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Landing a job in China

Joining a student society: my experience in the Cass Chinese Career Society (CCS)

As an MSc Business Analytics student, I’ve found being a Co-President of a student society one of the most rewarding experiences of my studies, as I’ve allowed to practise some of the skills I learned in the events we host. One of the greatest things about joining a student society is that you get to surround yourself with amazing people. They are your peers, alumni or guests that you may never have had the opportunity to know if you hadn’t decided to click on that event link. They all shine in a way or another and may inspire you at some point in your life when you are least expected to be inspired but need it the most.

In a career-focused society like the Cass Chinese Career Society (CCCS), we are all working hard towards the same goal so you can find the support you need to pull you through the sometimes inevitable difficult times when you are overwhelmed by the interviews and tests that you need to get prepared for while carrying the burden of your coursework piling up. 

Landing a job in China

The ‘Landing a job in China – International Banks’ webinar was the second in the series of employability webinars hosted by Cass Chinese Career Society (CCCS). For students who are considering a banking career, this webinar was particularly useful as it invited three Cass alumni who now work in HSBC and Standard Charted in China and are at different stages of their professional life.

Attending the webinar

As a quick response to the unprecedented change starting in March due to the pandemic, CCCS introduced a series of employability webinars that focus specifically on exploring job options in China. Each webinar was generally divided into two parts: a discussion of the alumni’s daily work life, their career advice and tips, followed by a Q&A session. With an economic outlook that may worry some students, at CCCS, we felt organising these webinars could help our current students gain insight from alumni to prepare for the future.

105 students joined the Wechat group chat for the International Bank webinar while 45 students joined live on Cisco Webex platform. This webinar was very well received by our participants. The group chat was filled with gratitude when the webinar ended with a few students commented it gave them a lot more confidence in job-hunting during this difficult time.

Top tips to securing a job in China

Aside from key skillsets such as communication, leadership, analytical skills and teamwork, graduate schemes for foreign banks in China pay great attention to whether the candidate presents a good match with the company culture. For example, HSBC’s culture is ‘Open, Dependable and Connected’, so it can be very useful to think before the interview about how one’s experience and the way you behave can show these key values. For Standard Chartered in China, the company prefers candidates with a more proactive personality and who show great potential for business expansion. Despite the positions being based in China, English will be used mostly throughout the application process.

Another great piece of advice we get from the alumnus is about application strategy. To better manage risk in the process, it is advised to divide the applications into top, medium and low levels of difficulty of being selected. If you are interested in a career in finance, you can try applying for positions in different sub-sections a bit more widely such as securities, private equity, venture capital, trust fund etc. and then compare the offers.

Learning more about the banking industry in China

In general, banks have a very clear career path such as ‘Analyst – Associate – Associate Director – Director – Managing Director’ while the name of the positions may vary across banks. People are usually promoted every 2-5 years depending on own performance. Graduates in international banks have overall good credibility in the job market and therefore more choices in their following career development.

The alumni also talked about the responsibility, challenges and benefits of different job positions they have been in such as front desk roles, credit analyst and graduate role in detail. A detailed summary of the webinar content can be found in this article in Mandarin.

Iris Wang, MSc Business Analytics

 

Knowledge, memories and friendship: what I cherish from my MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation

My first exposure to the world of marketing was quite early on in my life. My father is an entrepreneur and runs an advertising and marketing agency. During my school days, I used to visit his office and observe the creative teamwork on building brands and campaigns. In hindsight, I believe that this is when I subconsciously decided to delve into and explore the field of marketing.

The Cass MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation has been one of the most intriguing courses I’ve ever studied. I find myself facing new and exciting challenges every day. I continuously look forward to learning more from my professors, who are some of the best academics and practitioners in the field. Studying at Cass has made me even more curious about the dynamic world of marketing.

Cass gives you the opportunity to put the knowledge that you learn in class to use in the practical world. We worked with real companies to help them with their marketing and branding strategies! That experience was an eye-opener and I cannot thank Cass and our professors enough for equipping us with the skillset to fight our own battles in the real world of marketing, as well as learning how to improvise by keeping us on our toes.

I have participated in exciting group challenges and presentations, individual assignments, workshops, come up with innovative ideas for projects, worked till midnight to meet deadlines and learned how to be a part of a team.

Being elected as the President of the Marketing and Strategy Society was yet another learning experience. I truly recommend joining a student society to learn something outside of what is being taught in class. Exploring other fields of marketing and strategy while networking with so many people and learning something from each person you meet is an incredible experience.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I still choose to look at the positive outcomes of my past six months at Cass: I have grown as a person, I have become a better marketeer with lots of new creative strategies and I have become a friend to so many new people. I cherish the knowledge I have gained, the memories I have made and the friends who have become family.

