BSc Economics, University of Warwick
Risk Analyst, Schroders; Risk Summer Intern, Nomura
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Straight after school I completed my first internship in a small accounting firm on the Franco-German border which gave me a first look at the world of corporate finance. Soon after, I took on part-time jobs in education and marketing during university. I was then fortunate to work for Marsh & McLennan, an insurance broker, as a credit risk summer intern. This gave me the opportunity to network with industry professionals in the City and particularly Lloyd’s of London, the world’s leading insurance market.
Why did you decide to study MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?
The MSc Finance programme at Imperial is one of the best in Europe; as such, I saw it as a stepping stone towards a prosperous career in the financial sector. More specifically, you can tailor the programme to your personal preferences and professional aspirations, which is a major comparative advantage. The scientific prestige and orientation of Imperial add another dimension to the financial theory and the quality of the lecturers in mathematical analysis. This allows for a strong emphasis on the importance of financial technology for future markets, as reflected by some of the modules available on the programme such as Big Data in Finance. Lastly, the central location of Imperial in London complements the depth and breadth of alumni and professional connections within the city.
What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?
Where to begin? As mentioned above, I think that having the ability to build the programme to your own preferences is a key differentiating factor and boosts the attractiveness of your CV to potential employers. MSc Finance also allows for students to audit all of the proposed electives which diversifies their overarching understanding of the financial sector. The Business School puts an emphasis on group activities and social collaboration by assigning numerous group projects. This prepares the entire cohort for the world of finance where teamwork, communication, leadership and delegation skills are key. From private and public-sector practitioners with years of experience to academic researchers, the wealth of professors teaching at the Business School is truly astounding.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
The International Finance module has been my favourite by some distance. The class material is thorough and complements the core modules perfectly, embedding macroeconomics and econometrics within one fluid programme. The guest speaker, Giorgio Calli, from BNP Paribas’ FX trading desk in London was another bonus and gave an insight into working as a banker in one of the world’s largest financial institutions. Lastly, the lecturer Dr Pasquale Della Corte is always full of energy and encourages students to actively participate.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
On the academic side, I have received great feedback from lecturers on assignments, and I was always encouraged to do better and leverage my shortcomings. The simplicity of the website has helped me navigate through the career fairs and company presentations, all the while framing the development of my soft skills. Thanks to the above and Imperial’s imprinted work ethic, I was able to attend assessment centres for large institutions in the financial sector. This is a clear morale booster and directly rubs off on university life.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The Autumn term is a tremendous challenge that requires hard work and organisation. From the numerous coursework deadlines to the career interviews with firms, it is important to stay on top of the workload and prioritise certain aspects of the programme. To guide students, the Careers team is always on hand to help, from one-on-one CV sessions to assessment centre group preparations. Communication and working with other classmates are also central in maximising efficiency, all the while, growing your social network.
How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?
Despite the lockdown situation in London, the Business School has managed to create a dynamic virtual space and has provided a safe learning environment for students to prosper and continue collaborating. Imperial has also provided in-person facilities for students to work, complemented by access to data terminals and sports venues. While this period has been far from normal, the College has truly invested in solutions to facilitate social interactions and networking.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Unsurprisingly, the MSc Finance cohort is extremely diverse. Students come from a plethora of different social and professional backgrounds which allows for a refreshing perspective with a wider point of view. While the graduates are extremely talented and gifted on the academic side, they also know how to have fun. I have made friends with people from across the globe and will undoubtedly keep in touch with them for life.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Without hesitation, my favourite lecturer is Dr Harjoat Bhamra. While the Derivatives module is undeniably one of the most intimidating, Dr Bhamra insists on the importance of class interaction and communicates with students constantly to make sure everyone understands the complicated underlying theory. It is certainly one of the most challenging classes, but the reward is immeasurable. Not only does Derivatives help you master options theory, it provides the necessary building blocks for a potential career in financial research and opens up the door to other advanced modules such as Credit Risk and Advanced Options Theory. Through coursework transparency and hints of humour, Dr Bhamra has made the second term a very enjoyable one.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Imperial gathers a wealth of talented individuals within its community which has helped me build my social capital and network, not only with fellow students but also with members of the faculty. I am confident these newfound connections will be key in my career development.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the School have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The Business School has hosted some fantastic guest speakers and lectures from the finance industry. We had the opportunity to meet James Seppala, European Head of Real Estate at Blackstone through the Real Estate Investment module and Frank Smets, current Director General of Economics at the European Central Bank through the Banks, Regulation & Monetary Policy module, to name but a few. Marco Nanni, Vice President of Credit Restructuring at JP Morgan, is actually the lecturer for the Structured Credit and Equity elective. Lastly, another brilliant guest speaker at the Business School was Gym Shark’s founder, Ben Francis, who discussed the exponential business growth of his sports venture.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
In my opinion, it is pivotal for students to find an equilibrium between study and sport. As such, one of the first things I did when joining Imperial was signing for the Imperial College men’s football team. This has been one of the best decisions I have made this year, as I have met graduates from other cohorts and shared fantastic moments with them. I am also a member of Imperial College Investment Society, which hosts regular guest speakers and sends weekly newsletters with market recaps and investment pitches.
Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the MSc Finance cohort organised a five-a-side football tournament in June to strengthen the ties between the School’s streams. Students also organised regular football games between the MSc Finance class and other cohorts within the Business School including MSc Strategic Marketing and MSc Finance & Accounting. Some of us set up picnics in Hyde Park and Hampstead or went on tours around London.
How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?
I was able to make numerous friends in the Physics and Engineering cohorts at Imperial College through my involvement with the Imperial College Investment Society and football team. This close-knit collaboration between science and business is a clear comparative advantage for further research in the finance field.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Ever since 2007, amid an increase in regulations and financial market volatility, risk management has evolved as a profession in light of the new challenges it faces. Bolstered by this exciting environment, my ultimate career goal is to work as a senior risk officer in the public sector, ideally for the European Central Bank, to combine both corporate risk management experience and my background in public policy economics at the undergraduate level. Imperial has given me the tools necessary to break into the private sector by complementing my soft skills like pitching, teamwork and autonomous study with hard skills like programming in R and VBA.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have received offers from Nomura, for their Risk Summer Internship programme, and Schroders, for their Credit Risk two-year graduate programme. Nomura will focus on market and climate risk, establishing risk scenarios to protect the company against the financial impact of potential natural disasters or shifts in the structural economy on their liable products. On the other hand, the Schroders’ position aims attention at leveraging new machine learning techniques to compile and synthesise relevant public sources of information to diminish the exposure risk linked to affiliated financial institutions, in case of default.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
The answer is a resounding yes! While COVID has unfortunately constrained the level of on-site human interactions, being so close to the City of London and Canary Wharf is a real advantage. I was able to set up small coffee chats with several analysts from investment banks in London and bumped into a surprisingly high number of Imperial alumni across town.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Earl’s Court, within a two-minute walk from the station and a 20-minute walk to Imperial’s South Kensington campus. I studied at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle prior to joining the MSc Finance cohort and hence I have already lived in London during my school days. Earl’s Court is a fantastic place to reside. It is at the centre of London and a bike ride away from shops, parks, restaurants and gyms. Not to mention its proximity to Kensington High Street and Hyde Park!
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
As I mentioned previously, football has been a hobby of mine from a very young age. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have hindered opportunities to play team sports outdoors. As such I took on new hobbies, rediscovering the piano and investing large periods of time into trying to master chess.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
I attended an MSc programme information session as well as an MSc virtual drop-in around December before joining the Business School. Having enjoyed my undergraduate studies in economics, I hesitated when choosing between Imperial’s MSc Economics & Strategy for Business and MSc Finance programmes. These meetings helped me get a clearer sense of the wealth of modules available and aligned my career aspirations with the programme trajectories. It facilitated my decision-making process considerably by being able to communicate with faculty members and students directly, and I would recommend that any prospective student attend these sessions.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
The first tip I would give to any prospective student interested in joining MSc Finance is to make sure to have a clear career plan. While this might not materialise exactly as planned, it is a great way to set high standards and ambitions from the start to boost opportunities. I would also recommend staying up-to-date with current financial markets and global industry trends via financial news sources such as the Financial Times, the Economist or The Wall Street Journal.
On the psychological side, the easiest way to make connections is to just be yourself and open up to others. As such, I would definitely encourage applicants to get in touch with as many alumni as possible to get a feel for the programme.