What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Having lived in three different countries, my work experience prior to Imperial College provided me a unique insight into various industries. My first taste of the financial services industry was at UBS investment bank at the age of 17 where I gained insight into debt syndication of bonds to emerging market sovereigns, supranational and agencies. Studying an international business degree in China lead me to spend a summer at Tirol China, an exporter of in-car accessories and automobile products where I would manage sales to international client accounts. Finally during my year in Tokyo I interned at Tullet Prebon (now part of TP ICAP group) where I worked with Western and Japanese clients as an inter dealer broker of yen interest rate swaps.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School after completing your undergraduate studies?
Being originally from the UK, I always longed for an experience to study in my home country after four years in East Asia, and Imperial provided the perfect opportunity to return to my hometown for a seamless transfer into my professional career. The Economics & Strategy for Business programme provided the harmonic balance of a quantitative education driven by global strategic thinking key to any internationally focused career. The opportunity to grasp finance technical skills benefited greatly, and Imperial College Business School Careers reputation was second-to-none. Moreover, I was highly attracted by the opportunity to work daily with highly driven, intelligent classmates who could challenge my thinking and enrich discussions. This network of friendships has helped me greatly in taking my next steps, and I am sure they will stay strong for years to come.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
Compared to what I had previously experienced, I enjoyed the smaller sized classes which catered for increased participation to enrich debate. As an inquisitive person by nature, I enjoyed the opportunity to openly discuss and clarify with professors, and even to challenge them when I disagreed. Having studied in two universities in Asia prior, I believe this open flow of communication is quintessential to fueling high quality education.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Having always had a keen interest in finance but never the academic background, I enjoyed Corporate Finance the most. I felt the more new technical areas I studied, the wider my interest in different areas of finance I built. Furthermore, I felt the professor competently covered a wide range of content in a very short space of time.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Because the wide spectrum of modules studied, you are likely to find many students re-studying familiar topics. Having come from a business background, certain modules in econometrics and accounting were difficult due to the steep learning curve starting from scratch. However, the primers given before the start of the programme do help reduce the knowledge gap to a certain extent.
How do you describe your cohort at Imperial?
I was fortunate to know a large majority of the class, including the Chinese and other Asian students due to my language skills. A range of nationalities is evident, however more so is a range of academic backgrounds and experience. A good cohort is underpinned by the quality of knowledge and experiences that are shared by the students, and I think the opportunity to gain interesting insights and build meaningful relationships throughout my time was an aspect I greatly appreciated.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
David Shepherd was a terrific lecturer for Macroeconomics. Unlike some, David’s delivery of his lectures was highly articulate, and it was very clear he genuinely understood the deeper mechanics and fundamentals of his discussions. David’s holds great stage presence and compels students to stay focused for the entirety of the two hours (whilst scribing away countless pages of notes). Such an understanding of one’s research benefits the student body greatly and I still use his lecture notes to this day.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
One principle I enjoyed by Ray Dalio is the importance of building interesting and meaningful relationships. Whether that be through school, work, or hobbies. I do not remember a lot of the content I wrote for my group work, but I will remember forever the bonds of friendships made in the group work, and they will be present for many years to come. You can only achieve at Imperial and beyond with a strong support system for both the best and worst of times; my group certainly provided me that.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Living in China and Japan restricted my ability to develop a strong business network in London, and Imperial provided me that and more. The opportunity to attend a company presentation and network almost every day for two months was exhausting. However, it gave me the opportunity to successfully gain various interviews and my dream job.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Go to events – even if they are of industries you may not have previously experienced or cared about. There is always something new to learn and I would recommend future students to attend as many as possible. Developing your skills and knowledge comes from your own motivation and inner passion. You must make your own luck.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I currently act as Student Ambassador for Imperial College Business School, I enjoy meeting with students and sharing insights into the programme, but more importantly giving my honest opinion and advice based on their goals. I also regularly attended university organised fintech/ block chain conferences, as well as Finance Society events which gave me a platform to befriend Imperial fellows with similar career interests.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Greatly, even before my MSc Economics & Strategy for Business began, I met two alumni from the programme now working in the City. I have regularly attended events, and built meaningful relationships not just in London, but in Tokyo and Singapore as part of the Imperial Alumni network. Joining the community was one of my key motivations to going to the school as you never know when you might need someone else’s help or expertise.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My career goals haven’t changed too much, I have known for a while which area of the financial services I wanted to enter. On the other hand, I have built a strong conviction that I do want international mobility and flexibility in my early career as I am a strong believer that a range of overseas experience is critical for career progression and encourage open-minded thinking.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme (please give details of roles you have accepted, what you will be doing)?
Yes, I received a straight to full-time BNP Paribas offer on their Global Markets Graduate Programme. I expect to do two rotations within sales (G10 Rates and FX Derivatives), then a rotation in the primary markets within Debt Syndicates.
How did the service from Careers help you secure employment and help in your professional development?
Significantly. I first went in August before the programme began to perfect my CV and cover letter templates, and I recommend future candidates do the same to get ready to carpet-bomb the market with applications when doors open in September. I also found it very useful in practicing how to confidently deliver competency-based answers.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, the London location helped more firms come to campus, and helped me attend various off-campus presentations and networking events. For example, I had smoothies with JP Morgan employees at one event which lead me to being invited to the 31st floor for dinner at their office and a subsequent assessment centre.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I choose to live at my family home in London for convenience. I also saved a great deal of money and was able to spend more time with them before working.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
I enjoy a quiet evening at the pub with friends quenching my thirst with local ales and bitter. As a Londoner, I rarely venture outside the comforts of Zone two.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
No I did not. I think it can be useful for students to find out more about how their can use the programme for the benefit of their long-term careers.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Have a plan as time is your biggest asset. The busiest term without question is the first and you need to build a comprehensive battle plan prepared to manage school work, socialising with new friends, societies and job-hunting. Attending events is key but you should have done most of your preparation before arriving in time for the milk round of companies begins. The year goes quickly and the relationships you build will be different to the ones in your undergraduate but equally meaningful. Also, be open-minded. A restrictive cognitive bias will limit your experience and you should strive to build as many meaningful and interesting relationships as you can. The majority of successful students did most of their learning outside the classroom by engaging the intellect and brilliance of their peers. The buzz of the classroom and positive energy generated by the sheer number of brilliant minds is what cultivates an unparalleled Imperial experience.