What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
My key focus in my early career was to partake in varied and international work experience. After graduating from New York University, I accepted an associate position with a small private banking team in the United Arab Emirates, working in the investment solutions desk for two years. Within this opportunity, I was exposed to many facets of the finance industry and was encouraged by my colleagues and management alike to pursue the CFA, which I studied for in the evenings after work.
I wanted to expand and refine on my managerial skills, so I left that position to move back to Morocco and work in my family business as the head of the finance arm, as I considered my next steps for my finance career.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?
I wanted to return to university in order to address some gaps that I felt were lacking when I studied my CFA, specifically modelling work and programming experience. I also wanted to go more in depth on topics within the finance industry that I felt were intriguing, so it was very important to find a programme that offered relevant and practical programmes.
Imperial was the best choice as it addressed all the aforementioned concerns that I had when choosing a programme. I also knew that in addition to the education itself, I would be benefiting from the brand name of having attended one of the most highly ranked Finance programmes in the world, which would be invaluable in my job search.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
The friends I made on the programme are the definite highlight. Everyone was striving to do well in the programmes and it’s very motivating to be part of a cohort that aims to excel. It’s encouraging to come out of a confusing Derivatives lecture knowing that you can discuss it with your cohort, on the group chat or in the library over a coffee, or rehearsing job interviews with friends that somehow manage to make it fun. Through the ups and downs, it’s great to have people in the same situation as you, pushing you to do your best!
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
It’s hard to single out only one module, but the Private Equity & Venture Capital module that I took in the Spring was an amazing combination of everything that I was looking for in Imperial. Sebastien, our Professor, was able to share his experience working in the field to give us classes that were highly relevant to the industry of today. Although the modules that we were asked to generate were certainly challenging, they gave us the discipline and the context we needed to apply the theoretical aspects of the programme into practical examples, based on real-life deals. It was also great that he managed to secure weekly guest lecturers from professionals working in private equity, who were able to share their experiences with us after every class.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Being able to represent both my Finance cohort as well as the wider Business School in the Student Staff Committee and the Consulting Club. I loved the opportunity to act as the class delegate for all our student concerns regarding the Careers team and how they were of help to our class. Reaching out to employers to coordinate events with the Consulting Club was also amazing, as it tested my perseverance and pushed me to develop my communication skills.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
I knew that the programme would feature some programming, but I didn’t realise quite the extent we would be using R (a programming language) until the autumn term. There was a steep learning curve, but it made it more satisfying when our group was able to master the Econometrics trading strategy by the end of the term.
How was the international trip to Dublin and did you attend an international elective?
The Dublin trip was a great way to learn more about finance opportunities outside of London, and it was fantastic to have everyone on the cohort there to visit the sites and partake in the Apprentice challenge. I thought that was a fun team building challenge and a good start to the spring term.
I also attended the Dubai elective. Dubai was surprising because although I’d lived in Abu Dhabi for two years, I was given the opportunity to visit sites that I’d never been to before. Going to the Central Bank and to Mubadala, one of the country’s sovereign wealth funds, was great because we were able to ask questions to real life practitioners and relate what we’d learned in the programme to live applications. It also goes without saying that we had a blast from a nightlife perspective, and the desert ride experience was a fantastic way to end the week!
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Our cohort is quite diverse in both academic backgrounds as well as nationalities, and I think that our diversity of backgrounds makes everyone uniquely very interesting. I’d say that the two things that unite us are that we are all ready to excel, and we like to have fun while studying hard. For most of us, this is our last year to enjoy being a student, and so everyone is ready to do their best but are also eager to make friends and have a good time after classes.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
I wasn’t particularly interested in taking the Derivatives class, but I ended up engaged in the module because of Dr Harjoat Bhamra’s fantastic teaching style. He has a knack for distilling these often-arcane mathematical concepts down to easy-to-understand chunks, and he kept the class at a great pace that suited everybody. He also somehow managed to make the class funny, which is appreciated as the content can border on being dry at times. Overall, he kept everyone focused and encouraged participation, and although this was one of the more challenging classes from a curriculum perspective, he always kept it manageable.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunity I have had is representing the Imperial College Business School Consulting Club as the Employer Relations Manager. It was a great way for me to immerse myself more into consulting and reach out to potential employers about setting up events at the Business School.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Two events stand out for me. The first one was the ‘Finance in Focus’ event for Investment Banking, wherein a group of Imperial alumni came to the Business School to talk about their individual experiences within the field, and how they navigated their early job searches and first years in their careers. It was quite hands-on and there was a segment where the alumni tested our industry knowledge by breaking us up into individual groups and gave us example interview questions. Our group leader, Haris, was tremendously helpful because he gave candid feedback and was able to reorient our answers to better reflect how we should handle real job interviews.
The second event was similar but was a consulting super-day held at the Business School. It was even more applied, because we spent most of the Saturday tackling case studies whilst supervised by consultants working in companies such as E&Y, Deloitte and PA Consulting. It was really rewarding to be coached by professionals and it was instrumental in helping me prepare for my consulting interviews.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I am a Careers Leader for MSc Finance and the Employer Relations Manager for the Imperial College Business School Consulting Club.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Having access to the Imperial name is a definite advantage because it seems that all the alumni that I reach out to are more than happy to help with my questions regarding my job search and to accept coffee chats, especially on LinkedIn. It’s also very reassuring that even after I graduate, I will have access to Imperial’s amazing Careers team, which give careers-related services and training should I require it further on in my career.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
It was very important to me to acquire as much international experience as possible early on in my career. Having lived in New York, Dubai and Morocco, London was a great next step for my early work life, and I always suspected that I’d have tremendous networking opportunities while living here.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in GradPad, an accommodation reserved for postgraduate students. I wanted to live somewhere with an active student community, so it was the right choice for me.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to keep active, so I really like to run and swim in my free time. Otherwise, I’m quite competitive so I like to play boardgames with friends or participate in online Dota and Overwatch (E-sports) tournaments.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
There are clear opportunities available for international students, as London is one of the biggest financial hubs in the world. However, since sponsorship opportunities are limited, you will have to distinguish yourself in some way in order to secure your dream job. My advice is to approach the job search quite early on in your move to London and try to book an appointment with the Careers team as soon as you get there. They are an invaluable resource and will guide you on how to approach your job search, so be sure to use them before it gets super hectic in the Autumn.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Try to reach out to the student ambassadors and recent graduates of the programme! Everyone is more than happy to talk about their experiences, so if you’re interested in Imperial, it will be very helpful for you to chat with someone who can share their first-hand experiences with you.