Vibeke Schmidt

Vibeke SchmidtNationality: Danish

Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: BSc International Business at Copenhagen Business School

Work experience/internship(s): I started working in an Investment Bank called Hera Invest in Mongolia for three months right after high school. During my studies I worked as a Student Assistant at first Nordea Life and Pension (one of the largest pension fund/insurance companies in the Nordic Countries) in the department of risk management; secondly at IBM, where I learned about data management and strategy; and thirdly as a Research Assistant at Copenhagen Business School. During the three years of undergraduate studies I further worked as a regional manager in an NGO, being responsible for more than 70 volunteers, 100 annual events and European Partnerships. I also completed internships in Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Nordea Life and Pension Group Office in the department of models and analytics. Lastly I worked as a recruitment assistant in Teach First Denmark in its first year of running followed by being an internship in Bain & Company.

Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: My greatest academic achievement was to be accepted into the MSc In RMFE. I had to take extra courses during my undergraduate degree and complete a series of online courses in linear algebra, math, etc. in order to achieve the quantitative skill-set needed for this Master’s programme. My greatest professional achievement was to land an internship with Bain & Company and receive a full-time offer afterwards. My greatest personal achievement is realising that before starting my career in finance/consulting I want to dedicate two years to work with disadvantaged children as a teacher with Teach First Denmark. I have always been very ambitious and saying no to a prestigious job at Bain & Co was hard but also the best decision of my life.

Contact via LinkedIn

Programme

Why did you decide to study an MSc in Risk Management & Financial Engineering and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
I chose the MSc RMFE for three reasons:
First of all I have a strong passion for numbers. I chose my bachelor in International Business as it was the most prestigious undergraduate programme in Denmark and it gave a great holistic picture of the business environment of today. However, during my studies I worked a lot in different companies  with risk management and I realised I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the mathematics behind finance and improve my quantitative competencies. I discussed a lot with my colleagues at Bain & Co and found that the MSc RMFE had a unique depth in terms of numbers yet still a strong focus on the applied side of mathematics in finance. The chance to study with students with very different backgrounds to my own, from engineering to mathematics, was very exiting.

Secondly, I am a firm believer in the revolution in risk management that we have seen over the last decade. The MSc RMFE offers a unique combination of financial courses with a risk perspective in mind, which I believe will give graduates of the programme a profile that permits us to go into our future careers with the best possible competencies. We know the very complex model and the math behind it but we also understand the weaknesses of assumptions in finance and how to keep a holistic perspective of a bank, for example.

Thirdly, Imperial College Business School is one the world’s best universities and the quality of the faculty and it’s ability to attract the world’s top students were of cause a factor. The range of activities offered at Imperial as well as the whole spirit of excellence were something that really attracted me. In Denmark a Master’s degree is something you do while working maybe 30 hours alongside your studies, which are often second priority. I wanted to study at a place where the standards were so high I had to give it everything I had.

What makes the MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering at Imperial College Business School unique?
The RMFE is a unique combination of quantitative methods meeting finance. Nowhere else can you get such a high mathematical level with a strong focus on how to apply the methods in the real-world. The synergies of the students’ different backgrounds as well as the enthusiasm and expertise of the teachers result in a very challenging yet fun environment.

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
Personally, I really enjoyed the lectures. I thought the teachers have been amazing and I believe the difference between other universities and Imperial is particularly visible in the quality of lectures. Further, our programme involves a substantial amount of group work, which has been an amazing experience. The course work has been very challenging meaning the group really has to work together with our different skill-set in order to have an excellent product in the end.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Coming from a business background where strategy has been the focus has meant the mathematical part of the programme has been most challenging but also most fun! In particular the course Stochastic Calculus was difficult but I was fortunate enough to have a fellow student with an engineering background help me. In return I helped him with his job application so it was a win-win.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The feeling that I could not have learned any more in such a short amount of time. I love learning, and really maximizing my learning potential has been one of the best experiences. I have never been challenged academically in the same way before so proving to myself I could succeed, even without the quantitative background, has been very rewarding.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I loved Financial Engineering as it built upon the foundation of Stochastic Calculus. It was a perfect mix of interesting math and then discussion on how to, and how not to, apply it in the financial sector. I enjoyed digging deeper into stochastic methods and a great moment was when I realised I could discuss the models with my uncle, who is an actuary in the biggest bank in Denmark. I also loved Numerical Finance as I have always been a fan of linear algebra and our teacher was amazing.