To all of you out there looking for the courage to step out of your comfort zone by moving to another country to learn more about your passion, I would like to quote Paulo Coelho and say, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Believe in yourself and challenge yourself to achieve everything you have ever dreamt of.

Anushi Chadha, MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2020)

MSc Banking and International Finance: A Programme for Global Perspective

Following my undergraduate studies in economics and finance at McGill University in Montreal, I knew I held a strong interest in mergers and acquisitions as a field of study. As a specialisation, it opens up career opportunities at the intersection of management consulting and investment banking.

Before entering the job market, I wanted to gain specialist knowledge relevant to my desired career path. Upon thorough research online and further discussion with mentors, the Cass MSc Banking and International Finance stood out among a number of excellent alternatives in the UK and around the world – I felt that Cass was somewhere I could continue to be challenged and develop.

Having grown up in a number of countries, including China, Finland, Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland, the U.S., Poland and the UK, ensuring that I join a class full of diverse and varied perspectives was of critical importance to me. I have always felt that while sticking to what is familiar may be comfortable, the best way to ensure continued growth is to gain exposure to as many more views and experiences as possible. The MSc Banking and International Finance programme at Cass appeared to propose exactly this sort of exposure, in tandem with academic rigour and clear opportunity for professional development – so I submitted an application.

And, nearly a full year later, I am excited to say that my experience has been phenomenal! I have not only gained the specialist knowledge I sought, but also the confidence to execute in practical application in a number of different areas – all under the guidance of a group of professors, consisting of both leading academics and experienced practitioners in their respective fields, who remain supportive with respect to my career aspirations and with whom I will be sure to keep in touch.

Finance & Banking Club Team

Participation in group events and dialogues outside of the classroom is a key aspect of student life at Cass, and as a Co-President of the Cass Finance and Banking Society and member of the M&A and PE and Consulting Societies – amongst others – I have had the opportunity to lead friends and colleagues in engaging with our shared interests through many workshops, simulation events, panel discussions and socials. Cass’s location in the heart of the City of London provides unparalleled access to a range of different firms and professionals in banking and business and truly allows interactive events with experienced professionals to be commonplace, rather than a rarity. I even have had the chance to practise my French, German and Russian with classmates and through a few of the many language-focused student societies on campus!

As a Programme Representative, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to liaise between my classmates and professors and put together social events for my class. As a class, we were able to share feedback and work together with faculty members with the collective aim of making the MSc Banking and International Finance offering stronger with each passing year.

Perhaps most invaluably, I have gained a new family of friends and classmates from all over the world who, while hailing from wildly different backgrounds and experience, share a passion for finance and drive for lifelong learning.

Wyatt Himmer, MSc Banking and International Finance (2020)

The Future of Actuaries

Choosing Cass

I studied pure mathematics in my undergraduate degree but was already interested pursuing a career as an actuary. I became an intern in a life insurance company as an actuary and later became a full-time employee after graduation.

In my experience, life insurance products tend to have complex and long policy terms, which become a challenge for actuaries to quantify the risks and calculate the optimum premium and reserves. I found this challenging yet fun because the problem could vary every time and the products themselves are getting more innovative, which brings a whole new level of calculation complexity. These are the reasons I wanted to pursue my career as an actuary in the life insurance industry.

I decided to continue learning by studying the Cass MSc Actuarial Science. I wanted to increase my mathematical and statistical skills, with a focusing on the actuarial field, as well as broaden my knowledge of the applications of actuarial science.

Cass is well-known for its MSc Actuarial Science programme. The School offers broad and varied accredited actuarial science modules which allows students up to six actuarial exam exemptions. The assessment in most modules are a real-life application and are carried out using essential software such as R, VBA and Excel. In addition, there are also options for student to take business analytics modules which is really what got me really interested in the first place and helped me decide where to study.

The Future of Actuaries

The ever-growing trend of business digitalisation is pushing a lot of companies to require people with technical skills related to big data platforms and automation. Companies will need more people with the ability to analyse large amounts of raw data, manipulate it, and create an algorithm to transform it into something functional for the company to then visualise the result. That is where a business analyst plays an important role.

While it is true that business analysts are needed in every sector, in the financial sector and the insurance and investment industries, business analysts require a combination of strong data analysis skills as well as the ability to quantify future risks. In these cases, an actuary can fulfil these requirements.

Combining actuarial science and business analytics: preparing for my future career

What I think will be the most useful technique of business analysis for my career is machine learning. As an actuary, I will be dealing with a lot of data to make some assumptions out of it to predict future risks. It became a much more challenging thing in life insurance where actuaries were required to predict long-term future risks based on historical data. Machine learning could help clean the data by predicting missing values or even predict new variables using unsupervised techniques.

