Programme: MSc Financial Technology
Education: BEng Mathematics and Computer Science, Imperial College London
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
The majority of my career to date has been working in the Fintech space. Namely, working as a Software Engineer at Liquidnet, a global institutional investment network that connects asset managers with liquidity.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Financial Technology at Imperial College Business School?
I want to apply my computer science background to the quantitative finance field. Having already experienced first hand Imperial’s high standards of education, Imperial College Business School was my first and only choice in my postgraduate applications. The Business School’s MSc Financial Technology programme is a unique blend of technology and quantitative finance modules, something that I hadn’t really seen on offer from other institutions when searching for MSc’s to apply for.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I was very pleased to receive the Imperial Business Scholarship. The Scholarship greatly reduced my financial burden of paying towards the programme.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
I like the programme’s blend of technology and finance modules; it’s exactly what I wanted.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
The Investments & Portfolio Management module has been my favourite so far. The lecturer Professor Robert Kosowski brings a wealth of experience to the module; both in academia and working as a consultant in the industry. I’ve spent a good part of my career building trading analytics platforms, but it wasn’t until this module I could really put myself in the mindset of an investor and know what kind of market signals to look out for, how to construct a diversified portfolio, and understand other fundamental concepts in quantitative finance.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
I find the opportunity of being in an environment of mathematics and finance really rewarding.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
I’d say that time management is the most challenging part of the programme. Between juggling commitments to the programme itself, the student investment fund, and my commitments outside of Imperial there are a few “crunch time” weeks of the term that can be tough to push through. However, while the programme itself is challenging, with its regular and rigorous assessments, the quantitative finance knowledge I’m learning is invaluable.
How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?
Initially had my concerns before starting the programme. Namely how well the student-lecturer interaction dynamic could be preserved in a remote learning environment. However, the programme team has done a good job of ensuring that lectures run smoothly and are always recorded. Each lecture has an accompanying ‘co-pilot’, who manages the online lecture session and relays student questions to the lecturer. This co-pilot preserves the student-lecturer dynamic as best can be under the circumstances.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The 2020-21 cohort is made up of a diverse range of students from different nationalities and academic backgrounds. The undergraduate degrees that the students have include Finance, Financial Engineering, Economics, Engineering, and Mathematics. The group projects we are allocated to are formed with people from different backgrounds, so I’ve had great exposure to fellow students from all walks of life.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
I thoroughly enjoyed Professor James Sefton’s ‘Business Valuation’ foundation module taught in September. Considering how different the module’s content was to my computer science background, Professor James Sefton did an excellent job in getting me up to speed with the preliminary knowledge needed for the programme. His lectures are both engaging and entertaining, in spite of the current remote learning restrictions.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Being able to work as a Quantitative Analyst in the Imperial Student Investment Fund. It’s proving to be a fantastic way to apply the theoretical content I’ve learnt from my quantitative finance modules in a practical setting. The fund is extremely well respected and unlike other student investment funds I’ve come across, Imperial’s fund is given hard cash (as opposed to virtual money) by the Business School to invest.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I attended a dining etiquette masterclass hosted by William Hanson, an etiquette tutor at the “The English Manner” institute. I’ve been familiar with Mr Hanson’s books and aware of the institute’s courses for a while, so was delighted to have the opportunity to attend one of his workshops.
This masterclass is just one example of the diverse range of workshops that Imperial has to offer.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
Working as a Quantitative Analyst in the Student Investment Fund. Officially, I work in the Data Engineering team, where we are looking to centralise the fund’s data fetching requirements into one self-contained system. More recently, I’ve also been attached to the Momentum team, where I’m overhauling and productionising the team’s codebase.
How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?
I’ve yet to have a job that I’ve applied to where I wasn’t interviewed by someone who went to Imperial! In fact, one of my former managers graduated from the same programme as me just as I was entering first year. From my experience there aren’t many corners of the London community where you wouldn’t find an Imperial alumnus. If you end up working in the City of London or Canary Wharf, I’d wager that you’re not more than 100m away from an Imperial alumnus on any day.
It has been a really useful selling point to be able to talk about the same university that your interviewer went to; a great way of building up a rapport with your potential future employer.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Ultimately, I want to be pursuing more quantitative roles in my career. My perfect job would be one that combined a healthy amount of programming, maths and finance in the role. Quantitative Analyst or Quantitative Developer best fits this job description. My time so far at Imperial College Business School has been instrumental in getting me up to speed with the relevant maths and finance modules.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Without a doubt, particularly if you want to work in London after you graduate. Having the Imperial stamp of approval on your CV will help you go places. It's a sign of the hard work and the vetting that you’ve gone through to graduate. Furthermore, it’s a great talking point in any networking events you attend when you inevitably come across a fellow alumnus.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I used to live in London during my bachelor’s and for two years after I graduated. I started off in halls of residence at Earl’s Court, then moved to Hammersmith (a hot spot for Imperial Students) and later to South Kensington. At the moment I live in my house in Guildford which is a train’s commute from London in the south-east of England.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I co-founded a charitable organisation called ‘Singing For Sri Lanka’. Its original purpose was to raise funds for children affected by the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Now I have expanded this to give financial scholarships for underprivileged gifted children in Kandy, Sri Lanka. My organisation was featured in Sri Lankan national TV and radio in 2019. We currently provide monthly donations to 18 Sri Lankan children.
I am very interested in modern slavery issues in the UK and worked to solve a modern slavery issue that had been going on for ten years. This was difficult to do because in the beginning, in spite of overwhelming evidence the police wanted to pretend it was not happening. After months of pressure to the police and the support of with Modern Slavery UK, I successfully gained the victims two days off per month for the first time in ten years. I truly enjoyed this experience.
Pre-pandemic, I was a regular on the performing arts scene, taking part in as much student theatre and amateur dramatics as I could. Highlights for me would have been in the summer when I used to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform a show with friends.
Now in the COVID-19 era, when I’m not programming for work or for any Business School coursework, I enjoy programming for my personal projects.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
London is a marvellous city to live in; its rich history gives a world of sightseeing and plenty of fun things to do.
The obvious challenge is dealing with the difficulties brought about by pandemic. If living in London is a completely foreign experience with you, and you don’t yet know anyone in London, I’d recommend living in student accommodation provided by the College. I would strongly dissuade anyone thinking of living by themselves, especially with the “wax-on-wax-off” nature of the repeated national (or local) lockdowns. If student accommodation is not to your liking, consider looking for shared houses to rent in an area where other Imperial students live.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
I attended an on-campus information session, which I found helpful to get some of my questions about the course answered. Furthermore, the campus information session had one of the academic leaders for the course presenting, so attending turned out to be the perfect opportunity to put a face to the application that I was submitting to Imperial College Business School.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
For those thinking of applying, I’d highlight your work experience and any relevant extracurricular activities. Both the Business School and any prospective employers are looking to take on what they see as future business leaders of the world. Your work experience is a good measure of how successful you have been at applying what you’ve studied in a professional environment and a good showcase of any leadership skills you’ve demonstrated.
Do not hesitate to reach out to any current students you may find on Linkedin; we are a friendly bunch and would welcome the opportunity to expand our network and answer your questions.