Nick Cheetham, Account Executive at First AML
A commerce graduate now helping grow the customer base of an exciting New Zealand startup, Nick shares some insight into his journey into the working world at First AML and how his initial idea of work being boring and repetitive could not have been more wrong. Enjoy.
Firstly, how would you explain to your Grandma what you do?
I work for a company that assists lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws. AML is where NZ companies must identify clients and their source of wealth prior to working on large transactions with them to ensure they are not using NZ companies to “clean” their money.
I am in the sales team so my role consists of a lot of calls, emails and meetings with prospective clients to inform them on how we can significantly decrease the administrative burden for their staff when it comes to completing the AML requirements.
“As a kid I always wanted to be a secret agent - not quite tech but I imagined using advanced technology to do my bit in stopping criminals.”
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid?
As a kid I always wanted to be a secret agent - not quite tech but I imagined using advanced technology to do my bit in stopping criminals.
More recently, I have had an interest in startups and the idea of being able to assist in the development of a company excites me. I would recommend listening to the podcast ‘How I Built This’ by Guy Raz. Guy interviews founders of large companies and breaks down exactly how they originally started with an idea and the steps they took which ultimately led to their success.
If you went to University, what did you study and why?
I completed my Bachelor of Commerce in 2018 majoring in Commercial Law and International Business, while minoring in Management. This took three years to complete.
I started out studying Law but quickly realised this was not the right path for me - the TV show Suits originally put me on the law track. I was still interested in the globalisation of companies, and the commercial side of law (patents, copyright, marketing, and property laws) and I thought by understanding these topics, it would benefit me in the future.
Tell us a little bit more about your journey into working at First AML?
A lot of it came down to always chucking my name forward for extra work. Putting pressure on my superiors for additional tasks when things were slowing down created some incredible opportunities. I was initially involved with AML at a real estate company and this is how I discovered First AML. I was impressed with the solution First AML offered and their vision for the future which is why I approached them.
“Discovering you can do little things that will significantly benefit others is rewarding - it now motivates me each day.”
Can you share some more insight into what that transition from University was like?
Going into work I had conflicting ideas of what it would be like. One part of me was craving some structure in my weeks, while the other part had created a mindset that working will always be boring and repetitive. I could not have been more wrong. Discovering you can do little things that will significantly benefit others is rewarding - it now motivates me each day.
What is it specifically that you like about working in tech?
That it is constantly developing - nothing is set in stone. Things are not looking to slow down and as technology advances, it provides opportunities to be a part of that development in new industries.
What gets you excited about First AML?
Opportunity. Each month will be different when you work for a startup. By having limited staff and resources, you can have a significant impact on how the company develops and how you can assist in the success of the company.
Lastly, do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?
Find out what you are interested in and work towards it. If you find a bottleneck or issue in anything you encounter, draft up a way to fix it. Start something yourself or find people who are already working on that idea who share the same goals as you, then put forward your interest.