I’m an Imperial Woman in Finance

Three female alumni of our Finance Master’s programmes share their stories.

As part of International Women’s Day and Women at Imperial Week - the College’s annual celebration of Imperial women - we share the stories of three inspirational Finance alumni who studied our Finance Master's programmes at the Business School.

Find out how Rachel Byrne, Wenyan (Daisy) Xu and Yanina Opanasenko have broken the bias to succeed in this historically male-dominated industry.

"Equality can mean that women can be themselves and not have to change their behaviour to be seen as competent."

Rachel Byrne

MSc Finance & Accounting 2015

Rachel Byrne is an alumnus of MSc Finance & Accounting. She works as a Senior Manager at HSBC.

When I discovered that Finance is all based around numbers and rules and logic, I think I liked the predictability of that.

My time at Imperial taught me not just about theory and finance, but about how that actually looks in practice in the real world. I think that’s something that was the switch in my mind as to actually what my future could look like.

Having done Irish dancing for 20 years, it definitely taught me self motivation, drive, hard work ethic, and to pick yourself up when things don’t go to plan. I think that’s definitely helped me in my career.

Imperial College Business School really gave me the confidence to succeed in my career in Finance. I think having other strong women on the programme with me really helped motivate me.

Being able to see women from other backgrounds with other experiences all striving towards a successful career in Finance was a great thing to be a part of.

What I’d say to young women wanting to go into Finance is to go for it. There’s plenty of opportunities for women and we deserve to be there.

Equality can mean that women can be themselves and not have to change their behaviour to be seen as competent.

"Imperial empowered me as a woman because the experience made me more confident."

Wenyan (Daisy) Xu

MSc Finance 2010

Wenyan (Daisy) Xu is an alumnus of Imperial's MSc Finance programme. She works at Deutsche Bank as an Assistant Vice President.

I chose Finance as a career, first, because I find it to be a field that’s very intellectually challenging. We look at history, data, we use models, we make assumptions based on our belief of the market, of the behaviour, and we make predictions and try and manage the risks. It’s quite challenging, and that’s something I’m passionate about.

I did my undergraduate studies in Chengdu, back in China. Just before I attended the university, there was an earthquake in the city. I felt the pain people were going through and the struggles they had trying to rebuild the city and their lives.

That experience made me realise the role Finance can play in helping people better manage risk and to prepare for uncertainties. I believe that by working in the Finance industry, I can become part of the positives that impact on people’s lives.

I chose to study at Imperial College Business School because I’ve always believed that, only by going to places where some of the best people are, can you become one of them.

When I first got into the Finance world, working as a woman, I did find it challenging because the industry is more traditionally male dominant.

I think it’s really important for every young woman to believe in themselves and have the courage and confidence to pursue their dream job.

Imperial empowered me as a woman because the experience made me more confident. The students at Imperial College are very diverse – with people from different cultures and people with different experiences. Working together with them helps me to make my voice heard as well as listen to others.

“There is a lot of effort going into improving the gender disbalance in the financial industry.”

Yanina Opanasenko

MSc Financial Technology 2020

Yanina Opanasenko graduated from MSc Financial Technology in the programme's inaugural class. She currently works at Morgan Stanley as a Technology Associate.

What made me passionate about financial technology is the scope of analysing huge data sets and being able to come up with insights that would not be possible using standard techniques.

I was extremely honoured to receive a Women in Finance scholarship from Imperial. The scholarship enabled me to connect with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, discuss their life experiences, challenges they have gone through, and learn from them.

What I valued the most about studying at Imperial is the people that I’ve met, the connections that I’ve made, and the friendships.

There is a lot of effort going into improving the gender disbalance in the financial industry. Young ladies can sometimes be worried about the technicality involved in finance, financial technology or technology.

What I would recommend is not to be scared about the challenges that will be lying ahead. There will be a lot of people on their journeys who are going to support them and become better versions of themselves – stronger and more empowered.

Hear more from Rachel, Wenyan and Yanina in our Imperial Women in Finance video:

Can you see yourself following in their footsteps? Continue discovering Imperial College Business Schools Finance Master's programmes.