature in this column contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s C Group fund raising dinner is due to take place on the 4 October at the Intercontinental Hotel, Park Lane. To find out more, visit thecgroup.org