Karen Ermel
Karen Ermel is a MSc Investment & Wealth Management class of 2017-18 student. After graduating from Imperial College Business School, Karen accepted a role as a Private Banking Graduate at Coutts.

About you

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

Before I started at Imperial College Business School, I worked actively in the family business, which helped me develop my organisational and interpersonal skills. I was also the President of my university’s Model United Nations organisation, for which I was in charge of providing training to members as well as meeting with the university team to collaborate on different projects.

Why did you decide to study MSc Investment & Wealth Management at Imperial College Business School?

I wanted to study MSc Investment & Wealth Management because I already had a general Master’s, and felt that it would offer added value to study another MSc that was more specific and tailored towards the career I wanted to go into. I knew that I wanted to work in wealth management before I applied to Imperial, so the programme was a logical choice for me. I choose to apply to the Business School because in my opinion studying here would offer me a tough, highly quantitative but rewarding experience that would set me apart in the London job market. I also really liked the personable approach Imperial has and felt that they really tried to help us make the right decision.

Programme

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

What I enjoy most about the programme is the people you meet. Imperial College Business School is such a motivational and inspirational place to be, and people who have similar (and sometimes not so similar) dreams and who work incredibly hard towards reaching their goals surround you. This makes it an incredibly motivational and rewarding place to be, since you are surrounded by like minded people who make you want to be the best possible version of yourself.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite modules were the electives in Wealth Management and Alternative Investments, and Behavioural Investment Management. I enjoyed them the most because I feel like these modules will be the most useful and applicable to my future job. These are both electives, so they are more tailored to your interests. I also really enjoyed the Derivatives module, even though I struggled with it while I was in the middle of it. After taking the exam, I really felt like I pushed myself to my limits and improved.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The most challenging part for me was the autumn term. Because there are so many things happening at the same time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re not in control. I was trying to make friends, network, stay on top of my work and apply for jobs at the same time and it was hard to keep a good balance, but it pushed me to develop myself in ways I didn’t think were possible before I started at Imperial.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

I would describe my cohort as incredibly diverse and passionate. Not only do we have different nationalities, we also have vastly different professional and academic backgrounds. It is so interesting to get closer to your cohort and to share your experiences and knowledge with others. It might be one of the most rewarding aspects of the programme. In my friendship group we don’t have two people with the same nationality and we are going to work in completely different areas of finance such as wealth management, fintech and trading. But that diversity is what makes it so interesting. I would also describe my cohort as driven and passionate. Some of my colleagues founded the Student Investment Fund and have been working so hard on including everyone to take part in the experience.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

I think my favourite lecturer was Amit Goyal, as he explained his material with heart and soul, and his enthusiasm and light-heartedness often really made our day.

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

Looking back, I really liked that we had assigned groups in the September and autumn term, as this allowed you to get to know different people and to learn how to work with people from different backgrounds (both culturally and academically). It pushed you to work hard and to contribute.

Opportunities

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

As a student ambassador, I got the chance to attend the Women in Finance Breakfast and to deliver a talk about what it means to be a female in a finance programme. It was incredibly rewarding to be included on the speakers list with other inspiring women who, in my eyes, really made it. Being active as a student ambassador I really got to improve my personal speaking and networking skills.

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

I really liked the career workshops where you got to practice for interviews. Workshops such as the group discussion and presentation workshops were incredibly helpful because you got really useful and personal feedback that helped you do better in interviews and assessment centres.

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

I am a student ambassador and I am the academic leader for the Investment & Wealth Management SSC. I am also active in Imperial’s Model United Nations society.

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

I think I have benefited by being able to create a network of like minded and inspiring people that I will stay in touch with long after we have left Imperial College Business School.

Career

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

I want to work in a client-facing role in Wealth Management, which I knew before I came to the Business School, but being here has helped me solidify these plans and helped me realise why I would fit in this environment.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I have accepted a position as Private Banking Graduate at Coutts, a private bank here in London. On the graduate programme, I will be taking on a more client-facing role and will be working towards becoming either a private banker or a wealth manager.

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

I used Careers as often as I could, as it really helped me perfect my interview skills and to help me discover what really makes me stand out when being compared to other candidates. I was there every week to practice for interviews, but also took part in the group discussion and presentation workshops as a preparation for assessment centres. Careers was incredibly helpful for me and taught me so many things that I’ll use in every interview I’ll ever do.

London location

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

I really enjoyed living in London, as it was easy to attend networking events, interviews and assessment centres. Companies also often visited the campus to give presentations, which I believe was also because of the central location.

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

I live in GradPad Wood Lane , which I really enjoyed. It is a safe and nice place to live when you’re a student, since all the amenities are there. There was a study room, communal areas and good transport links, which I really enjoyed.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?

In my spare time I really like to hang out with friends and to learn new languages. I took both French and Spanish classes here at Imperial in the autumn and spring term. In the autumn term we didn’t really have time to travel, but in the spring and summer term we definitely did. With friends we went to places such as Portsmouth, Cambridge, Oxford and Dover, and we took a weekend trip to Madrid. The spring and summer term allow you to travel if you plan your work accordingly, so that’s definitely what I’d recommend.

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

I think moving to London (from Belgium) was quite easy for me, as I booked GradPad before I arrived here, so I didn’t have to worry about accommodation. The process of getting a bank account was quite straightforward once you get all the necessary papers. As long as you prepare, you’ll be fine.

Tips

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

I attended the Women in Finance Webinar, which was interesting to get students’ perspectives on the programme, as we could also submit questions.

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

If you’re thinking of applying for the programme, do your research and make sure you know that this is the programme you want to apply for. MSc Investment & Wealth Management is highly quantitative, which is something you should be aware of. I think that the thing that Imperial really looks for is passion and a genuine interest in finance, so having the right mind set and reasons for coming here will be the best start you can get.

Role
Pre-MSc Investment & Wealth Management
Nationality
Belgium
Undergraduate Education :

BSc & MSc Business Administration, Catholic University of Leuven

Job after Imperial College Business School :

Coutts, Private Banking Graduate