BEng Mechanical Engineering, University College London
Global Markets Summer Intern, BNP Paribas
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
My work experience prior to Imperial College Business School was mainly experimental, and it served the purpose of identifying my fields of interest in the Accounting or Engineering industries. I eventually figured out that they do not fit my personal aspirations and I needed something more challenging and fast-paced. This is where I started asking friends and people that had similar pathways as mine up to that point what I could do. I eventually decided that finance was the path I wanted to follow, and since I had zero experience in finance (even in economics), I needed to think of what my next step would be. Inevitably, I decided to do a finance related MSc.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering at Imperial College Business School?
Finance is fast paced, constantly evolving and now almost technologically advanced and this programme would provide me with the necessary quantitative/software-based competencies that the industry requires nowadays. I wanted to study on a programme that had a coding aspect to it, then I found out about MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering went into more detail about it. I saw that it offered the quantitative nature I wanted to be in, and it also offered the opportunity to take electives outside of the scope, such as Machine Learning, Bid Data in Finance, C++ and many more.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
Firstly, the vast array of electives available enabled me to pick specifics that interested me the most. Secondly, I was a successful candidate for the New York International elective which was a real highlight for me, and a lifetime opportunity was seized. The high level of lecturers was also truly impressive and some of them were outstanding in every aspect of their module. Lastly, the extensive networking and organisation of the programme was a big draw card for me.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I would say Stochastic Calculus has been my favourite module. I happen to like these more quantitative/mathematical style modules and understand them better. I also come from an engineering background and during our undergraduate we were encouraged to find the single solution to every problem we faced, and this module has the same objective, so it comes naturally to me.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
I believe that in general it is an extremely packed programme in terms of work and networking, but in my opinion, if you work hard throughout and manage to get the results, the study breaks provided are amazing. This means a coursework heavy term but when you’re on holidays you get to enjoy them until the Business School opens again for classes.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
I personally come from an engineering background and inevitably the most challenging part was the shift between engineering to finance. Looking back at the beginning of term one, it was really challenging – understanding the terminology, the economics behind finance and the volume of information that I had to process, in order to progress was mind-blowing. With hard work (and interest of course) I came from not knowing what a bond is, to derive the Black & Scholes formula (one of the backbones for pricing in the industry).
Did you attend an international elective?
I had the privilege to attend the New York international elective, which was on quantitative investing. It was a week full of amazing experiences, great people and lots of fun. In terms of the programme content, it is a packed module that contains five lectures during the weekdays and an intense project that requires some prior practice and knowledge (this is all explained during the application process). The highlights however were the unbelievable networks that our professor Dr Andrei Kirilenko and Imperial had.
Not only did we visit the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street, which is what we all grew up watching in the movies and aspired to visit one day, we also went to modern startups such as the IEX. The highlight was our visit to Goldman Sachs; we had the honour to have one of Goldman’s partners, the Global Co-Head of the Securities Division, Marty Chavez, talk to us about the industry and have a Q&A session as well. The advice, insights and even his own story were truly priceless, and I consider this moment as a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many people will get - if you have the chance for this opportunity you should take it! Lastly, the programme representatives that came with us were truly outstanding and very helpful throughout the journey. They provided us with the necessary information and of course, the leisure activities that we so much enjoyed.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
I would call it a well-diversified cohort. It consists of different backgrounds from a vast array of nationalities with a mix of both students and professionals.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
My favourite two professors are Professor Paul Asquith and Professor Robert Kosowski. Firstly, Professor Asquith is one of the greatest lecturers I have ever had. He taught us Risk Management & Valuation, which is not a field that interests me that much. He has excellent communication skills with his students and a unique way of teaching, that contained a different nature from what we are used to. Professor Kosowski is great at teaching and getting the students’ attention, and his lectures combine some real-life examples that make it on the top of my list.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
I think the greatest opportunity at Imperial has been the extensive networking exposure provided from industry leaders. We have had countless opportunities to attend recruitment presentations from almost all the leading banks, consulting firms and other industries if desired. Also, the alumni connection that Imperial has is outstanding! It’s great to have the opportunity to speak with alumni who had the same pre-career path as we did, and it always feels good to hear from them.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I have attended some Trading workshops which I found quite handy. Also, the Careers service provides excellent resources in terms of anything that has to do with landing a job - such as technical interview practice, CV consultation, an emotional intelligence lecture and more.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I have been a Quantitative Analyst at the Imperial College Business School investment fund (Imperial’s first real student led investment fund with assets of around £100,000). It has been a great experience, my time was successful in developing a trading strategy that will be implemented with a stop loss in the markets.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
I think because Imperial is such a prestigious university it says a lot to potential employers when they see the Business School on our CV’s. I have to say that it feels good to be part of the Imperial community.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My future career goals are to start my career as a Trader and then once I establish good foundations, step into different fields of the continuously developing world of investment banks, since they are subject to unpredictable dynamics in terms of technological advancements and financial products.
I will have the opportunity to do that during my summer internship. Towards the end of the second term I managed to secure a summer internship at BNP Paribas in London, in the Global Markets division where I will gain exposure to the trades executed, as well as the financial products traded.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
London certainly puts the Business School and our position into an advantageous situation in terms of industry exposure. Since all financial institutions are mainly based in London, it is certainly easier for them to perform recruitment presentations somewhere close to their jobs. Let’s not forget that we are talking about a competitive industry in terms of work hours and intelligence. I also happen to like the intensity of London as well, how well organised it is and its excellent commuting services.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Queensway/Bayswater. I chose this location due to its accessibility to central London, as well as how close it is from campus despite being above Hyde Park. I personally think it was a very good choice (a 15-minute walk through Hyde Park to arrive on campus – same with commuting).
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I work out at the gym daily, even during exam periods (and yes, I have time for it because I make time for it). I like to be organised with my daily routines and go out with friends during weekends. I also like to play football when I can. All these can be achieved only with good organisation and they depend upon each student’s goals and priorities.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Although everything we need to know in terms of the programme is clearly explained in the website and brochure, I have also attended an on-campus information session. It was more to see what is going on around the Business School daily and ask questions about the application process. I also wanted to have a conversation with Imperial representatives in order to better understand what life at Imperial would be like.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
I would say that you need to see if the nature of the programme suits your interests and your ambitions. If it does, be prepared for a challenging but truly enjoyable year! It will expand your network of friends and maybe future colleagues, but most importantly teach you the necessary content and skills required to work following the programme. Finally, as a person transitioning from engineering to finance, a piece of advice for the people coming from similar backgrounds (mathematics and engineering mainly), would be to keep an open mind. The way you learn and understand finance will be completely different.