Ana-Maria Simionescu MSc Finance, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Finance

BSc Economics, University of Bristol

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

I had two short-term internships at Exim Bank in Romania, during which I rotated around several different departments including Treasury, Risk Management and Corporate Banking. I also worked as an Actuarial Intern at Willis Towers Watson (WTW) in Bristol during my second year of university, before returning to the WTW London office for another internship the following summer.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?

When researching the different Master’s programmes, Imperial’s MSc Finance stood out to me because of the applied, quantitative structure and the worldwide recognition of the programme. Attending the Women in Finance webinar reinforced my decision to apply as I learned more about the sound Careers service, amazing number of employer events and project opportunities on offer.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was fortunate enough to receive an Imperial Business Scholarship. Not only did the scholarship give me an added sense of achievement, which motivated me to work even harder, but it also strengthened my resume. Employers recognise the rigorous selection process around scholarships, and this helps me when pursuing professional opportunities.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

Having a syndicate group has been a great aspect – you have the same group for all your modules in the first term and this really gives you a fantastic sense of teamwork while preparing you for your career. Working in teams is something I didn’t have much experience with­ prior to arriving at Imperial, so it was a great way to not only build on my skills, but also make close friends. In addition, I enjoyed the different events put together by both the Careers team and the Business School’s clubs, which helped me expand my network and gain more clarity around the career path I wanted to pursue.  

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My two favourite modules so far have been Derivatives and Entrepreneurial Finance. Although I do not plan to pursue a career in the field, I thoroughly enjoyed Derivatives because Dr Harjoat Bhamra is a truly great teacher, who challenged me intellectually. Not only did Dr Bhamra make stochastic calculus look easy, but he also ensured that we would understand the reasoning behind the complicated maths, which enhanced our understanding. Entrepreneurial Finance is also a great module because of its applied nature. Visiting Professor Ramana Nanda is a great teacher who provided excellent insights into how the venture capital industry works. The module felt like a real life “Dragon’s Den”.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The most rewarding part of the programme for me was being an Academic Leader, which allowed me to voice my cohort’s concerns to the Programme team and help improve student experience. It was also great when, together with the other Student-Staff Committee Leaders, we managed to improve the student feedback levels. This not only enhanced my cohort’s Business School experience, but also improved things for future generations. Raising the feedback levels also gave us a boost in our social budget, which allowed the Social Leaders to throw an amazing party at the end of the term!

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

I think the most challenging part of the programme was the Autumn term, as I had to ensure I had time for continuous exam revision, multiple pieces of coursework, job hunting and the extra-curricular activities I was involved in. It was particularly hard in the first month when everything seemed to clash, but this eventually helped me learn to manage my time more effectively, becoming more efficient when it came to balancing studying and job applications. All in all, I am grateful for these challenges as they helped me improve myself.

How did you find the unprecedented switch to remote delivery due to the global pandemic?

The MSc Finance Programme team did an amazing job at switching everything remote in a timely manner and responding to student feedback about the online delivery of lectures. Everything is running smoothly and interaction with both the cohort and the professors has been preserved – the only thing I miss is going to the library. 


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

In three simple words: international, friendly, and bright. Everyone is extremely easy to talk to and you truly have a lot to learn from everyone. People have worked in a variety of industries and come from all around the world, so you really broaden your horizons by being a part of this community.


Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

The M&A Modelling workshop organised by the Finance Club was particularly helpful as we were taught how to carry out in-depth company analysis and quantify merger synergies – skills which will not only help me when writing my final project, but also throughout my career. In addition, the weekly consulting case study workshops held by the Consulting Club were a great way to learn the ropes when it came to solving case studies.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

I am the Academic Leader for my MSc Finance cohort and also Head of Marketing for the Finance Club, roles which have helped me expand my network and learn more about online marketing strategy. I am also a member of the Environmental Committee, which aims to help improve sustainability standards in the Business School.  

In my spare time I also volunteer at What the Tech?!, where together with other students we assist elderly community members with any electronic device or online advice they need. It’s a great way to give back to the community and meet students from other programmes in the Business School. I definitely recommend getting involved in as many activities as possible as it is very rewarding and you can make great friends.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

The Careers workshops, club events and What the Tech?! are a great way to both work and socialise with students across the wider Business School. The main highlights for me were the group case study workshops where we had to work together to solve a business problem, and the Women in Finance evening organised by Careers, which helped me connect with amazing driven women throughout the Business School.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

As a Business School Student, you also benefit from all the clubs and societies the College has to offer. I was selected to be project manager for one of the spring projects at the Imperial Consulting Group – it was a great way to work closely with a real industry client and gain a genuine insight into the consulting industry, while also expanding my network and socialising with other students from the College.


Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme? How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

I am happy to say I successfully secured a role as an Investment Analyst at Willis Towers Watson. As I interned with the company before, the Careers service helped me find the best way to voice my preference of working in another area of their business. I also took advantage of the one-to-one mock interview appointments offered by the Careers service prior to my assessment centre, which helped me refine my answers and get rid of some nerves!

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

Studying in London is extremely helpful when it comes to interviews and networking events, not to mention that the exposure to different company events is much higher in London compared to other UK cities. In my first term at Imperial I was at a company presentation or networking event every week, having valuable conversations which I don’t believe would have been possible had I been located elsewhere.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I live in one of the Gradpad studios, which is the Masters-only accommodation provided by Imperial. I chose to live there because not only is it 20 minutes away from the university, but also because living in halls takes some of the stress away from doing a Masters. If something is not working in my room, the building director will take care of it, saving me a lot of time and hassle and allowing me to focus on my studies.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

When I’m not studying or at a networking event, it is really great to be able to take advantage of everything London has to offer. I personally enjoy walking around the city, visiting the amazing museums and grabbing a bite to eat at a new café I might have found with my friends.


Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? 

I attended the Women in Finance Webinar which reinforced my decision to come to Imperial. It was a great event in the sense that I got to talk directly to students from the programme and gain valuable insight and tips on how to secure a place on the programme. I definitely recommend attending events like these not only because they will aid you in your application process, but because they will also give you a better understanding of what life at Imperial is really like.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

Be prepared to work hard and push yourself as the programme can be intense sometimes. Make sure you can manage your time effectively, and definitely take advantage of all the resources the Business School offers. In particular, I’d recommend attending the one-to-one Careers sessions as soon as you can.

When you arrive, don’t be afraid to get involved in clubs and other activities at the Business School that kind of experience will help you further develop and give you an edge in interviews

MSc Finance

BSc Economics, University of Bristol