Month: March 2020

Choosing to study MSc Business Analytics

 Business analytics is a combines statistics, coding and business. This combination allows business analysts to narrow the gap between management and technology.

I have strong interests in data and technology and their application in real life to help businesses grow. I am always curious about how important data analytics for business is in modern society, so being able to work on making data-driven business decisions really energises me.

In my MSc Business Analytics studies, I have been learning everything from coding to data visualisation, network analysis to Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. All these new skills will help me smoothly adapt to the digital business world and are the building blocks for my future career.

My career aspirations

During my undergraduate years, despite majoring in economics, I took four elective courses about energy, learning all about the industrial chain — from exploration to sale — and found great fun in this industry.

Now, during such a time of energy transformation, I believe the trend of energy transition can lead to both cyclical but structural changes in the global energy market. I feel passionate about this and would like to develop my career in the energy industry.

In the short term, I aim to become a business analyst in an international energy company by using the skills and strengths that I am learning on the MSc in Business Analytics. In the long-term, I aspire to become an expert in this area and actively compete for a leading role to make a lasting mark and as many contributions as I can to this industry.

A greater need for women in the field of tech and business analytics

Many companies are encouraging women to get more involved in roles about technology. Some companies have  set up projects and platforms to help women develop their leadership in tech roles.

More and more women are encouraged to step into this field, which is definitely a good trend for women who want to become business analysts and deal with data and technology in the future.

With half of my class being female, it shows there is a desire on the part of women to pierce into male-dominated fields. In order to do so, I applied to the Global Women’s Leadership Programme (GWLP) scholarship and was lucky enough to receive it.

The Global Women’s Leadership Programme

 As part of GWLP, I joined the Executive Board. We have regular Executive Board meetings to discuss the progress of events held by subcommittees. In the meetings, we share our experiences and exchange opinions with each other. The board will also offers evaluations and suggestions of past activities, so I learn something new and hear new ideas in each meeting.

The Programme hosts events such as “Influence Techniques for Professional Women” and most recently, “A fireside chat with Sir Philip Hampton and Denise Wilson OBE”. These knowledge exchange events helping women at Cass to find more possibilities in their careers.

How the scholarship and GWLP Board has impacted my experience at Cass

This programme provides me opportunities to work with other ambitious women and exchange ideas. For example, alongside fellow undergraduate and master’s Scholars, we organised a panel event and invited female leaders to share their experiences and take part in a Q&A session on their career paths in November. The event received good feedback. I am very proud to organise these kinds of events because I not only learn a lot from our board members, but I am also able to give back by providing further help and encouragement for other women at Cass.

 

Mengjia Hang, MSc Business Analytics (2020)

CityStarters Weekend – Not a typical weekend

Being an MSc International Business student means not needing to confine yourself to one career path. Being a Cass master’s student gives you the opportunity to thrive. I am incredibly motivated by the commitment of my classmates. In learning that they all have very unique backgrounds and talents, my determination to really make this year at Cass count grew even stronger. That’s how I ended up at the CityStarters Weekend.

CityStarters Weekend is a startup hackathon held by CityVentures that features a series of workshops and talks, giving you the opportunity to innovate, to think out of the box and to come up with a ground-breaking solution with your team. I had never been to a competition that required so much thinking, not to mention coming up with a feasible, eye-catching startup idea in a seemingly impossible time-frame! Luckily, our team was full of passionate students that we were soon flooded with opinions on what should we be going for. Throughout the weekend, we worked on multiple problems, solutions and most importantly, we shared thoughts with our mentors, competitors and connected with a lot of intelligent individuals! At the end of the event, every team’s hopes rested on our entrusted pitchers. I am proud of my team and our pitchers who gave an excellent presentation.

While we did not win an award this time around, I left overjoyed and feeling like I had conquered the weekend. The most valuable I learned from this experience, as cliché as it may seem, is that it is the journey that really counts. The weekend taught me so much about the brainstorming and pitching process and I leave even more motivated to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions.

Jonas Leung, MSc International Business (2020)

Studying finance with a scholarship at Cass

I come from a conservative business family, where higher education is not a given, and is something that is rarely saved for. Moreover, being part of a society where women’s education takes a backseat in the face of marriage, the decision to study at Cass was an uphill battle for me and my family. Having had an inclination towards quantitative subjects and hailing from a business family that has been involved in trade and commerce for generations now, it was only natural that I took an interest in finance.

This led me to choose the globally renowned Cass MSc Finance programme as well as taking up the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme.

The last six months at Cass have been a roller coaster ride but one that I will most definitely cherish. The challenges, opportunities and diversity that it has to offer its students is unparalleled. The strategic location of Cass in the heart of London which is the finance hub adds great value to the entire experience.

