Manya Klempner is the co-founder of Moose X-Training, a new training boutique inLondon. The Columbia MBA, has worked at top investment banks such as Citi andMerrill Lynch and even did a stint JP Morgan Moscow, before eventually startingher own business. We talk to her about her new life as a business owner andentrepreneur.
What's "The Moose" in a nutshell?
Fitness for people who don’t like fitness! Weall know exercise is good for us. We all know that in order to look good,as well as feel good, it’s important to exercise. But, let’s berealistic, even the most accomplished and disciplined among us often struggleto incorporate fitness into our lifestyle; I know I do. I often say, injest, “I’m perfect, but I suck at the gym.” Moose X-Training, with ouremphasis on convenience and affordability, is perfect for people like me. Having a personal trainer, whether privately or semi-privately, is thekey to maintaining the commitment to fitness for those of us who aren’tnaturally fitness-inclined but still want to be fit. As a result, I nolonger waste money on a gym membership I rarely use. There are no moreexcuses about being too tired or not having enough time. In short, Idon’t feel guilty about not exercising; with a standing appointment with mytrainer, that’s something that is always “ticked off.” I love that!
How long has the business been running and what areyou hoping to achieve in your first year?
We launched the 5th of November in 2012, so we’re onlyabout six months old. We launched into the longest and coldest wintermost people can remember. It’s been a challenging start. However, we takegreat pride in knowing that we are doing something right - our client retentionhas been excellent; 100% renewal. I would much rather build a solidclient base slowly than a fickle client base quickly. With the former, theclients become annuities, so we can focus on growth rather than managing churn.By the end of our first year, I would like to have a stable base of regularclients that is 3x what it is now.
You studied your MBA at Columbia - what were thehighlights?
I loved my courses, especially the ones on FixedIncome, but the most important part of my experience was the people. Thenetwork business school offers, both from a professional and a personalperspective, is one of the most valuable aspects of the degree. Mostskills one learns on the job. I would encourage all MBA students to reallyoptimize the time they invest in developing personal relationships.
Post-MBA you worked in derivatives at several big-namebanks like Citi and JP Morgan - can you share some of the best and worstexperiences of working in finance?
I focused on CEEMEA emerging markets with aconcentration on Russia, Kazakhstan, and Central/Eastern Europe. The deals wereby far the highlights. When emerging markets were booming, the notional sizeswere huge, and the sophistication of the structures was so cool. It was anexciting time to be on a trading floor. Post crisis, the banking environmentchanged considerably, and as banks took on stricter internal and regulatorycontrols, it became nearly impossible to do deals anymore. The derivativesbusiness became less about helping clients mitigate risk and all about managingthe internal politics. More and more people were empowered to kill deals ratherthan enable them. The harder it was to do business, the sharper the elbowsbecame. Going to work had been fun; it was now a grind. The industry hadtotally changed, and for the worse. It had become a soul crushing affair and itwas time to get out.
What would you say to current MBAs considering acareer in capital markets?
Capital markets are no longer what they once were.There’s a very steep learning curve at a bank which is useful, but the heydayis definitely over. Make sure you’re sincerely interested in the field and notjust in it for the money!
What inspired you set up your own business?
In banking, I had always had to build and to developmy own client base, so even though I worked at a large com...