Saul Butt
MSc Business Analytics
UK, British
Undergraduate education:

King’s College London – BSc Business Management

Job after Imperial College Business School:

International Trainee Program (Real Assets) Aquila Capital

MSc Business Analytics (on campus, full-time) 2017

Academic and industry experience before Imperial

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Prior to the joining the programme I had gained experience working within the Financial industry. The experience ranged from Investment Banking to a Crowd-Funding start-up. The common theme I observed throughout all of these experiences was the requirement of better data management and empirically assisted decisions-making.

Studying MSc Business Analytics

Why did you decide to study MSc Business Analytics and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

I wanted to develop more technically focused skills to complement an undergraduate degree in Business Management. I felt obtaining these skills was a forward-looking decision that would equip me to undertake the type of data-driven analysis that many organisations are currently seeking.

The MSc at Imperial was a clear choice for myself, not only due to its great reputation and rigorous teaching standards, but additionally that course’s focus was primarily on developing practical skills requested by companies. This means that upon graduation all students of the MSc Business Analytics course were prepared to assist in detailed technical projects and create value in their respective firms.

What makes MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School unique?

The MSc in Business Analytics course was developed in collaboration with a strong corporate Advisory Board and is positioned within the Business School. These two aspects mean the course is focused on equipping students with the skills they need to become valuable members of a firm or work entrepreneurially on cutting-edge research projects. Further, the programme looks to offer insight into a far greater range of topics and analytics tools than comparable courses.

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

Primarily, I enjoyed the pace and demands of the course. Coming from a relatively un-technical background, the extreme progress in coding and understanding of mathematical concepts over a short period of time was a great opportunity. In addition to this, the diversity of the cohort was a huge bonus to the programme. The range of skills and backgrounds made for a highly collaborative and team-oriented culture. Finally, the constant application of the techniques we were being taught on real datasets has provided me great confidence to apply these methods independently in the future.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Learning to code with minimal prior experience was a daunting task. However, with the appropriate dedication and time commitment, it is possible to reach a standard of writing efficient and reliable code. Despite being a sizeable challenge, I now see having the ability to code as an extremely valuable skill.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Personally, I found the Machine Learning module extremely interesting. The programme is curated such that each module builds on-top of the prior courses, with the Machine Learning class combining technical skills with statistics and optimisation. This module offered us insight into new tools that allow for cutting-edge insight into datasets.

Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

My favourite guest-lecture this year was given by a quantitative hedge fund manager in the early phases of setting up his own company. This was organised as part of an exceptional Big Data in Finance Module by Tarun Ramadorai. The guest lecture gave us full insight into his business in regards to his costs, datasets and trading methodologies.

This was closely followed by a guest lecturer focused on epidemiology. Within this presentation the lecturer discussed how she had contributed to stopping the spread of Ebola and Foot and Mouth Disease through using very similar methodologies to which we had been learning in the Network Analytics module.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite Professor on the programme was Wolfram Wiesemann, who led the Optimisation and Machine Learning modules. He has a particular talent for simplifying and explaining complex ideas, with a very adaptable teaching style (although his in-class quizzes were particularly difficult).

Your cohort

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment, whether it be group assignments or class discussions?

This style of work has many benefits as well as challenges. For myself, I learnt a great deal from the Computer Science and Engineering students. Reciprocally, I think that the more technical students developed their business understanding and presentation skills, which are of equal importance in becoming a Data Analyst. This collaboration in terms of sharing knowledge and ideas continued throughout the programme and supported the teaching in the classroom.

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

There was a huge mix in terms of the represented nationalities, cultures and interests present. This made a really interesting dynamic where people were open to sharing their strengths to help others, of which I think everyone benefited. Beyond that, I had a great time getting to know everyone and will look forward to staying in touch in the future.

Opportunities from studying at Imperial

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?

Imperial’s educational mandate is to focus its research and teaching to develop world leading solutions for problems faced in industry. Due to this companies are extremely interested in the skills offered by Imperial students, which has provided a platform to meet many interesting practitioners over the course of the year.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?

In general, Imperial is full of highly talented and ambitious people. Having the opportunity to spend time sharing ideas and thoughts with this diverse people has led to me learn about and consider a range of problems I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Career goals and jobs

How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?

The Careers Service is an integral aspect of the Business School. They gave me significant time and support in my search for a job. Their services include proof reading CVs and cover letters, giving mock-technical interviews and providing access to practitioners through their personal networks among many other benefits. Without the department’s assistance I would not have got the job I secured.

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

In the future I want to utilise my empirically focused skills to adapt and improve decision-making processes concerning investments within the highly information asymmetric Real Asset sector. Imperial has given me a great boost in entering the industry and acquiring the skills for developing interesting insights required in the investment processes.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I received a summer internship at Aberdeen Asset Management and a full-time position at Aquila Capital, an investment Fund based in Hamburg beginning in October 17. Within both roles I will hold an investment position, which is precisely what I aspired to before the start of the course.

I secured the internship through the typical application process, of which the Careers Department were invaluable in proof reading and advising on my CV and cover letters. For the full-time offer I was initially contacted through LinkedIn, before completing a telephone interview and assessment centre in Germany.

Within the full-time role, I will be working on developing investment models and research to support the investment of capital into infrastructure and sources of renewable energy.

Life as a student in London

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? 

Throughout the year we had a succession of great guest speakers and companies come to talk to us. This I believe would only be possible in a global city such as London. Further, the diversity of firms from emerging start-ups to well-known institutions meant that everyone should be able to meet practitioners or similar minded people in their search for employment or creating their own company.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I lived in Pimlico, which is a five-minute walk from Victoria station. It is extremely convenient to live close to the campus if possible to cut down travel times. However, a large proportion of the class lived in West London, such as Fulham and West Kensington, which are similarly convenient locations and made it easy to socialise with the cohort away from the university.

What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?

The vast majority of my weekends over the past year were spent either in university or working at home. The course requires significant amounts of time to be dedicated, not just to complete assignments, but to really get to grips with topics. In retrospect however, all of the time I spent on the course I feel was more than worth it from the amount I’ve learnt and the opportunities I now have.

Having said this, when time permits, there was always at least one classmate in the student union and plenty more to see when exploring the city.

Advice for future students

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the programme?

Make sure you’ve got a real interest in learning about cutting edge analytics and developing your programming skills because you’ll be spending a lot of time on it over the year. Further, you should be willing to work long hours, but this is expected on any top course and university. In accordance with this being well organised means that you can maximise your time outside of working on the programme to succeed on your job search and enjoy living in London.

Most importantly however, I would stress the importance of getting to know your cohort. Having the ability to share ideas about university tasks or jobs makes the experience much easier and enjoyable.

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions? 

Prior to the course I was quite proactive. I listened into Webinars relating to specific industries I was interested in applying to, met one of the course representative from the previous cohort and went to a campus tour where we could speak to some of the lecturers. This put any concerns I had about undertaking the programme to rest and made the process of joining in September relatively simple. So I highly encourage preparation prior to applying and joining.

MSc Business Analytics
UK, British
Undergraduate education:

King’s College London – BSc Business Management

Job after Imperial College Business School:

International Trainee Program (Real Assets) Aquila Capital