Tarek Cheaib

Tarek Cheaib

About you

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

Prior to starting the programme at Imperial College Business School, I worked for BuroHappold Engineering for two and a half years designing low-carbon buildings and developing sustainability frameworks for various cities around the world. After that I joined a boutique consultancy for one and a half years to support asset managers in decarbonising their real estate portfolios and project financing renewable energy.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial College Business School?

Frankly I waited for about three years for such a Master’s programme to be created. Even to this day there is no other Master’s on the market that specifically focuses on combining climate change with finance. When I used to work at BuroHappold, our team used to do some fantastic work on minimising the impact of buildings and cities on the society. The sustainability strategies where ingenious and effective. However, several years into the industry I realised that much of the strategic decision making took place at investor level. Hence, many of the sustainability strategies developed specifically for that project were not implemented because the investor did the “budget” for such initiatives. This was mainly due to poor communication or lack of awareness on the actual financial benefits of pursing sustainability strategies (i.e. investing in green buildings and infrastructure). I want to change this by interacting directly with investors to support them in making the right financial decisions without compromising their returns.

Did you receive a scholarship?

Yes, from Imperial College Business School and the Lebanese International Finance Executives organisation. Without their support I would not have been able to complete this MSc. Given that my parents are not in a financial position to support me, I have had to rely on these scholarships to fund the programme but also work part-time throughout the entire master’s programme to be able to fund my day-to-day expenses.

Programme

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

I am biased because I have waited three years for such a programme to created. The balance between climate change science and finance was spot on. Every financially-linked module teaches you about the core elements of the topic, and ends the module by linking it to climate change. That to me was the most important part. It allowed me to be able to differentiate myself from others in the market. You learn about project finance but then understand how this links with financing renewable energy projects. Or you learn about corporate finance and how these translate to green bonds and climate risks.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The most challenging part of the programme has been really balancing out university-work-life balance. I spent 9am to 6pm on campus almost every day, except weekends. I worked part-time most evenings and weekends, and when I did not, I was probably trying to catch up with the programme work and job applications. It has had a significant strain on my personal life, but it was worth it as I am now slowly catching up with life. Sometimes it’s just worth making such a sacrifice, subject to you knowing it is temporary.

People

How do you describe your cohort at imperial?

The cohort on the programme was relatively young (avg. 23) as people were coming straight from their undergraduate studies or one to two years of experience. Although I’ve only made two good friends on the programme, I must admit that everyone is extremely smart, social and active on many fronts. I often felt energised by the people and intellectually challenged.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

I thought that the caliber of professors was extremely high. My favourites (in no particular order) include:

  • Mirabelle Muûls – her passion for her role as an educator, climate change activist and economist is inspiring.
  • Charles Donovan (Cleantech) – his knowledge, charisma and teaching style made his lectures extremely interesting.
  • Jose Tanaka (Climate Finance) – he brought a wealth of experience and passion that ultimately led me to pursuing a career in developmental finance.
  • Enrico Biffis (Risk Management) – extremely smart and knowledgeable lecturer that really dissected a difficult subject, making it easy to comprehend.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

To learn from the best. It is a great working environment with excellent ties to the industry. Like other universities in London, it is well placed to build strong connections in the industry but it also uses these well. One thing I would recommend is to be less humble of these connections and capitalise on Imperial alumni’s successes.

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

Many of the lectures include guest speakers and workshops. These should continue being an important part of the programme. You learn so much more when you hear people speak about their jobs, the projects they work on, and their industry experience.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community, including Imperial’s Grantham Institute?

A benefit of being part of the Grantham Institute was being connected to leading professors and PhD students who often taught us part of a module or presented us with their cutting edge and in-progress research. Likewise, the newly launched Centre for Climate Finance & Investment provided unique opportunities to attend talks by globally leading researchers.

Career

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

I hope to work either in development finance or climate finance. This programme has been essential in paving my way into this industry.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I am currently working for UK’s Development Finance Institution (CDC Group) in the Debt Team. There I am part of the climate finance facility that provides loans at concessional rates for companies in South Asia and Africa that focus on resource efficiency.

How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

Careers were extremely helpful. They provided me with contacts, reviewed my CV, cover letters and even gave me tips on which companies I should apply to.

Tips

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

Contact at least one person from the programme that can tell you a little more about it and their experience. It’s a huge investment you are making at the end of the day therefore you want to make sure it is the right one.

Tarek Cheaib

MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance 2017- 18

Nationality: Romanian/

Lebanese

Undergraduate Education: MEng Civil Engineering, University College London

Job after Imperial College Business School: : Investment Associate in Debt Team, CDC Group

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