Academic and industry experience before Imperial
I tried to get exposure to as many different areas in finance as possible, in order to find out which one suits me the best. During my internship in Societe Generale, which I completed in the bank’s corporate finance department, I had the amazing opportunity to observe the inner functions of a multinational financial services company. I was shown and talked through the various products the bank offers, and the deals it advises on. While interning at PMC Treasury, I attended the joint meetings, where London and New York office discussed their progress and the short and long term objectives. During these discussions, I learned about the differences between the UK’s and the USA’s business cycles and the key drivers behind them. From supporting the risk management team in their work, I leanred how financial derivatives are constructed and priced, and observed live trades.
Studying MSc Finance
Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
During my undergraduate studies, I figured out I wanted to deepen my knowledge of finance and pursue a career in investment banking. The intellectual rigour MSc Finance programme at Imperial College Business School is known for, meant that it will be a superb preparation for my career aspirations. It also gathers top-notch graduates, and that is the kind of environment I wanted to study in, as I’ve always thrived best when surrounded by bright and ambitious peers.
What makes the MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School unique?
From studying MSc Finance at ICBS, you enjoy the benefits of being taught by the teachers from a world-renowned faculty and guest speakers from the leading financial institutions. The programme has a strong quantitative base, but offers a broad range of electives, so you can really tailor it to your interests. The CFA partner programme status is also one of the many perks that come with this MSc.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
I really enjoyed how applicable all of the modules are. After explaining a theory or a model, the lecturers would give us an example of this in the real world, and how it is applied in practice, how often it is used and how much attention the professionals are paying to it. In many modules we learned from extensive case studies, worked on them in groups and discussed them in class.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I enjoyed taking Behavioural Investment Management. Most of economics and finance theory assumes investors are rational, notes that’s not the case in reality but doesn’t deal with this problem. Behavioural Finance studies the effects of psychological and emotional factors on the economic decisions of individuals and the consequences for markets. This module is taught by Greg B. Davies and Arnaud de Servigny, who built a world’s first investment management team that applied behavioural finance framework (in Barclay’s Wealth and Investment Management division).
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Intelligent, driven, well-rounded, and I’d probably put most emphasis on the last quality. You can find smart, educated young people in many lecture theatres. What really impressed me when I walked into first class with my Imperial MSc Finance coursemates was how versatile the whole group was. Everybody did really well in their undergraduate degrees – whether it was economics, statistics or engineering. But they also did so much more besides their studies – we have decorated athletes and mathematicians, people who play three instruments or speak four languages, people with a number of coveted internships under their belt and those who are building new companies. It is really a pleasure to be a part of a group like that.
Opportunities from studying at Imperial
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Remember that with an education in finance you can work in virtually any industry. Imperial is home to some of the world’s best engineers and engineering students and therefore, the networking opportunities you have here are huge. For an example, I joined an exciting femtech startup, which is an experience I would have never had, had I not shared the library with the company’s founder.
Career and jobs
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I have benefited from the Career Service greatly. Career Advisors at Imperial College Business School have usually worked in big companies’ recruitment teams so they really know what your CV looks like to the people making decisions on your application and how you come across in interviews. What I really liked was that the advice I got was very precise – which word to use to describe a skill I have, how to phrase what my contribution was in a particular project. This guidance proved to be of immense value to me: I got the role in the first (and only) bank I applied to.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I decided to pursue a career in markets. Since joining Imperial, I got my foot in the door by securing a summer internship in Barclays Markets division, and I acquired a strong financial knowledge, which will serve me as a great advantage at the start of my career.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme? (please give details of roles you have accepted, what you will be doing and how you secured it).
I received an offer from Barclays, for a summer internship in sales. I will be doing two rotations, in equities and credit products. Barclays organises special ‘‘Presentation and Fast Track’’ events for a selected number of top UK universities. On the day, you have an opportunity to participate in a brain teaser exercise and a case study. If you perform well, you are invited for an interview, right there and then (the event is held in their Canary Wharf offices). If you pass theinterview, you are fast-tracked to the assessment centre, with the rest of the applicants who went through the regular process (online application, aptitude tests and phone/video interviews).
Life as a student in London
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Undoubtedly, no matter what it is that you want to do, London is the place to be and do it in. The very best from every field are here. There are so many networking events, conferences, talks and casual opportunities to meet people you can learn from. Even a simple chat with industry professionals might reveal something you haven’t thought about, a piece of information you’ll find useful in the interview or an industry trend that will make you rethink your career choices.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
(Wood Lane Gradpad Studios, Imperial recommends it to its students)
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
The great thing about London is that it will be what you make of it. There is something for everyone and every taste. I love exploring the city on my own. I would take the tube and pick a random station to exit at, and then walk around and see what the area has to offer. Favourites so far are the wacky Camden flea Market, charming St James’s park, the views from Parliament Hill and the nights in Soho. When I get homesick, I head to Ealing Common for some authentic Serbian food.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
I actually moved away from home at 18, when I started my studies in Manchester. Maybe that previous move made this one easier, or maybe it is because I am very independent, anyhow, I didn’t feel the challenges. The benefits are numerous – from the career opportunities to interesting events and places to visit. Oh, one piece of advice is if you have flatmates: please be considerate and don’t leave mess around you. It is no one’s duty to step in for your mom.
Advice for future students
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Think about what it is that you want to do after your masters. You don’t have to make a clear-cut year-by-year plan, but know the direction you want to go in, the business area or role that interests you. Then look at the modules this programme offers. Read their descriptions. Check out other Master’s programmes that ICBS offers, maybe one of them will suit your ambitions better? If you want to find out more about the Business School, there is a number of online and campus information sessions. Look up who the student ambassadors are and approach them. Feel free to contact the admissions team too if you have a very specific question regarding your application.