Tolga Gonulla
MSc Finance
Undergraduate education:

BSc (Hons) Economics, University of Warwick

About you

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

Before starting the MSc Finance programme at Imperial College Business School, I was working at JP Morgan Chase as an Investment Banking Off-Cycle Analyst covering cross-border M&A deals.

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

Having studied Economics in my undergraduate and having completed various internships in banking, I wanted to sharpen my skills and learn about the parts of finance I haven’t covered through optional modules and work experience. The reason I picked Imperial to pursue the MSc Finance programme was the focus on the technical aspects of finance and the opportunity to get exposed to both conventional and up and coming topics through optional modules such as Machine and Deep Learning with Finance Applications and Private Equity and Venture Capital.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was fortunate enough to receive the Future Leaders scholarship. Being recognised for my hard work and accomplishments by a well-known institution like Imperial gave me a confidence boost and motivated me to get the most out of my studies at the Business School.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?

The programme is structured in such a way that students can tailor it to their needs and receive the most out of their time at Imperial. I personally wanted to have a diverse group of modules, without having too much weight on one specific part of finance and focus more on application than theory. By having the flexibility to pick modules from a wide range of electives and decide on whether to do the research or the applied project, I managed to personalise the programme to how I enjoyed learning.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module has been the Private Equity and Venture Capital. Learning from a professor who has worked in the industry and listening to guest lecturers talk about current trends in the industry made this module very fruitful. Furthermore, the applied nature of the coursework allowed me to grasp certain aspects of theory much better through hands-on experience.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The most rewarding part has been joining a network of intelligent and passionate individuals. Having the opportunity to work with, and learn from my peers who have been the top students at their previous studies and/or worked for well-known financial institutions has made my experience at Imperial especially rewarding.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Tackling job applications and the coursework in the first term has been the most challenging part. That said, it was clear that Imperial made every effort to structure the first term in such a way that the students could allocate a decent amount of time on sending applications.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort is best described as diverse. This is not only in reference to my classmates’ cultural backgrounds but also to their academic backgrounds. I have met people from across the globe and from a diverse group of degrees, including both natural and social sciences.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

All my professors were particularly successful in their fields. Most of them had worked in the industry before and those who were focused on the academic aspects were educated at the top universities around the world. As a result, I couldn’t pick just one to be my favourite.


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

One of the many opportunities I had at Imperial was improving my coding skills. With the financial industry embracing technological changes, coding has become one of the most sought-after skills. Imperial structures the finance programmes in such a way that provides the students with many opportunities to use coding. I had experienced coding in many languages including R, C++, Python and MATLAB through both optional and core modules.

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

Many of the events organised by the Careers team has helped me not only better understand my skills and how to showcase them during interviews, but also improve my leadership and social skills.

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

As a Student Ambassador, I was able to help prospective students learn more about the MSc Finance programme. Knowing how important of a decision picking a master’s degree is, I found this experience to be really rewarding. Having been in their situation before, I knew exactly what they were going through and what answers they were after. Being able to share my story and guide them through their selection was particularly fulfilling and enjoyable.

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

I have worked as the Senior Analyst covering the TMT sector for the Student Investment Fund. This was an incredible opportunity to get hands-on experience and apply what I have learned during the lectures. I had six analysts working in the TMT sector team, and together we were asked to make investment recommendations every month, by doing in-depth company analysis and building valuation models to generate target prices. As each member was from a different degree, it was also a great opportunity to socialise across programmes.


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

Having had work experience before beginning my studies at Imperial, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do after I graduated. That said, I kept an open mind about potential opportunities. Imperial has helped me with getting a better understanding of different opportunities in the financial markets and equipped me with the required skills to have the flexibility to join a broader range of jobs in both the buy-side and the sell-side.

London Location

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

Having attended a university outside London for my undergraduate degree, I can easily say that being in London provides better opportunities. When it comes to networking through employer events or having coffee chats with Imperial alumni, living in London is a must. Especially with reaching out to a fellow alumnus, it goes a long way having the meeting face-to-face rather than over the phone.

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

I live in Hammersmith, which is only a 20-minute tube ride to South Kensington and a 30-minute ride to more central locations. The distance to the campus was the main reason I chose to live there.

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

In my free time, I enjoy going around London and visiting as many museums as I can. London is not only a financial hub but also a cultural hub. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this by getting to know the city a little better during their free time.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

Moving to London is an incredible opportunity for many students. The city has a very international population and the opportunity to get exposed to diversity both culturally and socially makes living in London very rewarding. The main challenge of moving is to find decent accommodation at a reasonable price. My advice to anyone moving to London would be to get excited about your time in the city but also start searching for housing at least a month or two in advance.


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

I didn’t attend any information sessions when I was an applicant but I did attend some when I became a Student Ambassador. I strongly encourage everyone to attend either an online webinar or an on-campus session, as you can get most of your questions answered and speak to current students to get a better understanding of the degree you are applying to.

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

The most important advice I can give is to showcase a genuine passion for finance throughout the application and do so by giving specific examples. Having the technical skills is important but showing that you are genuinely interested goes a long way. Also, with regards to the video interview stage, try to get used to speaking to a computer screen before attempting the interview. Remember, practice makes perfect!

MSc Finance
Undergraduate education:

BSc (Hons) Economics, University of Warwick