It was a huge achievement to have received the Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme Scholarship. When I saw an e-mail stating that I had received the scholarship, I was elated! What better way to start off this new journey? It gave me a much-needed confidence boost in embracing the course ahead.

My experience on the Global Women’s Leadership Programme has been very enriching. Since the business world is male-dominated, we must work towards making it more gender-balanced. My views align very well with those of the other women on the Board, which makes it a treat to work with them. Organising various panel discussions, networking events and much more has given me the chance to interact with women who work in the corporate world and the exposure to myriad perspectives.

I look forward to what the rest of my journey at Cass has to offer, with some extremely exciting events in the near future such as the Frankfurt study tour and international electives, to name a few. I can definitely say – my decision to attend Cass has been extremely crucial in moulding me and preparing me for the fast-paced, competitive world of finance.

Aamina Asim, MSc Finance (2020)

Fly me to the moon: Career opportunities for Cass graduates

Kalman filter in electronic trading

The famous lyrics “Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars” by Frank Sinatra could perfectly describe our learning journey during our recent Cass quants workshop.

I am Evangelos Santas, studying MSc Financial Mathematics (2020) and one of six Presidents of the newly rising society at Cass: AIR-Q Society. In January, we held the Quant workshop “Kalman Filter in Electronic Trading” in which we discovered the algorithm used in the Apollo 11 mission and learned about the wider applications of the Kalman filter.

The event was a great success, and we welcomed a very special guest: Dr Veronika Lunina, Quantitative Vice President at NatWest Markets. She spoke passionately about the Kalman filter, an important algorithm used in statistics and control theory and its applications in finance.

Kalman filter and the Apollo 11 mission 

Dr Lunina piqued interest of all attendees with the Kalman filter’s wide applications starting from the famous Apollo 11 navigation system that took Neil Armstrong to the Moon and most importantly, brought him back!

There are many different applications in technology, control systems and, most recently, finance – especially electronic trading. Veronika discussed the intuition and the theoretical foundations behind the Kalman filter.

She put together an Excel example of estimating a time-varying cointegration coefficient between two financial price series using Kalman filter (e.g. for the purpose of pairs trading) and compared it to a rolling-regression estimate.

Veronika discussed practical challenges of choosing parameter matrices, drawing on her own practical experience, and illustrating for us how different choices lead to different outcomes. She stressed how financial data is inherently noisy and that while Kalman filter may work extremely well for engineering applications with good knowledge of the underlying physics, it is no magic and we should exercise discretion when applying the methodology in the financial domain. With that said, Veronika was positive about her own experiences using extended Kalman filter for automated marking of FX implied volatility surface.

Quantitative jobs and career progression in finance

After a short coffee and cake break, Dr Lunina opened the floor for an informative and helpful Q&A on quantitative jobs and career progression in finance.

She openly shared her own professional experiences and gave some helpful advice on how to be successful as a quant. I particularly liked how she emphasised that we can shape our jobs. We are in charge of our own careers and must be positive and proactive about advancing it on daily basis. Her own work and experiences were informative and insightful and helped us raise our commercial awareness around the Quantitative Finance industry.

Veronika discussed different types of quantitative roles and the ever-changing skillsets required. She then talked about what to expect from a quant recruitment process and gave advice for interviews. She shared several tips and gave examples for how to solve problems by breaking them down into simpler ones, by applying backward induction and symmetry arguments.

As a gift, our guests kindly offered three quants books, “The Man Who Solved the Market” by David Zuckerman, “The Quants by Scott Patterson” and “My Life as a Quant” by Emanuel Derman – to three attendees who most actively participated during the talk and the Q&A session.

Thanks to AIR-Q and Cass!

After the end of the workshop we shared some laughs and interesting stories with our guest over drinks at the networking session in the Cass milling area.

The Presidents of the Cass AIR-Q Society Rocio Plasencia, Juan Sebastian De La Torre, Evangelos Santas, Lucy Nondi, David Flanigan, Adam Upenieks and Peter Vodička would like to deliver special thanks to Dr Veronika Lunina for her amazing presentation and her insightful view on the continuously changing world of Quantitative Finance, especially electronic trading. After the workshop Veronika wrote to us, “I find it very rewarding to teach and was happy there were many challenging questions.”

We would also like to thank Cass Business School for supporting us, then to all our internal members and industry attendees for their valuable contribution. We are looking forward to seeing you all at our next AIR-Q Forums and Workshops that are already on track for the following weeks of the second term.

Evangelos Santas, MSc Financial Mathematics (2020)

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