Academic and industry experience before Imperial
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I had undertaken a couple of internships within the financial advisory division of investment banks, but had little work experience otherwise. This seemed to contrast with some of my coursemates who had worked in full-time roles prior to their masters.
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Finance & Accounting and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
Primarily, I wanted to hone my skills in corporate finance. Having interned previously in Investment Banking, I understood that having a strong foundation in valuation and corporate finance truly enhances the experience of working in financial advisory. I felt I could gain from a theoretical education in this field, particularly given my undergraduate background, which was predominantly in the humanities.
Studying MSc Finance
What makes the MSc Finance & Accounting at Imperial College Business School unique?
The choice of electives and the unique visiting professors chosen to deliver these electives. After gaining a core foundation in Corporate Finance and Accounting, I enjoyed learning about diverse topics, such as Real Estate Investments to Corporate Law and Corporate Tax strategy. I personally liked this broad approach given the diverse nature of my undergraduate degree.
Another unique aspect is the group work. Almost all modules have a proportion of marks allocated to group work and this is what really differentiated my masters experience from previous education. Discussing problems in a practical manner with your peers is a much better approach to learning the key concepts in Finance than studying by yourself in the library.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
The practical element of the programme is what I found the most rewarding. A good example was during our Advanced Corporate Finance module. Instead of assigning questions from the textbook, the lecturer gave us regular case studies (every week) involving real companies and corporate situations. We would often need to model various valuation scenarios and think critically (in our group) on how the company should proceed with its financing decisions. The lecturer would then go through the case in the next lecture in an MBA-style discussion with the cohort – a really engaging experience!
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
I personally found the programming aspect of the course quite challenging. We were given an extensive MATLAB programming assignment in the first term. This involved understanding some of the basics of programming practices and then rapidly progressing to applying MATLAB to create trading strategies. This was during an already busy term in which we had five core modules to study for. Having had little prior programming experience, I learnt a lot from this assignment but it did require some getting used to!
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I enjoyed the Real Estate Investments elective module the most. Firstly, I learnt about an investment space which was completely new to me, which already made the module interesting. We were taught by an experienced practitioner who managed to make the lectures extra engaging by bringing both his real-world experience and that of three high-profile guest speakers, all from various Real-Estate related backgrounds.
Secondly, I found that there were many aspects of the course which were transferable to other fields in finance. We learnt about debt markets, real-option analysis, various considerations in DCF analysis, and although these were taught through a Real-Estate lens, we came away with the core understanding of these topics, which is highly transferable.
Lastly, 50% of this module consisted of creating a 20 slide Investment Committee presentation based on an extensive Real-Estate excel model. I found modelling to be a great way to understand the mechanics of the cash flows and drivers for returns in a real-estate investment, and working on this assignment with my group of friends was one of the highlights of the year!
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I learnt some key skills from the seminars on using the data resources available on campus. This included training on how to use the Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson One etc.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Haresh Sapra, the professor who lectured us in Financial Accounting in our first semester was the most dynamic, engaging lecturer I have ever had. Accounting, a topic which risks being taught too theoretically, was really brought to life through Haresh’s charismatic lecturing and his insistence on class participation. In his first lecture to us, he urged us to come and visit him in his office at whatever time for help on any concepts and even offered to give additional material to push those of us who were keen enough!
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
International. Being British, I was in the minority and this is something I came to value. Throughout the year I learnt a great deal through my course mates about how things (both financial and non-financial) worked in outside of the U.K. We could frequently apply these diverse insights into our group assignments and it made the year a lot more interesting. It is reassuring to know that I have developed such a strong network of friends across continental Europe.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I took the role of Academic Advisor as part of the Student Staff Committee. My role involved acting as a continuous liaison between the students, the teaching staff, and the administrative staff to convey any feedback. Ultimately, the aim was to represent the student cohort and improve the course for the next year. I found the role stimulating and am a strong believer that one should be invested in their programme.
Opportunities from studying at Imperial
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
Most probably the ability to mix the study of corporate finance with more quantitative disciplines, and learn these through a particularly hands-on approach.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Throughout the year, I felt very integrated within the wider Imperial College London community. As well as sharing the various study spaces, we could join a whole host of Imperial Student Societies, catering for all interests. I also appreciated the fact that I was mixing with students studying a variety of disciplines.
Career goals and jobs
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I was fortunate enough to already hold a job-offer before joining the Masters programme, however I still attended some of the Career Services’ sessions on assessment centres, which I found useful.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I aim to start my career in M&A, a field for which studying Finance & Accounting at Imperial has prepared me well for. It is difficult to predict much further ahead, however, I aim to utilise the investment skills I have acquired on the course in the near future.
Life as a student in London
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Considering networking events and financial services are concentrated in London, proximity to the capital is undoubtedly beneficial when widening ones career prospects. Through various networking events held in the city, I was able to learn about career opportunities in new industries I would have been unlikely to be to exposed to if I was not studying in London.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Being born and raised in London, I decided to stay in my family home in North-West London to save some money. Having said this, London’s fantastic public transport network makes it very easy to go from one end of London to another.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
Let’s pick a weekend in June to keep more options open. This could feature drinks in a whole host of rooftop bars, from Radio Rooftop Bar in Covent Garden to Madison over looking St. Pauls. Next morning, you would go for a game of badminton with some coursemates at the university’s Ethos Sports Centre, followed by a 5-minute bike ride to Hyde Park. Ice-cream, boat-rides, and more cycling would follow. Next, a pub lunch over-looking the Thames followed by a ride on the Circular Cruise towards Embankment for a quick peruse through Tate Modern (for free!). Dinner would take place in Soho’s China town, followed by drinks in the Blues Kitchen in Brixton (accompanied by a live band obviously)! The night would most probably end on the dance floor in the same venue. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the variety of things on offer in this city!
Advice for future students
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Start thinking about potential career paths early. It is tempting to leave it a few months until you gain more exposure to different areas in finance through the programme, however competition is tough and it takes the pressure off your studies if you find the internship/ job you’re looking for sooner.