Alina Kichaeva, MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering

BSc Mathematics, Business Management and Finance, Queen Mary University of London

About you

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

Before starting my Master’s, I had undertaken an undergraduate degree focusing on financial mathematics. While I was studying, I had an internship in finance as well as marketing. Working for a luxury magazine allowed me to investigate luxury markets to devise strategies for brand development to see industry benchmarks. Correspondingly, I was working as an assistant for a year. Execution and management reporting of financial statements and bank reconciliation of invoices helped me to get an insight into the financial industry and developed my interest in finance.

Why did you decide to study MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering at Imperial College Business School?

Finance has always been my principal career interest. However, I was never certain which specific sector was my prime interest. After completing a few modules related to coding and having done some internships in finance, I decided to continue the journey of two things that interest me: finance and programming. Imperial’s MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering incorporated both of those aspects while allowing me to better understand the financial sector. I was fascinated to learn multiple programming languages and use my coding skills to solve financial matters.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

This Master’s can be personalised to your goals. Having a chance to choose elective modules allowed me to focus on the skills that I want to acquire the most. I have learned a lot about programming languages and had a chance to use my previous mathematical and coding skills.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module so far has been Empirical Finance. We have learned about various econometrics models, case studies allowed us to understand the real application of various models and use those models ourselves in RStudio.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

One of the most rewarding parts of the programme is to realise that all the time and effort has paid off in various skills developed. This one-year Master’s is tough, and it is an amazing feeling when you understand the financial markets and you start to realise how theories you learned can be used in real-life scenarios.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

I believe that the amount of the material learned and the speed are the most challenging parts of the programme. It is important to stay on top of all the material and having a timetable to meet all the deadlines is critical to success.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

It is an honour to study with ambitious, self-motivated students. The diversity of classmates allows you to develop friendships with people all over the world with different educational levels, and allows you to learn from each other.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Dr Christopher Hansman who taught the Empirical Finance: Methods and Applications module. His strong interest in the subject as well as good communication skills allowed me to always be up-to-date with the subject and encouraged engagement in the class activities. His clear way of explaining the real-life examples made it clear how different types of analysis can help with real challenges.


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

An opportunity to be taught by top professors and having a chance to ask guest lecturers from top companies on how the subject we are learning helps their career, again, clarifies the importance of the knowledge taught.

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

The most memorable guest lecturer that gave me guidance and motivated me was Joseph Liu, who gave excellent advice about online interviews, an aspect of job applications which became one of the main types of interviews due to the pandemic.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

I really enjoyed a few events from Imperial FMCG Career Club and some Finance Club events were also motivating to attend.

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

During our studies, we were required to work on a variety of group coursework and projects which allowed me to meet with people online and learn how to collaborate, even with students from different time zones. During the last term Imperial offered coffee meetings which were a great opportunity to meet people in such uncertain times.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

Since campus was closed during lockdown, it was a difficulty to make many connections. However, I still met many lovely people online through multiple group projects.


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

My main long-term goal is contributing to the resolution of global contemporary issues, resolving global mergers. Imperial helped me to develop a strong skillset necessary to cultivate my specialty in risk and finance to become an influencing figure in financial management and consultancy. For the moment, I am planning on applying my quantitative skills and my soft skills to develop a good career path and develop my skillset at my future job.

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

I have had a lot of help on making a good CV and the career advisors have helped me to use my LinkedIn efficiently.

London Location

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

I can say without a doubt that London is one of the best cities for a finance student to live. There are a lot of companies and employers which arrange events with the Business School and outside. Anyone can find events which fit their interests. For example, before the lockdown, going to an event hosted by Capgemini helped me to realise which career path I want to take and made me understand how important it is for a company to have a good working environment.

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

I live in the Paddington area. It takes only 30 mins to walk from my home to Imperial, which is convenient and allows me to take a nice walk between studies.

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

In my spare time I love taking walks, especially with my friends, London is an amazing city that should be explored. This city doesn’t end in Oxford Circus and areas further than Zone 1 should be explored. When we were in lockdown, I enjoyed discovering films which I never had time to watch before.

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

Studying previously in London helped me to integrate into the community quicker. Finding a flat is the first thing that future students should start researching to find an area which would suit you the best. Luckily, London is a super diverse city which will allow you to meet all sorts of people and find what best suits your interests and career path.


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

I would strongly recommend this programme to anyone interested in quantitative finance. This programme is very diverse, and anyone will find an area of their interest within the programme. One of my main tips is to clearly show your interest in this specific programme and highlight that the abilities you have already will allow you to take all the opportunities that Imperial has. This programme is without a doubt extremely challenging, but the skills it equips you with will be the right skillset to start a job in finance on a strong footing. Keep going and put in the best effort you can, because all hard work will pay off.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering

BSc Mathematics, Business Management and Finance, Queen Mary University of London