Frequent analysis of the data is also common for actuaries, whether it is to calculate monthly reserve, performance monitoring, or premium re-calculation for Yearly Renewable products. Machine learning could speed up the process by fitting all of the analysis models and validate the result much quicker.

Muhammad Alhavif, MSc Actuarial Science (2020)

*From September 2020, Cass Business School will be launching the MSc in Actuarial Science with Business Analytics pathway, which prepares students for the non-traditional actuarial field of business analytics.

Work and study from home: how to stay productive

Remote work has become our new reality, especially in 2020.

A lot of us are new to working or studying from home. It can be challenging to organise our work processes in our homes. As a Cass MSc Global Finance student, my programme is taught online so I have unique insights into how to study effectively at home.

Here are my top three tips that help me stay productive while working and studying from home:

  1. Create a schedule

For me, the benefit of studying from home is that I do not need to follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule. While you need to be present online during normal working hours to be able to contact your colleagues and classmates and join meetings, you also have the opportunity to optimise your day according to your productivity.

Figure out what your peak workflow times are by writing down your state of mind throughout the day. Some people would rather get all of their hard work out the way in the morning, even before breakfast, while others can only start thinking clearly after lunch and reach the top of their productivity by late night, like I do. Luckily, working from home means that no matter which category you fall into, you have the choice of making a schedule that best suits your peak workflow times.

Separating your working hours from personal time is helpful too. I always include regular breaks in my schedule. I use five to 45 minutes of rest every few hours to do things like home workouts, making another cup of tea or coffee, reading the news or even scrolling through my Instagram feed. I don’t consider my break times as a working time, otherwise, I’d be frustrated by the fact I’ve been working all day long!

  1. Dress for work

I think home clothes are so comfortable! However, they make me feel too relaxed and don’t motivate to study and work. A business-casual look would be the best option for me for working from home.

The smarter you look while working from home, the more dedication you show to yourself and your peers. If you were used to taking a shower and shaving every day for the office or university, keep doing it at home too.

  1. Make a to-do list

I am a firm believer in making to-do lists, with one caveat: don’t make it too long! The optimal size for me is three to seven tasks per day. It’s easier for me to arrange the whole week in advance by evenly spreading my plans throughout the week.

Why should it be short? Because there are going to be some unexpected or urgent tasks coming up throughout the day that you didn’t expect. Your schedule has to be flexible to manage those cases. If it’s already full, it means you’ll have to delay tasks to another day, which has a knock-on effect on your next day and I know the disappointment of having uncompleted tasks in your to-do list at the end of the day. To-do lists help you to see your work progress and keep you motivated.

Following these three simple rules, I can stay productive when I’m self-isolating and I can achieve even more goals right from my home. I hope my experience will be helpful to you too.

Stay safe and work hard!

Nikita Kozachenko, MSc Global Finance (2020)

Finding work in China and the UK with a student society

Cass Chinese Careers Society

I am the Co-President of the Cass Chinese Careers Society (CCCS), along with Wendy Zhang and Yilun Fu, two master’s students at Cass. While the three of us manage the whole society together, I specialise in Public Relations and lead a team of my own to establish and maintain relationships with guest speakers, alumni and external organisations such as companies and societies.

CCCS is a student-led society working together with the Careers team, aiming to support Chinese postgraduates in achieving their professional aspirations. CCCS not only helps enhance the job-searching skills of Chinese students by holding practical job-related presentations and workshops, but also serves as a useful information-sharing and networking platform for its members to pursue their dream jobs in both the UK and in China.

There are three major divisions within CCCS: Marketing, Events and Public Relations. The Marketing team produces weekly job-related insights on our main social media platform WeChat, sharing job opportunities and application preparation tips. They also share events they feel will be relevant to students and offer information on specific companies and industries.

Our events

In our first semester, we held two major events and facilitated two additional events organised by Cass Careers Office:

  • Alumni Panel Event – Getting a job in the UK
  • Christmas networking event at Devonshire Terrace
  • Standard Charted Company Presentation
  • Financial Friends Online Conference – Job application tips on financial services in mainland China

All events were very well received by our students. For example, in the Christmas networking event, the venue was fully booked with 60 attendees— both students and alumni. Over 120 students attended Standard Charted presentation!

Alumni panel event

At our alumni panel event, we had eight guest speakers from four sectors that students are most interested in: banking, consulting, auditing and insurance. Our speakers are employees from high-profile companies (HSBC, Barclays, KPMG, PwC, Accenture and Aviva).

