Deepika Pyla (Mathematics 2014) is a trader at a hedge fund for a global macro portfolio in the United States. While studying at the College, she was Treasurer for Imperial's Mathematics Society, one of the largest student societies with approximately 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate members, Vice President of the College's Finance Society, and Representative of the Department of Mathematics.
We caught up with Deepika to find out more about her time at Imperial and how her degree has helped her in her career.
Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?
I was initially signed up for the four-year MSc but once I knew I wanted to go to the US for a Master's in Finance I moved to the three-year BSc. I have the fondest memories of my final year at Imperial (even taking into account the exam pressure) as I took a broad range of courses and was able to explore everything the department had to offer.
Like with many things in life, you get the most out of the experience if you can also put in the energy on your side. The courses can be very daunting and the average incoming student is not used to feeling like a small fish in a big pond. It is a humbling experience but one that can build great resilience – a characteristic that is crucial moving forward in life regardless of one’s destination.
My experience with the dynamical systems group at Imperial exemplified this. As long as I worked to show up to the office hours with well-defined questions, the professors always responded with as much time and detail as needed to help me. I even went on to do a UROP summer research placement with Professor Van Strien due to us building a rapport during office hours. Furthermore, Professor Turaev was willing to teach us Bifurcation Theory with less than a handful of students attending – looking back I cannot believe how personalised a learning experience this was!
What is your fondest memory of your time here?
Playing frisbee and picnicking with my classmates post second-year exams. By this time, we had gotten to know each other well enough that there were people from all friendship groups represent. Nothing matched the comradery and group joy we felt having finished exams.
Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
I am a trader at a hedge fund for a global macro portfolio. I look at economic and political themes in developed and emerging markets to come up with investment ideas. I then execute these trades and try to balance them such that the portfolio as a whole has the best risk to reward ratio and cleanly expresses my and my boss’s views.
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
Completing the degree at Imperial gave me the confidence to take on goals that would have seemed unattainable before. The value of the Imperial Mathematics degree, in my opinion, is due to the challenges it faces but also how it teaches us to take things from the beginning, one step at a time, building understanding and intuition. Whenever I am overwhelmed, I know to persevere but also to step back and start from the basics of what I know. In my job, due to the informational noisiness of financial markets and frequent regime changes, it can often feel like a formidable task to navigate them. But starting small and building a process has enabled me to grow the confidence to persevere and learn.
What are your plans for the future?
To continue learning and growing.
What would be your advice for current students?
Try to take advantage of as many opportunities offered by the College as possible. End of the day, the value is in the people that make the establishment – students and faculty. Look into clubs, research opportunities, getting to know people in different departments and try to connect with alumni. I think I managed to develop a broad network during my time there and really was enriched by the international make-up of the people. However, I wish I had spent more time looking at what I could have done going forward post-graduation as just going off my peers the opportunities are endless.
What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?
It makes me proud to see the impact on the world that the College has, whether that be through helping with COVID-19 modelling, the achievements of our faculty or the broad range of amazing careers that my classmates have now built!