Austin McDonnell MSc Finance
MSc Finance 2019

About you

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

Before starting my MSc Finance programme my first desk job was at DBRS on the Structured Finance Rating and Modelling teams at the downtown Manhattan office.

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

I wanted to learn more traditional finance after graduating with a technical degree in Quantitative Finance from Stevens, and the final choice for Imperial and only Imperial came about from several different reasons. Firstly, I first learned about Imperial when some Business School students visited Stevens for workshops in the Hanlon Financial Labs and was impressed with their description of the programme. Secondly, since I attended an engineering school and enjoy working with engineers I was drawn to Imperial’s engineering reputation and central location in London. Lastly, the opinions and advice from the London team I worked with at DBRS gave the Business School high reviews and suggested it was the best move for a Master’s in London.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

I enjoy having the chance to work and socialise alongside students from all backgrounds, both academically and culturally.. Originally coming from Florida, living, working and studying in London allowed me to broaden my horizons and meet high calibre students within the Business School.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

The Derivatives module taught by Professor Harjoat Bhamra was my favourite due to the challenging material that was delivered with the perfect mix of academic and industry application. Professor Bhamra was able to break down complicated topics into digestible bites for anyone to understand, while also instituting programming assignments that are more representative of current industry problem solving.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme? 

The most rewarding part of the programme has been the proximity to London and the vast amount of opportunities to learn and explore outside of the classroom. Over the last year I have attended seven to eight finance and technology based conferences all over London, allowing me to meet industry professionals and understand how business operates here.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

The most challenging part of the programme has been meeting and interacting with students outside of the Business School. This is partly because both the Business School and engineering students do not have much free time available to interact.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

The concentration of intelligent and dedicated individuals is like no other and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside such diverse peers. I learned just as much, if not more, from my colleagues than the programme material overall.

Career

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

My future career goals have changed in a positive way since coming to Imperial. Taking the extra year for my Master’s and living in London has opened my eyes to the breadth of the financial services in today’s fast-moving technology driven business environment. I have discovered a passion for technology and have shifted my career goals accordingly to the intersection of both finance and technology.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme (please give details of roles you have accepted, what you will be doing)?

I received a job offer from Oodle Car Finance, a fintech startup focused on auto loan lending, where I am working as a Data Analyst on the Risk and Operations Team. Essentially my team analyses all parts of the business, finds where we can make a process more efficient and then builds and implements that tool in real time. I have a fantastic team comprised of extremely sharp people coming from all types of backgrounds spanning data science, maths, engineering and ifnance, and it has been a great experience working with them.. I also worked with Mark Daley at the Careers service to help understand my strengths and pinpoint my weaknesses. Mark was able to give me highly valuable personal insight, both from experience and knowledge of the UK Job market, as well as fantastic career advice the whole way through. I would not have had as much confidence if it was not for chatting with him every other week for two  months.

London Location

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

Being centrally located in London as a student allows for the opportunity to explore and learn outside of the classroom. I took full advantage of multiple conferences and various networking events offered throughout the whole year. For example, I attended a Wallstreet Journal event in November of 2018, where I met a few Australians who invited me to play cricket just this spring. Along with a chance to learn new insights about the industry it also helped to step outside my comfort zone and make new friends. Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

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?

Since I was moving to London from the US I set-up my accommodation online, which in hindsight was not the best approach. Ideally, I would have come to London and visited a few areas before settling on a place without physically seeing it. There are many fantastic spots in the greater London area that I discovered since my arrival, and it would have been beneficial to see or experience those areas beforehand.

Role
MSc Finance
Nationality
United States
Undergraduate education :

BSc Quantitative Finance, Stevens Institute of Technology

Job after Imperial College Business School :

Data Analyst, Oodle Car Finance