Talking to Erblin, it’s immediately clear that his home country means everything to him. From a young age, he questioned what he could do to improve it and inspire the next generation.
Perhaps you’re reading this with little knowledge of Kosovo. Many people are aware of the war that happened in the late 90s. Erblin explains, “Throughout my life, I have learned how to make the most of my misfortunes and be thankful for every experience. Touched by war, famine and apartheid to an extent, I have never given in to the circumstances.”
I ask: What can I do for my community? What sacrifices do I need to make for Kosovo to be a prosperous society where citizens are appreciated? My answer is that I am willing to sacrifice everything and utilise my knowledge to alter the status quo back home.
Advocating for the youth
After the Kosovo war, the living conditions deteriorated rapidly and gravely impacted much of the population, especially the young. As a teenager, Erblin felt the need to advocate for the rights of his people and give a voice to the youth. He attended various radio and TV programmes to raise awareness regarding human rights in Kosovo and organised educational events to draw attention to bullying, racism and nationalism.
Our mission to draw attention and increase awareness paid off because our activities served as a starting point for numerous local and international NGOs to advocate for laws that would benefit children from all war-impacted communities.
Being so aware of his surroundings, Erblin with a group of friends, initiated the European Youth Parliament Kosovo in 2011 to bring together young people from across Europe to engage in various citizenship topics to celebrate differences and embrace similarities.
As he gained momentum and years of experience, Erblin went on to join numerous intergovernmental organisations including the United Nations, European Union, Swiss Development Agency, and German Development Agency. He still had one mission in mind – to improve the rights of minorities and women and enhance the business climate in the Balkans region.
Insight into the financial world
Erblin now describes himself as “a financial strategic professional who is not afraid to push limits to change the lives of others.”
His interest in finance emerged during the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
“The entire financial world was in chaos and that intrigued me. I started following Wall Street to understand the intricate workings of the financial world,” he reveals.
After discovering this interest, Erblin joined a US-based investment firm. Here he outperformed the S&P 500 index while compounding an average of 20% internal rate of return annually while following Warren Buffett’s criteria on value investing.
He went on to manage multi-million-dollar projects and contributed to the growth and success of multiple other organisations.
Erblin’s dream had been to work in finance, but he knew he needed to advance his expertise to make a real difference. As someone from Kosovo, being able to study in the UK wasn’t easy, he had to overcome hurdles to make his dream a reality.
People did not believe in me - I don’t mean the people around me like friends and family, but others who had prejudice against Albanians. After leaving my country for a better future, I knew my journey would be tough, but I kept going.
Erblin knew that the Imperial College Business School programme, MSc Investment & Wealth Management, was the perfect fit for him. He shared his thoughts in a student profile at the time.
“The programme offered a highly quantitative curriculum and access to a world-renowned faculty of experts. Imperial also has connections with leading financial institutions that provide practical and real-life experience for students, countless networking opportunities through career fairs and company visits.”
“Without a doubt, every day at Imperial was unique, enriching, and impactful in itself.”
The Imperial mindset challenged him to step out of comfort zone and follow the path of self-discovery and exploration. Being exposed to the presentations and onsite visits at companies such as McKinsey, Bain, Goldman and Morgan Stanley, made him love finance even more.
When you ask Erblin what advice he’d give to others, he says, “Don’t stop. If you stop, then you won’t get anywhere. If you try, there is a slight possibility and it’s worth a shot.” Never accept no for an answer. Anything is possible if you commit.
Exposure to industry
Erblin’s time at Imperial College Business School was pivotal. “Before becoming a student in London, I was working in development. I wasn’t advanced in finance at all. Being at Imperial was amazing as we were meeting with industry leaders every week and could ask lots of questions. The curriculum was challenging but the subjects were so relevant.”
My cohort at Imperial was made up of people from all over the world and we stuck together. You do not expect that in a business school. Imperial was different – we cheered for each other. I made the best of friends while I was a student.
While at Imperial, Erblin was named a UN OCHA Peace Ambassador. He also travelled to Bangkok to network, share ideas, and initiate joint venture discussions. His conversations led to successful initiatives in the field of education – building schools and supporting underrepresented women in Southeast Asia.
Life after Imperial
Thanks to the connections he made at Imperial, Erblin secured his first chief financial role. Now he works for dua.com where he is helping the start up connect fragmented communities. He joined when the team was still small, but it’s grown to have a market capital of £30 million. This is impressive, but what makes it more impressive is that this growth has happened throughout a global pandemic.
You would think that a demanding job would keep Erblin occupied. However, he’s also studying for his MPA at Harvard University. His return to education is part of his bigger vision – to create the first stock exchange for Kosovo. To make this happen, he needs both a financial, political and legal understanding of how this would work and the processes behind it.
Nothing is off the cards for Erblin though. He says, “Being at Harvard, I’m surrounded by entrepreneurial minds – everyone wants to create a start up.
It’s tempting to do the same. Maybe one day I would like to do this, but my focus, for now, is to go back and do something for my country”
During his academic and professional journey, Erblin has received numerous honours, awards, and public recognition from organisations in the United States and Europe. These include Forbes 30 Under 30 (Finance) in continental Europe, the Alpha Chi National Convention Prize in Business Administration, First Place in Value Investing at Bulldog Investment and Most Valuable Person Award from dua AG.
Being listed in Forbes is one of Erblin’s proudest moments. “I didn’t have a mentor or any support. Someone nominated me and I got in. I had to work hard to be recognised as I didn’t have anyone to reach out to. I hope to inspire people from Kosovo while spreading the word about my country.”
“Time is a sacred resource and I wish I had more,” Erblin confesses when you ask what drives him. His determination to use every day wisely is clear, and his love for learning consumes his time. When he’s not studying, he’s reading books on psychology to explore areas like creating more effective habits. He shares, “Learning has been my passion since I was a child. I always wanted to be the best at what I did. Now I’m focusing on doing the best for my country.”
For Erblin, achieving balance means doing two things: regularly running to clear his mind and sharing any internal worries. “I speak to my Mum every day. She is back home in Kosovo, but she knows everything about what I’m doing and has been my biggest supporter ever since. And of course my wife, Elona. She is my champion who has pushed me to explore the unknown.”
The sense of diversity and community makes me proud to be an Imperial alumnus. I met people from all over the world. I got to learn about their cultures and how they see the world.
Connections across countries
Erblin describes his time at Imperial as the “best experience in his academic journey”. He has fond memories of going to the bar with classmates to discuss what they’d learnt and how they’d apply it in their everyday working life. For him, it was all about creating meaningful connections and learning from other people.
Today, Erblin has friends all over the world. A few are in the US, while others are in Morocco, Romania, Dubai, Hong Kong and Australia. Many have stayed in London too. He believes being able to create a network like this is one of the things that makes Imperial unique.
A country of dreamers
Although the award is in his name, Erblin sees it as something much bigger, more than just an achievement for him. “We are indeed a small country but full of dreamers, achievers, and most of all strong-willed people. This accomplishment is not just mine. It represents my birthplace, my people and my community.”
In Kosovo we are not privileged people, but we have made it so far, and this is what I want to prove. My community will be part of this journey with me because now I represent them all proudly as a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
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The dua team at a team building event in Dubai
The dua team at a team building event in Dubai
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