After a short introduction, the panel coordinators asked questions tailored to current applicants’ key concerns. After guest graduates shared their experiences and tips, there was also a Q&A and networking session. The topics of the questions cover the guests’ typical day/week, challenges and opportunities, reasons for choosing this role and company, specific applications tips and advice about the job-searching process as a whole. We had excellent feedback with some of my fellow students calling thing event ‘insightful’ and ‘very practical’.

What I have gained from being part of CCCS

Being a part of CCCS has been a great experience of mine!

CCCS provides excellent networking opportunities for its members. As the president responsible for Public Relations, holding society events gives me a great opportunity to build connections with not only a strong community of aspiring students, but also with experienced professionals such as Cass alumni, company representatives and even Shanghai Free Trade Zone delegates. By talking with experienced professionals and listening to their personal stories, I gained helpful insights about different job markets and received valuable guidance on exploring career options and further progression. During my busy application period, our community also offered me great encouragement and support which was just what I needed then for even better performance.

From a more personal perspective, the president role helped me enhance my leadership and communication skills by giving me an excellent opportunity to lead and manage a team of my own, which I believe will definitely benefit me in my future career and more generally in life.

Aside from skills development, the thought of making positive impacts within the Chinese student community always keeps me motivated. I deeply understand the difficulty and various struggles of finding an ideal job for Chinese students, so the feeling of being able to offer help and support makes my society duties a lot more enjoyable.

Iris Xuan Wang, 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)

Cass Innovate 2019: Entrepreneurial challenges put under the microscope

I attended the event Cass Innovate which took place on the 13th November 2019 at Cass Business School.

Cass Innovate is an annual conference with the purpose of discussing entrepreneurial challenges and leading research within the entrepreneurship ecosystem. These topics are, thereby, discussed with the best of both worlds by drawing from both theoretical research and practical knowledge. The edge of this event is that everyone aspiring in entrepreneurial topics can attend – you can be a student who strives for gathering the latest research in this field or a founder of an existing business who wants to discuss recent challenges with other founders.

I was one of this year’s volunteers that supported running the event, welcoming the guests and speakers in the morning, answering questions and guiding attendees to the correct panels, workshops or talks as well as looking after the smooth course during the day and of the final panel in the evening.

As an MSc Entrepreneurship student, it was an incredibly valuable experience for two main reasons:

1) Hosting an event

I learned many things in terms of event organisation and what it takes to successfully set up and run a conference this size. The organiser Aurore Hochard gave us the responsibility to organise ourselves, react flexibly to upcoming challenges and, of course, decide when to ask for help.

2) Networking

Networking and discussing the raised issues with entrepreneurs and industry experts gave me great insight from the perspective of people who have been working in the field for 20+ years, which has definitely changed my opinion on some of the topics.

Professor Scott Moeller: What should a startup do next? IPO, Acquisition or Dual Track

My perspective on the topic of a founder exit was that it was a question to deal with in the later stage of launching a company, after successfully running it for several years. However, after attending Professor Scott Moeller’s session “What should a start-up do next? IPO, Acquisition or Dual Track”, I had a conversation with him on this topic, and he said it is crucial for an entrepreneur to think about the exit even when you haven’t yet founded your company.

From my own experience, I would encourage everyone who is an (aspiring) entrepreneur or interested in these topics to keep an eye out for next year’s conference.

Fabian Ronig, MSc Entrepreneurship (2020)

Strength in Diversity

Recently, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) hosted the first ever “Logistics and Transportation Diversity Challenge” event, a day designed to demonstrate how increased diversity in a team leads to higher productivity, performance and drives innovation.

The event drew 30 teams from companies such as Coca-Cola, DHL, National Express, Siemens, and more. As students in the MSc Global Supply Chain Management course, we have student membership to the CILT and were able to participate. So along with eight of my course mates in MSc Global Supply Chain Management, I travelled up to Newark to represent Cass Business School at the event.

After arrival and putting on our team shirts, the day began with a keynote speech highlighting the aim of the day and the significance of diversity in the work environment. Then we were off! Our team was tested through 14 challenges, requiring different levels of skill, stamina and problem solving, all while being incredibly fun. We climbed an unclimbable ladder, we learned archery, and we performed a Haka. We tested our knowledge in trivia, strategized through an assault course and more.

As we worked through the challenges, we were able to experience the benefit of diversity within our own team. Our varying backgrounds and identities helped us be strategic in earning the most points for each challenge. Each individual shined at a different event, and by the end of the day we were much closer as a team than we had been going into this diversity challenge.

While we may not have scored the top spot and coveted “Team of the Year” award, we did place 3rd out of the 30 competing, which we were very excited about! Overall, it was a great day of practicing team-building skills and meeting professionals from the logistics and transport industry. I look forward to future teams representing Cass and taking away as much from this event as we did.

Julia Elliott
MSc Global Supply Chain Management, 2019

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