Chemical Engineering, University College London
Business Analyst, Ion Group
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I have applied my engineering background during my work in the plastics and oil industry in my home country, Zambia. My experience in the safety and oil industry lead to a research opportunity with the UCL Chemical Engineering Department. My role involved investigating and understanding society's view of risk technology and the associated perception to update a study by Professor Paul Slovic called the “Perception of Risk”. It was a great opportunity to understand a side of chemical and safety engineering in further depth to what had been taught to us.
As I secured one of the highest grades in my undergraduate degree, I was given the chance to work for Prax Petroleum Ltd, London, and State Oil Surrey during the summer of my final year. I was involved, this time, in the financial operations of the oil industry dealing with invoice processing, data collection and logistics review. This internship showed me the importance of how finance and engineering working collectively to create a successful enterprise.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance & Accounting at Imperial College Business School?
I decided to study an MSc in Finance & Accounting as I wanted to open myself up to new fields that I have not explored before and diversify my skillset. I believe the programme would help me to gain a deeper understanding of financial markets and using the financial management skills learned at Imperial College Business School to carry out projects in real-life applications in any industry. Imperial has a reputable Business School that has opened doors for me to several companies and I am grateful to have joined.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
I enjoy engaging with peers and lecturers as they create an ambitious and career driven work ethic that makes you feel part of something bigger. The department has taken care of the students here with both academics and career-related activities to ensure you are prepared for life in the industry. I came from a non-finance background and Imperial has prepared me to cope with the level of content provided throughout the year.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I really enjoyed the elective Corporate Strategy and Dynamic Competition. The lecturer made the class engage with several case studies about various companies applying game theory, prisoner’s dilemma and competitive advantages to gain the edge in the extremely competitive industries they operate in. Game theory is something I have never looked into before, and now I apply it to everyday life.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
I think the most rewarding part of the programme is using what you learn in lectures and tutorials and transferring them to real-life work projects and job interviews. The programme has given me a deeper understanding of the Bloomberg Terminals, derivatives and how to mitigate risks in financial markets using these instruments.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part of the programme is balancing job applications with academic aspects, as there may be interviews that conflict on certain dates. However, this happens in any institution and the Careers service and academic department at Imperial College Business School have been very helpful in ensuring you are able to carry out both.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The cohort is one of the most diverse groups of people I have met in my lifetime. I now have friends from different parts of the world. The number of international people you meet at the Business School is unmatched and has given me the chance to understand and appreciate cultures worldwide. The diversity is also very admirable in terms of gender, having a 1:1 ratio between male and females. Imperial College Business School promotes diversity and celebrates it, which is something I commend.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Dr Raj Iyer was my favourite lecturer at Imperial, as he taught a very fundamental module which involved applying corporate finance valuation methods to real-life case studies. The module was called “Advanced Corporate Finance” and the class was engaging - he asked questions to promote discussion and gave further understanding to the field of corporate finance.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial is to be the Social Leader of MSc Finance & Accounting. It has given me the opportunity to create social projects with a team. It has also placed me in a leadership position, allowing me to delegate tasks and negotiate with external parties to ensure logistics run smoothly. During my time in the position I have been involved in a range of social events. I have organised trips to Winter Wonderland, end of exams socials, the first Finance & Accounting boat social event and I am a Class Representative for the Business School’s first’s summer ball.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I believe the Away Days in Canary Wharf have been very helpful in meeting with alumni from previous years, and the advice passed from them about interviews with firms has enabled me to obtain offers from various companies in London. The Leadership Day provided to SSC and Club leaders was also amazing, as there was a guest lecture called “Scratching Your Entrepreneurial Itch” which had an alumnus give advice on starting your own business or startup. I found the talk very helpful as it gave me insight into London being at the heart of entrepreneurship and the facilities provided by Imperial to make your dreams come true.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
In addition to my leadership role, I am part of the Sri Lankan Society at Imperial, where I actively participate in events . It has helped me to connect with my Sri Lankan heritage and experience Sri Lankan food far from home.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Being part of the Business School combines the best of both worlds. I can interact through societies with other STEM students on campus, which has helped me meet a wide range of talented and intelligent individuals from various backgrounds. I like to believe it is always great to make as many connections as you can whilst you are at university, as it is a rare opportunity to find this many people in one place.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I want to eventually break into the financial software industry, as financial technology is a growing field that enriches lives. I see technology as a crucial tool to financial investments and tasks in the dynamic world we live in today. The modules learnt during the course - in particular Topics in Fintech Innovation and Investment Portfolio Management - encouraged me to delve into the Internet of Things and Big Data further, as I think these fields are crucial to social activities and working in the corporate world.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
Yes, I have received two job offers at private limited companies. The first job offer is as a Business Analyst at ION GROUP. The company deals with integrating their financial software products with companies and commercial and central banks in order to improve their operations in the back, middle and front office, and alongside creating automated trading platforms. I will be involved in carrying out the implementation of the software and understanding the financial benefits of the installation. The field involves an understanding of derivatives markets and business analytics.
The second job offer is a Finance Analyst role at Accuracy Ltd, which involved financial consulting for companies with litigation matters. The role involves a deep knowledge of forensic accounting that Imperial provides during the first term of the programme. I accepted the role at ION Group as this was my first offer and I found finance technology more interesting.
How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?
The Careers service helped me tremendously with my CV and cover letters when applying to companies, they helped by making the documents professional and visually aesthetic. They also provided great one-to-one sessions where I was given advice on case study assessments and group work interactions.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, I do believe so. London is the financial capital of the world providing multiple opportunities to entrepreneurs. During my time here, I have been invited to the University of London events, which had Princess Anne as a guest speaker. I have networked and collaborated with technology startups and traditional businesses to organise social events. I have gotten the chance to meet finance professionals in various branches across London, alongside engineering professionals who are studying an MBA at Imperial.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Camden as I love the artistic environment that it nurtures. I lived in Camden during my time at UCL and I am very familiar with the area. The Camden Market is also a great place to meet with my friends, go out for food or just go for a walk.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
During my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees I have loved travelling across Europe and visiting different parts of the continent. It gives me the chance to learn something different to engineering and finance - such as cooking Spanish dishes, learning how to skateboard in Barcelona, surfing the beaches of France, wakeboarding and flyboarding in Portugal. I formed a deep love for adrenaline sports growing up in Zambia and whenever I have the time and the money, I like to participate in bungee jumping.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
I have been living in London for three years before my time at Imperial. The benefit about living in London is that you will always find something to do and someone to meet. It is one of the busiest places in the world, offering so many activities in so many parts of the city. The challenges of moving to London is probably only faced in the first few weeks, adapting to the public transport system and dealing with the price change, as restaurants and rent may be more expensive in certain areas.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Yes, I would recommend prospective students to attend these events if they want to have a clearer insight into what it is like on the programme, alongside meeting the staff and students that will join you.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
My advice is to not be overwhelmed by the programme overview and content, especially if you are new to Imperial and finance. Imperial College Business School welcomes engineers and those unfamiliar with the fields and takes an active role in building the foundations in accounting and finance. My time at Imperial has been rewarding, as each term assessment period ensures that what you learn in class can be applied anywhere. It has helped me find two jobs in finance and technology and I am sure it will help you pursue your dreams.