By Hasham Asif, MiFFT2022
Going back a decade before joining LBS, my undergrad friends and I would always pass by the old walls of the main campus, while making our way to Regents Mosque every Friday. Looking at the professionalism pupils possessed and hearing passing intellectual conversations made it my dream to one day be able to study at this prestigious school. Fast forward to twelve years, I can proudly say that I am an alumni and distinction holder of the prestigious Masters in Finance (MiF) program.
Like many of you, I came to LBS and the MiF program with limited knowledge of what to expect but tremendous drive to learn and develop my skill set. Having worked for five years before with Standard Chartered Bank, within the Corporate and Institutional Banking division, I wanted to continue the advisory and client facing path hence moving into Investment Banking was the natural transition. Given the gaps in my technical skill set, I chose the electives that would help me transition easily and at the same time equip me with the knowledge to pass interviews. I opted for courses in corporate finance, private equity, mergers, distressed investments, negotiation and fixed income.
My MiF study group and Investment Banking (IB) prep group were also a great help in enhancing my knowledge and skills. These groups were also multicultural, which gave me further opportunities to learn about different cultures and how business is being done in their countries. Networking is at the heart of LBS and as a student/alum you get access to a global alumni network that is constantly engaged with the school and takes pride in mentoring students. During my time as a student, I was able to network with a lot of alumni who gave valuable insight and advice and also assisted me with my career.
The campus life at LBS is unparalleled. I highly recommend attending sundowners, where you can interact with students from different courses and also alumni that can aid in building meaningful connections. Given that I wanted to recruit for investment banking, I joined the Finance and PE Clubs, which played a pivotal role in developing my technical ability, as they host modelling courses and speaker sessions on a regular basis. Going to such events helps you to network with students who are on the same career path as yourself and can be good aides during the interview and coffee chat process.
The IB campus recruitment process is very competitive for the MiF’s and I was fortunate enough to have been selected as a summer associate by FT Partners. I would say the key success factors for that would be the networking with bankers, preparing for interviews with my IB prep group and speaking to previous summer associate alumni via the career centre. Having said the above, possessing the drive to succeed in the process and being genuinely keen on working in investment banking are the key success factors in my opinion. The recruitment process as well as the job are very competitive, hence having genuine interest in the nature of work and the willingness to work hard are key attributes that the recruiters look for.
After my time at FT Partners I came back to LBS to complete the fourth term where I was able to take further classes to continue my learning objective and take advantage of the school’s career services and alumni network. Both of these helped me to achieve my next role at ING within Oil & Gas M&A and also my current role in Leveraged Finance at Deutsche Bank.
Post the MiF, I believe I have been equipped with the technical skills I felt short in as well as the confidence to interact and develop a sustainable relationship with peers and clients from different backgrounds/nationalities. The MiF and LBS has helped me make meaningful and organic relationships. Post the MiF I feel more confident in dealing with situations and handling workplace conflicts.
My advice to prospective candidates/current students is to be clear in what you want to achieve out of the MiF program and LBS. The program is very rigorous, and it makes it hard to manage recruitment with the education and extracurricular side so having a clear view of what career path you wish to take is vital in my opinion. Another advice is to follow your own path and knowing that it may be different to others, some peers might get in through the campus recruitment route and some might not so keep working hard and networking, and things will work out for you as they have for myself and others with/before me.
All in all, when deciding to pursue a MiF, I would suggest you make sure you think of the big picture. And when you go through the experience, make sure you fully embrace it.