Abdelrahman Fathalla

Abdelrahman Fathalla

About you

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

I have a varied background in terms of work experience. I grew up working for my family’s business, a retail organisation in Egypt. I was exposed to the finance world through the interactions the company had with investment bankers and Private Equity professionals. These interactions encouraged me to understand more about the finance industry, and as such, I undertook a couple of internships in Private Equity in Egypt. Later on, during my undergraduate studies in Economics, I spent a year working at Morgan Stanley in the Sales & Trading division in London. The experience was great and allowed me to develop both professionally and personally; it was also when I decided that an MSc Finance at Imperial would be invaluable towards my professional development and would greatly improve my career prospects.

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

Imperial’s MSc Finance is constantly ranked as one of the top Finance Master’s programmes in the international rankings, specifically the FT’s ranking, where this year it ranked as the top programme in the UK. It also has a very positive reputation of being a very quantitative and challenging programme, which was very appealing to me. Moreover, the programme is also well known within the industry; professionals hold it in high regard and consider it as one of the most challenging and applicable finance programmes.

Programme

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

The best part of the programme for me were the people who I met. I met a wide range of people, from those who are very interested in sport to those who prefer to read academic papers in their free time, however, everyone had a shared work ethic and interest in finance – it was very motivating to be surrounded by them. It was by interacting with them that I was pushed to develop and improve my work ethic, and I enjoyed some of the best moments I had that year with them. I am sure that we will all stay in touch for the future.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

This might be a slightly unconventional pick given my choice of area of finance in which to pursue a career, but I really enjoyed the Derivatives module. Even though I am interested in Corporate Finance and Private Equity, I felt that the Derivatives module represented an incredibly well-taught module which was very challenging, and it pushed me out of my intellectual comfort zone. I think the understanding I developed of these abstract instruments, through the module, will be very useful. I will also be able to apply the approach I adopted to study that module to any new intellectual challenge I come across. Not to mention that I can now derive the Black-Scholes equation almost from first principles.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

The workload can be challenging at times, and the subjects are difficult in the sense that they are well developed and do not just allow you to have a shallow understanding of the topics covered. We also had to submit multiple pieces of coursework every week, which at times can be challenging given that interviews and other obligations can clash with these deadlines, but this challenge helped me improve my ability to utilise my friends in the groups I was part of and be able to work more efficiently as part of a team. These challenges, and more, are part of the experience of the Master’s at the Business School and they allow you to learn how to become more efficient, better at working within teams, and be able to work diligently to realise your objectives and those of your team.

Did you benefit from our affiliation with the CFA?

Yes, I received some of the material available for the CFA exam which was very useful in helping me study.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

The cohort is very diverse, and it is full of incredibly interesting people, who many of them I believe will be my friends for life. I have really learned from their diversity and was motivated and encouraged by their work ethic and experiences. I can honestly say this cohort has been the most interesting group of people I have had the opportunity to study with. And as I mentioned, the relationships I built with people I met on the cohort and on other programmes is one of the best things about studying at Imperial.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

The group work aspect of the programme is a great introduction to the reality of work life. I can genuinely say that working in groups at Imperial has prepared me to work with other people outside of the Business School. I learned that regardless of the context I work in, some people will be more challenging to work with and I have to be tactical to achieve the group’s objectives. I also developed my ability to debate topics and know when to make concessions and when to take a stand – skills which are very useful when working.

Opportunities

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

I do not think that I would have been able to secure as many interviews and offers from leading international boutiques and large Investment Banks without the Imperial brand name behind me or the knowledge and exposure the programme provided me. I also think that one of the greatest things about Imperial is that everyone here is incredibly smart and has achieved so much to get to this incredibly selective place. This creates an environment that really helps you grow and develop both intellectually and personally.

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

I really enjoyed the Private Equity guest lectures. It was very interesting to know more about the different subfields within Private Equity directly from some of the leading practitioners in the world.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?

I loved being part of the wider community. I got to meet people from across the different disciplines, and I have made some very good friends who study in different departments.

Career

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

I wanted to build a career in Corporate Finance or Private Equity, and Imperial empowered me to break into the industry, and thankfully I have secured my current role, which I enjoy greatly.

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

I accepted a summer internship position with Nomura Investment Bank within the M&A team. I chose this offer over a couple of other offers because of the specific team I was joining and the deal flow they have. That internship proved to be a valuable experience and was useful towards helping me get into Private Equity and secure my current full-time role with Campbell Lutyens in their Private Equity Secondary & Advisory team.

How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?

The Careers service was invaluable in helping guide my applications, providing advice, and ensuring that the applications I sent out were checked and filled to a very high standard.

London location

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

Absolutely, it is so much easier to network and meet people when you are a tube journey away. I have had the opportunity to meet with some directors from different financial institutions to get their advice on my career. I do not think I would have been able to meet the same people had I not lived in London. The fact that the majority of leading financial institutions in the world are present in the same city as Imperial makes it easier not just for us students to meet employers and network with them, but also for prospective employers to visit the university to hold recruitment events.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? 

I think London is the foodie capital of the world. I love going to new restaurants and discovering new dishes and cuisines. There is always something going on in London. More generally, it is impossible to be bored here – I cannot stress this enough: whatever you are into, you will find it in London.

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I think London is an amazing city, and whoever moves here should embrace the move and try to make the most out of their time in London. The programme, once you start, might seem overwhelming, but it is very important to be able to make the time to enjoy what London has to offer.

Tips

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

I would recommend that they go ahead and apply ASAP. This is a very competitive programme, and the positions get filled up quite quickly. If you are considering doing an MSc Finance, then Imperial College Business School is one of the best places in the world for this.

Abdelrahman-Fathalla

MSc Finance 2017- 18

Nationality: Egyptian

Undergraduate Education: BSc Economics, University of Bath

Job after Imperial College Business School: Private Equity Secondary & Advisory, Campbell Lutyens

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