Sayaka Shiba, MSc Finance 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Finance

Bachelor of Business Administration (Finance and Economics concentrations), ESSEC Business School (Singapore, France)

Company and role secured after programme:

Bank of Japan

About you

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

I embraced various internship opportunities, including a fixed-income trading internship at JP Morgan Chase in Japan, a Business Development Internship at a startup hedge fund in Singapore, and a Sales Internship in a consulting company in Myanmar during my undergraduate studies. I also had research assistant experiences in the field of fintech at King’s College London Business School FinWork Futures Research Centre and Cambridge Alternative Finance Centre. These experiences allowed me to gain a holistic view of the diverse finance world.

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

I decided to study MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School as I have been attracted by its strength in quantitative finance and the emerging field of fintech. I wanted to equip me with the fundamental skills and knowledge of fintech and quantitative finance, as well as programming and statistical skills before embarking on a career in the more than ever engineering and quantitative-focused finance world today.

MSc Finance is a mix of traditional and emerging finance. The programme provides a unique learning opportunity to obtain quantitative finance knowledge and skills, which are underlined by the consolidated studies of fundamental finance theories and models. The programme also offers a wide range of electives in fintech and programming, such as Big Data in Finance, Blockchain and Crypto Assets, and Text Mining for Economics and Finance.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was fortunate enough to receive the Women in Finance scholarship. Not only did it financially assist my studies, but it also highly encouraged me to study harder to become a role model as a leading woman professional in the finance world. 


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

I fully enjoy the hybrid aspect of the program, combining both practical and theoretical approach to finance. For example, the Corporate Finance class in the first semester truly represents this syndicated approach. We studied the foundational concepts and theories in the lecture and based on that we examined the financial statement of an actual company in group work. Some modules are focused on academic theories such as financial mathematics and econometrics classes which allow us to gain a profound understanding of the mathematical and statistical background of fundamental financial models and financial analysis, while other modules, such as R programming for finance, are application-based. These syndicated approaches of both theory and applied-focused led me to truly appreciate and apply the financial concepts to the real world.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module has been Corporate Finance provided by Professor Emiliano Pagnotta. It demonstrated the importance of “think deeply and critically” when it comes to corporate finance strategy. In the class, the emphasis was placed on appreciating the potential challenges and consideration in applying the theoretical framework to real-word corporate financing problems, and I found the importance for the company to effectively communicate with stakeholders about corporate finance.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The most rewarding part of the programme that you can spend the intellectually-challenging year with highly-motivated classmates. You are not alone when tackling sophisticated financial problems. Your classmates will give another perspective and guide you to a more profound answer to the multifaceted finance questions. It is not only about the questions in classes, but also with regards to the career, your classmates, as well as Imperial alumni, will be strong supports of your journey in the finance world and open up your career.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

I would say, “the first is maths. the second is maths, and the third is maths.” You need to take time to tackle and truly understand the mathematical background of financial theories and models. The programme undoubtedly strengthens your mathematical ability and helps you accelerate your finance career. Also, it can be a challenging year in terms of time-management as you need to study and work on job applications concurrently.

Did you benefit from our affiliation with the CFA?

I benefited from the CFA exam preparation. I used preparation material provided with a student discount and will take the CFA level 2 exam in May. Also, I was able to maintain motivation thanks to many classmates who took the exam at the same time as me.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

I have experienced both on-campus and remote teaching. Remote work and studies were not as lonely as I expected because I have been able to feel a sense of connectedness with other classmates through active interaction online. I believe this unprecedented experience was a rewarding learning opportunity for me to prepare for future working styles and learn effective communication both online and offline.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort is best described in three words: passionate, international, and hard-workers. Every single member of the cohort has specific career plans and makes extraordinal efforts to pursue their dream. I am certain that friendships with my cohort will be lifetime assets in both my professional and private life. 


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

The greatest opportunity I had received at Imperial is connecting with highly motivated classmates, alumni, and professors. I am certain that these connections will help me succeed in my future career.

