What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
After graduating from Belmont University, I moved to Moldova, the country I am originally from, and was offered a position as a Junior Economist within the National Commission for Financial Markets, which is the local equivalent of the Financial Conduct Authority. I was mainly involved in implementing European Directives into local legislation. A highlight of my activity was related to efforts for deepening the local government bonds market. After a few years of experience, I was offered a position with the leading economic think-tank in the country, Expert-Grup. In my new role I was again involved in activities related to development of Moldova’s capital markets as well as providing consulting to the National Bank of Moldova, in the area of enhancing stability of the financial market. Overall, I had 4 years of work experience before coming to Imperial.
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Finance & Accounting and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
In my prior activity, I was entrusted with important tasks which required profound knowledge of the functioning of the market, and in certain cases I felt I lacked it. Therefore, my main motivation to come to Imperial College Business School to study MSc Finance & Accounting stemmed from my desire to sharpen my financial acumen in all areas of financial industry, starting from company financing and ending with the ebbs and flows of whole system. Considering the world class quality of the programme at Imperial College, I was certain this programme could help me attain my objectives.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I was one of the 1,500 students selected to receive a scholarship from the UK Government, known as the Chevening Scholarship. The Chevening Scholarship is an international scholarship scheme which enables students with leadership qualities from over 140 developing countries to undertake postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom. Funding for the scheme comes from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is usually matched with a partial contribution from the universities. The main benefit of receiving a scholarship from the UK Government (Imperial College matched a portion of my scholarship) was the lack of financial pressure I experienced throughout the year, which in turn allowed me to focus completely on my studies and exploring of London and the British Culture. Furthermore, an additional perk of the Chevening scholarship is the wide network of alumni, which number over 50,000 graduates which hold leadership position all around the globe, including the recently elected president of Costa Rica.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
The most enjoyable part of the programme was the discussions we had with professors when walking outside of the classroom, after lectures. Most professors would emphasize their interest in us learning for the sake of performing well in the future rather than getting a good grade in the exam. Despite this fact, at the end of the day, grading pressure was always hovering over us, especially considering the semesters are only 9 weeks long. Therefore, when we would discuss class related topics outside of the classroom, I felt like exam pressures would go away, and we could truly absorb our professors’ knowledge, by engaging in lively debates with them.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Although, we had a number of really good modules, my favourite was Banks, Regulation and Monetary Policy. I have been previously engaged in providing consulting to the National Bank of Moldova, on issues such as financial stability and systemic crises. Therefore, learning about the history of financial crises, transmission channels, prevention mechanisms, shadow banking system and banks in general has been by far the highlight of my experience at Imperial College.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The first full term in the fall was somewhat overwhelming. Although at first, I thought the start of the programme was slow, the learning curve became very steep in a very short period of time. The quantity and diversity of academic material (including a new coding language in Matlab) we had to learn was fairly vast. Furthermore, a lot of the activity in the programme is organised as group work, which was very challenging, since working style and work ethic, as well as preferred communication types varied significantly among group members. In the early fall we participated in a group activity which was meant to prepare us for the challenges lying ahead. This was helpful, but we inevitably ran into difficulties. Ultimately, overcoming these difficulties prepared us a lot for real life scenarios.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The cohort at Imperial has been as diverse as one could imagine a body of international students to be. This implies great intrinsic value as people coming from different cultures and backgrounds bring a lot to the table in terms of values, qualities, worldviews etc. I am confident, the bonds built throughout the programme, will be the founding stones of a worldwide network of connections, an invaluable asset for any professional.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
I have been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the professorsat Imperial. Their backgrounds, experience and teaching styles have truly been top class. My favourite professor was Jose Louis Peydro (Banks, Regulation and Monetary Policy) – a very knowledgeable academic, with top level experience in most prominent financial institutions around the world. Professor Peydro was really concerned with us understanding the material he taught us. Learning from the likes of him has been an honour. Another perk of being in Professor Peydro’s class, was the strict limit to the length of the exam answers he expected of us. This made his exam a tiny bit easier; which are generally very demanding – as any Imperial College student could witness.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
