Kateryna Stepanova

Kateryna Stepanova

Programme: MSc Risk Management and Financial Engineering 2011

Nationality: Ukrainian

Undergraduate: Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Theoretical physics

Employment prior to studying at the Business School: Internship in asset management firm “Altus Assets Activities”, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

Employment after studying at the Business School: Junior Quantitative Analyst at Abaci Investment Management (February 2011 – May 2012), Quantitative Risk Analyst at HSBC (From May 2012)

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

Finance is a relatively young science and there are so many questions to be asked and answered. I believe that only mathematics together with a general understanding of markets and economies can provide a solution. Therefore, after deciding to launch a career in Quantitative Finance, without knowing too much about the industry in general, I was inspired by a programme that offers a great combination of mathematics and real life experience.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same Business School programme as you?

Deciding whether or not to take this programme depends on what exactly you want to do in the financial industry after graduation. If you are keen to solve mathematical and computational problems, like looking for appropriate pricing models for newly designed securities or developing hedging platforms, an MSc in RMFE is what you need. It covers many technical and practically important topics without going into very abstract theories, and at the same time helps to develop a solid grounding in concepts from general finance. You must acquire some mathematical literacy before entering the programme. Mathematical analysis and linear algebra knowledge is the required minimum for being up to speed with really intensive courses.

What is your fondest memory from your time at the Business School?

I miss three things the most: the Stochastic Calculus in Finance course lectured by Nick Baltas, brainstorming during group coursework in Mathematical Finance and Statistics, and noodles at the ground floor of Imperial cafeteria.

How has the Business School helped develop your career?

I found my first job via the Imperial career website – and working as a quantitative analyst and risk manager I use pretty much everything I studied at Imperial College.

What do you enjoy most about your work and what are the main challenges that you face?

I enjoy explaining things when I understand them inside-out. By getting into your listener’s head and trying to understand how they think, you can decide which words will let you transfer the idea into their head.

The main challenge of quantitative finance is taking into account the irrationality of human behaviour that distorts mathematically logical results. I like how Emanuel Derman put it: “[in finance] if you are a theorist you must never forget that you are travelling through lawless roads where the local inhabitants don’t respect your principles.”

How do you stay connected with others from your Business School alumni network?

At the moment, I stay connected with my former classmates mainly via Bloomberg chat.