BEN Computer Engineering, American University of Beirut
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
During my undergraduate degree in computer engineering, I had the opportunity to complete two internships. The first was at a financial engineering firm in Lebanon where I worked as a software engineer in a team developing an automated trading application for a client in Hong Kong, as well as a cryptocurrency project to capture arbitrage opportunities. The second internship was at the Central Bank of Lebanon where I rotated across different desks to learn more about various financial operations, with a focus on the trading desk.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering at Imperial College Business School?
As a former computer engineering student, I really enjoy coding. But after completing my internships and being exposed to the financial industry, I decided that I want to have a career where I can put my technical skills to work in finance. Since I was studying computer engineering and my financial knowledge was somewhat limited, I decided to pursue a Master's in Risk Management & Financial Engineering to strengthen my qualitative and quantitative financial knowledge while applying both my programming and mathematical skills to the field of finance.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
What I really enjoy about this programme is that it has exposed me to various fields in finance, allowing me to pick the area I would like to develop the most through focusing my electives. Also, coming from a computer engineering background I wanted to learn how to employ my coding skills in finance and this programme definitely allowed me to achieve that.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module is the Financial Engineering core module. In this module, we focus on understanding the details of derivatives pricing models and their practical applications. This module was exceptionally useful in job interviews.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The most rewarding part of the programme for me has been the amount of knowledge I’ve gained in this short period. This programme is really packed with work but at the end of each term, after the final exams, I realise how proud and happy I am that I chose to pursue this programme at Imperial College Business School.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part of the programme has been balancing my time studying, completing job applications, and undertaking job interviews. However, the autumn term had only three core modules, which gave me more time to attend the various networking events and allowed me to decide which career path I want to go down.
How did you find the unprecedented switch to remote delivery due to the global pandemic?
The switch to remote delivery due to the global pandemic was really smooth. The team was really helpful and supportive. We switched to a new Hub learning platform specifically designed to deliver the remote teaching and the professors used various tools to make sure that our experience wasn’t affected by the pandemic. In fact, studying remotely proved to have many advantages such as increased flexibility and more time to work, which was usually lost commuting to campus.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort at Imperial is very diverse. I have developed friendships with people from all over the world that will last forever. Everyone is supportive and helpful, and being surrounded by them has motivated me to work harder and reach higher goals.
Do you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
My favourite professor is Dr Enrico Biffis from the Financial Engineering module. What I like about him most is his engaging approach to teaching and how he demonstrated all the theoretical concepts with real-life examples. He was also very supportive and always gave us tips to help us succeed in job interviews.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Being part of the Student-Staff Committee as the Social Leader was the greatest opportunity I’ve had at Imperial. This role allowed me to grow my network not only in the College community but also in London. In addition, it helped me improve my soft skills such as leadership and communication.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The workshops and events we had at the beginning of the term really prepared us for the academic year as well as in our job hunting. My favourite workshop was about Personal Branding by Joseph Liu. This workshop helped me to stand out in networking events and meetings. I also found the Alumni events to be really motivating.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?
I am currently part of the Student-Staff Committee as the Social Leader. This role allows me to connect with all the students in my cohort as well as others by making sure that their time at Imperial is well spent. I have organised many events but my favourites were the winter ice-skating event that was followed by drinks inside the Natural History Museum, and the spring welcome back event that was held at a rooftop bar.
Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?
As a Social Leader, I was always working with leaders from the other programmes at the Business School to organise cross-programme events. The best event was the welcome party at the Natural History Museum, where all students partied together under the whale. I am also the Events Coordinator for the Summer Ball, an event attended by 1000+ students from all programmes at the Business School which has unfortunately been delayed due to the pandemic.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
When I started the MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering programme at Imperial, I wanted to have a career in the finance industry, but I wasn’t sure which path was the right one for me. I attended many networking events and company visits organised by the Careers team at Imperial and this really helped me in choosing my future path.
How have the services from Careers helped in your professional development/securing employment?
The Careers team at Imperial is really supportive and helpful. I have booked many appointments to improve my CV and cover letter as well as mock interviews that were both motivational and technical based. Besides these, the Careers team frequently organise networking events, job fairs, and workshops which I have always attended.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Studying in central London offered us many networking and career opportunities. You can grow your network through visiting companies such as Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg. You can also take part in many hackathons organised by these companies, such as the Morgan Stanley automated trading hackathon that I attended at Imperial.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I lived in the City of London next to St Paul’s Cathedral. I chose to live in this area because it is surrounded by big banks and fintech startups.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
When I am not studying, I enjoy biking and exploring London. As a big car fan, I also enjoy wandering London to spot classic and supercars.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
I moved from Beirut to London to study at Imperial. The first challenge I faced was finding housing. I recommend that future students start exploring and researching where to live early enough to avoid the rush in finding a convenient place. The second challenge was getting to know a new culture. The culture in London is really diverse, so you will meet people from all kinds of backgrounds looking to fulfil their goals in this city.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Being in Beirut I was unable to attend on-campus information sessions, but the online webinars were really useful as they guided me on how to apply. The team was always happy to answer all the questions I had about my application. After obtaining an offer, I attended all the online webinars that helped me to apply for my Tier 4 visa. I would really recommend that prospective students attend these webinars and reach out to the team with any questions they have.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme
I strongly recommend that anyone who comes from a quantitative background with an interest in finance to apply to the MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering programme. The programme is unique, diverse, and will equip you with the right skills to excel in the financial industry. Even though the programme is challenging and requires hard work and dedication, your experience will be unforgettable and extremely rewarding. As a final tip for your application, make sure to strongly highlight your quantitative and coding skills in both your CV and personal statement.