Anastasia Malakhova, MSc Finance 2019-20, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Finance

BSc Mathematics with Management and Finance, King’s College London

About you

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

I had a number of short-term work experiences, such as a two-week experience or a work placement programme at companies including Wainbridge Limited, European Financial Group and RosEvroBank. In terms of longer-term internships, I previously worked at HSBC in Retail Banking and Wealth Management after my second year of university, and later at Citigroup in Corporate Banking.

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

After the end of my first year of university, I realised that I wanted to work in the financial industry after graduation. This was the reason I started applying to summer internships and have later interned in companies including HSBC (in retail banking and wealth management) and Citigroup (in corporate banking). Internships have been very beneficial, but I felt that I needed to learn more about different parts of the industry in order to make the right career decision. The solution was a Master’s in Finance.

After extensive research, I decided that Imperial was my first choice. The university got my attention through an opportunity to attend an international elective on their website. But most importantly, the programme’s curriculum offered a wide range of modules and was structured in such a way that you can adjust your learning based on what you enjoy the most/what career you choose to pursue. This was the reason I decided to study MSc Finance at Imperial and so far, I am very happy with the decision I made.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was very happy to receive a Women in Finance Scholarship to study the MSc Finance programme at Imperial. In my opinion, getting a scholarship is highly motivating and pushes you to achieve even more and greater things. I got a feeling that the Business School really cares about my future and supports me in my academic and work-related endeavours.


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

It is difficult to choose. I would say that group projects have been a highlight, as I have very much enjoyed our group’s dynamic. But I also have to say that our professors are very good at explaining concepts, which makes the lectures very interesting. If I were to choose one aspect I enjoy the most, I would say it’s the people. I believe that Imperial has gathered the brightest individuals, so it is very interesting and motivating to work with everyone in my classes.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Once again, difficult to choose. I would say that the Investments and Portfolio Management (IPM) and Derivatives modules are great. The IPM module is very good at creating a big picture and lets you see how different market participants interact. Derivatives is a module that really makes you think, but once you get a grasp of it, you learn a lot. Both professors that lead the modules make the lectures very interesting to listen to.  

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

I believe that it always satisfies you when you solve a difficult problem that you couldn’t do beforehand. You have a steep learning curve throughout the programme, but it is definitely worth it.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

For me, learning how to code was a bit challenging, as I haven’t done much coding before in my undergraduate. However, we had a foundation module in R programming, which helps you get up to speed with coding. I usually prefer working with Python as it feels a bit more intuitive, but R was a useful language to learn as well.

How were the international experience/s beneficial to you?

We have a trip to Lisbon which is scheduled for mid-April - I am very excited for it! Apart from learning on the trip, I think it is a great opportunity to network and get to know everyone on our programme even better. I am also planning to attend an international elective which is happening at the end of March.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Great people. Very diverse cohort in terms of personalities, experiences, nationalities and background. We have some students who came straight from their Bachelor’s, while others have been working for a couple of years in the industry before deciding to do a Master’s. Despite the differences in backgrounds, everyone is very friendly, happy to collaborate and eager to learn.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

I would say that all of the professors are very good at presenting information in such a way that it makes it interesting for students to learn. I think it is because the lecturers are themselves enthusiastic about the subjects they are teaching, which passes on to students.


What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

One of the greatest opportunities I’ve had at Imperial was being able to meet and talk to numerous employees at different companies. This really helps you understand where your interests lie and where you want to work after graduation. Imperial organises many career fairs and company events which are very helpful in this regard.

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

Career events have been very helpful in choosing which part of the industry interests me the most. They are also helpful in deciding which electives I should choose for my upcoming semesters. I have also attended events such as a venture capital case study and information sessions of different departments of large banks. These were very good at broadening my knowledge in the fields.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?

One of the activities I have been involved in so far is being a team captain for the Bloomberg Investment Challenge. We have a team of five students, each with different backgrounds and knowledge, which makes working together interesting and productive. The challenge runs for two months and involves creating a trading strategy using only long positions in stocks around the world. So far, it has been very exciting – we have definitely learned more about how to use the Bloomberg terminal – and we are hoping to make the most out of it. I have also attended numerous events organised by the Business School’s clubs and societies.