As I previously noted, the great emphasis on group work was very challenging as people come from different cultures and have different work ethics and working styles. However, looking back, I feel I am a lot more prepared now to face any challenges that might arise from any group related tasks in my career. For instance, at one point in our experience, when we were facing a major conflict, we had to address the problem directly after which we had discuss the issue with the programme team. We were forced to act in an amiable, tolerant and open-minded manner as it was only the middle of the semester, and if we were to continue as a team we had to deal with it properly. Such lessons, although painful at the time, are an invaluable asset for our future careers.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunities came from interactions with brilliant professors, peers and guest speakers. These days, you can learn a lot from the internet, online courses, academic papers etc. But receiving immediate feedback from such bright people, and even engaging in lively debates with them is truly a unique opportunity.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Imperial College Business School puts on a lot of events for students, from which you can truly learn a lot and through which you can even expand your professional network. A particular event I remember participating, was the book launch – “Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State” by Sir Paul Tucker, British Economist and Central Banker. He was formerly the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Being able to interact with such high-level officials first hand gives you a lot of inspiration and incentive to work as hard as you can.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
The programme at Imperial has made me considerably more prepared to face the challenges in the finance industry. In the future, I am particularly interested in establishing sound financial systems and infrastructures in emerging economies, which can involve activities such as development of capital market instruments and designing policies related to ensuring stability of banking systems. After graduation I will continue working with Expert-Grup, which is the leading economic think-tank in Moldova, promoting efforts to develop Moldova’s financial market. I have no doubt, that being at Imperial sharpened my knowledge and my acumen, and I am now more prepared than ever to take on this challenge..
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
After graduation I will continue working with Expert-Grup, which is the leading economic think-tank in Moldova, promoting efforts for developing Moldova’s financial market. Among other activities, Expert-Grup provides consulting services to Moldova’s financial market regulators, with the objective of establishing a sound and resilient financial system. Some of the tasks I will be working on include after graduation include: monitoring contagion in Moldova’s banking sector, developing tools intended to increase stability of the sector, designing policies aimed at deepening Moldova’s bond and stock markets etc.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
First, Imperial is located in one of the most beautiful areas in London, therefore coming to university is a daily feast to the eye. Second of all, studying in a central area of the heart of the global financial centre yields numerous opportunities in terms of attending various professional events and networking opportunities. Visits to places such as the London Stock Exchange or Canary Wharf are both a great learning experience and a strong incentive to perform well, in order to secure successful positions going forward.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I had to choose my location being constrained by the limited monthly stipend offered through my scholarship programme. Nonetheless, I lived in North-West London, in West Hampstead area, which is a very nice location, and is positioned not too far from the University.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
Imperial College is located in the vicinity of some of the largest and most important museums in the UK: Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Museum. Paying a visit to these places is a must in terms of cultural development. London has a lot of beautiful parks, which I enjoyed exploring in the few sunny days the city has to offer. Additionally, London is arguably the city with one of the highest ratios of restaurants per inhabitant – and if you search enough, you can find many very affordable options even for a student budget. My favourite place was Flat Iron, which probably has the greatest steak for only 10 pounds.
Last, but not least, London is a great hub for visiting other European cities. I am a passionate traveller and love exploring new countries and cultures, thus I tried to take advantage of the city’s interconnectedness to other countries, which is a unique perk.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
Life in London can be quite costly, therefore financial management skills are an important prerequisite for any foreigner moving to London. Additionally, with the many opportunities offered by the city comes overcrowding. It is not unusual for stores, restaurants, theatres etc. to be full at any time of the day. Some people might experience a shock when moving from a less crowded city.
On the upside, there is always something going on in the city: sports, cultural activities, concerts etc. which offer opportunities for any tastes and preferences.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
The programme is very demanding, therefore before applying I would advise prospective students to make sure they are willing to give 110% during the school year. Completing the primer online modules before beginning the programme is also important, particularly for people with a different undergraduate background.
On the flip side, time flies by really quickly, hence it is crucial to take advantage of every opportunity, whether it is attending events, networking, or interacting with peers and professors.