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

The Careers workshop titled “Engage your audience and present with impact” was exceptionally useful in developing my presentation skills. It provided a unique perspective on how we can make an impact in interviews, presentations, and public speaking. The skills I brushed-up in this workshop helped me to succeed in my job interviews.

Many of the events organised by the Careers team have given me the technical tips to fully showcase my potential and passion during the interviews. Also, varied career sessions from different types of financial institutions opened my eyes to the breadth of financial services in today's fast-moving technology-driven business environment. I have discovered a passion for fintech and have shifted my career goals to be fintech-focused.

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

Yes, indeed, there were several on-campus and online social events, and I got to connect with many students from different programmes within the Business School. This helped to open up my perspective on future careers and life in general.

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

I actively participated in the events organised by other departments, and I expanded my connections across different programmes and communities at Imperial College London.


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

My future career goal is to contribute to the development and stability of the financial system in Japan, in Asia, and in the world, through the involvement in the fintech-related collaborative initiatives between the Bank of Japan and other Central Banks, and the private sector partners. The year I spent on the Imperial MSc Finance Programme has allowed me to fully expose myself to the community of those working or going to work in financial sectors and helped me to deepen my understanding of the financial world. I strongly believe that these connections and communication with financial professionals and scholars from different segments of finance will enrich my professional life.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I received a full-time offer from the Bank of Japan. Besides the solid background knowledge in finance and economics which I cultivated through modules, and the interview tips from Career Team helped my professional development. Yes, I received a full-time offer from the Bank of Japan. Besides the solid background knowledge in finance and economics which I cultivated through modules, the interview tips from Career Team helped my professional development. In the role secured, I will be assigned to several core business divisions of the Bank of Japan. I will gain a wide range of experiences in the varied fields of the Bank's primary operation, such as monetary policy and macroprudential policy-planning, payment and settlement system management, and macroeconomic and finance research.

In Japan, females in the finance world are still considered a minority. I want to become a role model. My ultimate dream is to contribute to financial stability and sustainable growth.

London Location

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

Yes, definitely. Being centrally located in London as a student allowed me to broaden my horizons and meet high-calibre students both inside and outside the Business School. There is a big Asian financial community in London. I embraced the opportunity to talk with a financial professional who pursued a bridging career in both Asia regions such as Singapore, Japan, China, and Europe. These meetups helped me to plan my future career more dynamically in response to this globalised world. Besides, the proximity of other universities in London allows you to frequently attend the seminars held at these universities as well.

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

I live in East London. I chose this area so I can integrate with the local London community. London is not just a finance centre, but also very cosmopolitan with people from diverse backgrounds. To expose me not only the university community but also to the local community allows me to fully appreciate and understand the city of London and the people living there who make it unique and culturally dynamic. 

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

I visit every corner of London regardless of the size. “Mindfulness” in nature is attracting the growing interest of successful leaders. The park visits allow me to relieve my stress and sharpens my essential skills such as memory, concentration, and emotional intelligence. 

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

The benefit of moving to London is that you can experience European and British culture. Every day you spend in London gives you new findings and discoveries about British culture, and help you truly appreciate the cultural and historical backgrounds of many findings and world-changing events. The most challenging part of London life is the high cost of living (it depends on where you are originally from, though). I advise you to collect information about the cost and lifestyle in London before moving. Once you move to London, fully take advantage of the fact that you are living in the centre of finance.


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

Unfortunately, I did not attend any information sessions due to the tight schedule of my internships. However, I contacted alumni and listened to their stories. I strongly encourage everyone to attend an online webinar so that you can be sure of the positioning of the programme in your career path, and better prepare for the interview.

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

Do your best. I promise that the one-year you spend at Imperial MSc Finance will be an asset and a turning point in your life. It is the best opportunity to open up your eyes and careers to the exciting future ahead of you!

Personally, my investment in the MSc Finance programme is the best I have made so far. I am certain that I will receive tremendous returns in the future from my wise human-capital investment decision! I believe in myself and my future.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

MSc Finance

Bachelor of Business Administration (Finance and Economics concentrations), ESSEC Business School (Singapore, France)

Company and role secured after programme:

Bank of Japan