People

Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The company events were very useful as experts from all kinds of industries came to speak about trends in the financial sector. It really took my knowledge to a new level.

How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
Engaged, ambitious and friendly.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Our teacher Ammar Kherraz has been absolutely brilliant. He really knows how to make complicated subject simple and to show its relevance. He really engages the students in the discussion.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment, whether it be group assignments or class discussions?
The strive for excellence at Imperial has been a great inspiration for me. I love to work with other students who also have high standards and are not satisfied with anything less than perfect. Further, everyone from my programme comes with excellent academic skills as well as professional experience and it is really motivating when you can create synergy effects in a group.

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The perfect combination of nerdy, ambitious and funny.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
First of all, I was elected the Career Leader of my programme. It has been very interesting to talk to all my peers about what they would like from the Career Service and to also get an insight to how it works at Imperial. I have never experienced such a dedicated Career Service with such a broad range of services available to the students. Bridging the financial sector and the academic environment is essential in order for the students to be prepared for their future career and being able to give my input in this regard has been fantastic.
Secondly, I have been a volunteer with the organisation Future Frontiers which engages students all over the UK to become career coaches for disadvantaged pupils in British schools. It has permitted me to visit a lot of different schools and get an impression of this side of London and a more holistic image of the British culture. I really enjoyed working with the children and I learned a lot about both leadership and problem solving, which were a great addition to the academic skills I acquired in my courses.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The quality of the courses and the network of international students with amazing profiles, who I am sure will make great careers in finance in the future.

How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I have had a mock interview and I really thought that was great.

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Yes, of course! The internship I landed was after an event where I met the CEO of the organisation and just talked with him about how data is not really used in NGOs.

Career

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I was an intern in Bain & Co before starting at Imperial so I already had an offer from them. However, I realised that before starting at Bain I wanted to teach in disadvantaged schools for two years with Teach First Denmark. I have received an offer to do that since starting at Imperial.

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My ambition is to work where I have the most impact. I want to work with data and measurement in either emerging markets or in companies that are working for social Impact. Imperial has given me the quantitative knowledge which among others permitted me to land an internship in London this winter, where I was in charge of building a database and all the analytics for an NGO. Further, my courses also gave me an idea to create my own app to be used in the classroom where I have landed the initial funding.

Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?
I will teach for two years in Denmark, where I will focus on teaching pupils English as an additional language, as well as math to children of refugees. Further, I will work on my application and other projects such as starting up a case competition that brings together students from quantitative studies with students from humanities. I will then start as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co. in the summer of 2018. My dream is to make it to the Bridgespan Group, which is Bain & Co’s non-profit branch that works with impact-oriented projects in NGOs. I am passionate about applying data in such a setting and changing the world through data and finance.

Location

Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in South Kensington because I brought my dog with me from Denmark and I wanted to live close to Hyde Park so I could go running there with her.

What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
Well it very much depends on how serious the student is. I have worked part-time while studying and, to me, studying is a high priority so my weekends are very serious. We do however often go to the union bar on Friday after class. Saturdays sometimes involve a museum or a meet-up event. One can attend very interesting events, for example, with a FinTech meet-up group. I really love the cafes in London so I often have brunch on Sundays and then spend the rest of the day studying.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
I enjoy going for a long run to Westminster, then cross the bridge and run all the way along the river to Battersea Park. I love this area and it provides a much-needed break from the business of the central part.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
First of all, accept that finding a cheap flat is not really possible and then enjoy the experience. Do not stress about feeling that you have to do everything but instead try to enjoy everything you do.  Also appreciate the learning experience because you can really feel your competencies developing.

Tips

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
Do it. It is quite a long process but I can only recommend doing it. If you are from a “soft” background such as finance or economics just be prepared to work hard and only do it If you really like math.