BSc Banking and International Finance, Cass Business School
Real Assets Graduate Scheme, Aviva Investors
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
During my undergraduate studies I had interned at two banks which gave me an insight into corporate and retail banking. After graduating from Cass Business School, instead of pursuing a career at a traditional bank, I joined a fintech startup called AskIf as its first full-time employee.
My previous work experience allowed me to better understand my strengths and areas of improvements. As a result, I felt that I could approach my postgraduate studies with greater focus and make the most out of my time at Imperial.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance & Accounting at Imperial College Business School?
The global reputation of Imperial College London and the Business School was a key factor in deciding to study on the programme. After that, it was a matter of speaking with the previous cohort and reading the programme structure. I was convinced that MSc Finance & Accounting would challenge me intellectually, allow me to build on my soft and hard skills, and finally work alongside an impressive and ambitious cohort.
Did you receive a scholarship?
Yes, I received a scholarship to study at the Business School. It was a huge financial support for me. The key benefit was that I was able to focus on my studies rather than taking on a greater financial burden or having to work alongside my studies. The latter, on reflection, would not have been feasible as the programme can be quite demanding at times and requires your full attention.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
It was refreshing to see that most of the professors don’t just cover the basic theory – they try to make it relevant and engaging for the class.
I also really enjoyed that the programme emphasises building on your soft skills such as teamwork, presentation and time management. All three are in one way or another built into the marking scheme, incentivising everyone to build on these key skills. In the end, I think they will be beneficial in the working environment.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
The Real Estate Investment module has been my favourite. Robbin Herring has done a fantastic job to make the module content relevant, engaging and challenging. The module helped me to build on my financial modelling skills, sharpen my analytical thinking skills and think much more broadly about real estate. The guest lecturers provided us with a unique insight into industry that would certainly be useful for me when I join the workforce later in the year.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Given my Bachelor's in banking and finance, I found the foundation modules less challenging. On the other hand, some of the core modules and electives allowed us to dive deeper into topics and move beyond the theory.
Being able to interact with an accomplished faculty, some pf whom have led investment banks or sat on the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, meant that we could get an insight on how the theory is implemented in practice or better understand its limitations.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The workload can sometimes get to you. We’ve had many late nights working with our groups on an assignment, which at the time felt exhausting. On reflection, they helped to create a bond between us that I’m sure will last for years to come.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
I would describe my cohort as smart, ambitious and diverse. We had students with varied backgrounds, which made group work quite interesting as each member could provide a fresh perspective and challenge each other’s thinking.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
There were so many great lecturers this year that it would be unfair to just name one! One trivia I would like to share is finding out that our Accounting lecturer, Jeremy Fernando, is a DJ in his spare time.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
There have been too many to list them all here. I enjoyed hearing Roger Orf from Apollo talk to us about the real estate industry and his thoughts on the its future.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I joined the Imperial College Business School Student Investment Fund as an Equity Research Analyst in the Real Estate sector. It was my first exposure to conducting industry and company analysis. The fund provided me with a platform to pitch a stock to industry professionals, get feedback from senior equity analysts on my work and hear more about the industry from fund managers.
Additionally, I was also the Social Leader for my programme. I helped to organise multiple social events during the year - from International Day, when we celebrated the many cultures at Imperial – to a boat party. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet my peers and get to know them on a more personal level.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I wanted to pursue a career in Real Estate Asset Management. The programme provided me the foundation to build on and become an effective member of a large asset manager. More importantly, it broadened my horizon about the finance industry. I feel much more confident about my career choice having learnt so much about the rest of the industry and speaking with insiders.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have secured a graduate scheme in Real Assets with Aviva Investors. I will be rotating between different teams, these consist of real estate finance and alternative income solutions. Over summer, I will continue working for my previous employer – a boutique property investment and construction company based in London.
How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?
The Careers services team was very helpful and responsive. They helped me to make my CV top notch, sense check my career plan, prepare for interviews and assessment centres. I never had an issue booking a session with them and they were always reliable. There were also lots of useful career workshops helping you to build on specific skills such as presenting or doing case studies.
Overall, with the help from them, I felt more confident walking into interviews or assessment centres.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Absolutely. I had to, like many of my other colleagues, network ferociously. All my target firms were based in London, so it made sense to be close to them. I can’t imagine having to commute to London every time I wanted to meet someone, attend a networking event or go for an interview.
I believe what partially made me stand out during my interview at Aviva Investors was my initiative to reach out to other analysts on the Grad scheme beforehand. It gave me a better understanding of the firm and the confidence that I had made the right choice applying for that programme. More importantly, it showed the firm that I was keen to work there.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in North London. The commute was much longer but your bank account will thank you at the end of the year! After all, I was trying to save enough on the side so I could still enjoy all that London has to offer throughout the year.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
If time permits (which sometimes feels like a luxury when you study at Imperial), I enjoy salsa dancing, travelling and reading.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
I attended both the online webinar and on-campus information session. If you are based in London, I would highly recommend that you visit the campus for the information session. You can get a feel for the university, the area and meet some of the students. It was important for me when applying that I could see myself studying in that institution. The facilities and your cohort do make huge a difference. After all, you will be spending a good chunk of your time at the Business School when you start the programme.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Apply early! Don’t leave it too late. Speak to the Student Ambassadors, they are super helpful in giving you a fair picture of what the programme will be like.
Firstly, you should make sure the programme is a good fit for you and your future ambitions. It’s a big decision to make so make sure you look through the programme content carefully and speak to at least one student before sending your application through.