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

There are a lot of opportunities to socialise with people across programmes within the Business School. For example, about two weeks ago I went to a Finance Masters’ social event that included students across Imperial’s five Finance programmes. Other events that are great for socialising include the welcome event at the Natural History Museum, as well as European trips and international electives. During the welcome event, you can meet all students studying in the Business School, while the international electives are a great way to work with people outside of your class.

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

I went to several events and workshops which were organised for all students of Imperial College. For example, I went to the Deep Learning workshops, which were very interesting and helped me learn how to code much faster than expected. It also helps you meet people outside of the Business School and keep you up-to-date with what is going on within the wider university.


What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

After graduating from King’s College London my main aim was to learn more about the financial industry to make the right decision in terms of my future full-time job. This was the reason I decided to join the MSc Finance programme, which has been very helpful in that regard. As I have mentioned previously, Imperial is very good at organising career events and other opportunities to meet and talk to various employers. After six months at Imperial, I feel that I have a clear idea of what I want to do next.

How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

I attended a one-to-one Career session, which I believe is very helpful if you are unsure about what you want to do next. Everyone I’ve met from Careers has been very nice and I felt that they were prepared to work closely with you to help you achieve your goals. When I started my journey at Imperial, I wasn’t sure about where I will start my full-time job. Since then, I have received a number of offers, but haven’t yet accepted a place for the upcoming year.  

London Location

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

Studying in London brings a wide range of opportunities to meet people across different organisations and networks. It is much easier to learn more about the company when you visit it or talk to one of the employees in-person, and London is one of the best places in the world for such opportunities. There are a lot of events happening in London, organised not only by Imperial but also by companies. Once you go on Eventbrite, you can see a wide range of talks and social events that may be of interest to you and that can potentially help you with your future career. I had an opportunity to attend sustainability talks, economic forums and visit companies through such events.

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

I have to say that I am very lucky, as I have moved to London together with my family.  I currently live with them, about 15-20 minutes away from the university.

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

London has a wide variety of activities you can engage yourself in. Bouldering is one of the things I really enjoy doing– and London has many places if this is your type of thing. In terms of sport, I also love running in Hyde Park, which you can do straight after your lecture, as the park is two minutes away from the Business School. In terms of cultural activities, there are also lots of things to do. For example, if you haven’t been to the Tim Walker exhibition in V&A museum yet, which by the way is right in front of the Business School, definitely give it a go!

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

I have been living in London for a while before starting the programme, however, I remember moving to London at the age of 14 very clearly. My main challenge has been learning the language, as I didn’t speak English well enough at the time. I was lucky, though, as my classmates were very kind and they have helped me learn the language quickly. My main advice for anyone moving to London would be to go out and talk to people, embrace yourself in a wide variety of cultures, visit museums and galleries during your free time and, most importantly, enjoy your stay in London! The city has a lot to offer, so make sure you benefit from it!


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

The first thing that I did when deciding where to apply for Master’s is to go through the website and compare the programme’s curriculum with what I was expecting to learn and achieve during my postgraduate studies. When I was sure that I was interested in the MSc Finance programme, I went to an information session that was organised in Canary Wharf. It was very useful, as I had the chance to talk to the Admissions team from Imperial and ask questions about topics that weren’t mentioned on the programme’s web page. I also attended an online webinar, which I recommend if you still have further questions, or if you study outside of the UK and it is difficult for you to attend an information session in-person.

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

I think the main advice would be to really think about what you want to achieve from doing a Master’s and what you expect to gain from the programme. Then, if a Master’s at Imperial College Business School suits your needs and expectations – then definitely apply! So far, the Business School has exceeded my expectations in all aspects, so I am sure you will enjoy it as well.

In terms of preparing for the application, I think it is important to stay up to date with current events. Reading the FT, for example, is very helpful and will likely benefit you during the interview. Also, make sure you understand that most programmes require some quantitative background, so if you need to brush up your maths skills, I would recommend doing so before the beginning of the programme.

MSc Finance

BSc Mathematics with Management and Finance, King’s College London