“It was one of those moments when the stars align and you think ‘this is what I’m meant to do’”

As the first recipient of the BMO Scholarship for Women in Metals and Energy Finance, Dasha Shalashova has found the peace of mind and experience she needs to take her career to the next level.

Dasha Shalashova and Bill SmithDasha began her career in finance, but in recent years wanted to combine her finance background with her growing interest in mining and energy. When she came across Imperial’s MSc in Metals and Energy Finance, it seemed the perfect fit. Established in 2006, the Master’s course is a one year, full time programme jointly convened by the Department of Earth Science and Engineering and Imperial College Business School. The course combines study of financial analysis, strategic management and applied geology to give students a valuable understanding of the financial and strategic elements of metals and energy projects.

Dasha was awarded the BMO Scholarship in 2015 and is the first recipient of the award. The scholarship is sponsored by the Bank of Montreal’s Equity through Education Program, which aims to foster greater diversity in the finance industry and expand educational opportunities. This new award, developed with Imperial, is the first that the Bank has made outside of North America.

For Dasha, the stability that the scholarship offers is invaluable, allowing her to concentrate on her goal of becoming a commodities trader. “Being able to solely focus on studying and not worry about paying your rent is a great thing,” she says. “The scholarship really helps me make the most of my studies, which is the reason I am here.” The scholarship also enables Dasha to stay in London, where she has lived for many years. “It ticked two boxes for me. I was able to study at Imperial, one of the best universities in the UK, and I get to stay in London. That was important. All my family are in Russia, so to study elsewhere and lose my friends and connections would have been very difficult for me.”

Dasha has also had opportunities to learn directly from BMO staff, who she says have provided constant support throughout her studies. In February 2016 she was invited to attend BMO’s 25th Global Metals & Mining Conference in Florida, where she saw first-hand how the knowledge she is gaining in the classroom is applied in industry. “BMO have been great,” she says. “There has been so much support. The conference was an extra bonus; it really showed me what I can do with this degree.”

Bill Smith, Head of EMEA, BMO Financial Group said: “BMO is very proud to provide Imperial College London’s Scholarship for Women in Metals and Energy Finance. BMO is committed to supporting diversity in education, global financial services and the Natural Resources sector.”

“It all comes back to peace of mind” says Dasha. “Knowing I have financial security and access to an excellent education and career opportunities, all while living in London — it’s fantastic. It all comes together in this programme and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”