To celebrate #Cassat50 – 50 years of the Business School, we’ve been speaking to alumni about the impact Cass has had on their life. Danial Abbas studied BSc Investment and Financial Risk Management, graduating in 2010.
Why did you come to Cass?
Cass being very highly regarded in the FT rankings (it was then and it still is now) was the main reason it was brought to my attention. My sister also already studied at Cass and spoke highly of the University and the level of teaching and research. The advantage Cass had due to its geographical proximity to the financial district was also an asset. Especially because my aspirations lay in getting into the financial markets in the city.
What was your experience studying at Cass?
I very much enjoyed it – I have very fond memories looking back, and the memories are still fresh. I met an extremely diverse set of individuals; and not just my peers but also my lecturers and professors were all from very diverse backgrounds. Some people’s backgrounds were more in research, some from industry, and some were currently in industry. It was fantastic to mix with peers with backgrounds from all over the world and all over the UK too, from grammar schools, state schools, and private schools. Doing group coursework I benefitted a lot from this range of perspectives
The practicality of the course stood me in good stead for afterwards. When I look back and discuss my course with others who studied at different institutions, their courses were more theoretical – Cass prides itself on adding these practical elements. This was really useful in looking for a job and setting up my own business, because it both gave me the relevant tools and the mindset to do it.
What is your favourite memory from studying at Cass?
That’s difficult! I’ve got lots of good memories both on the academic and personal side of the experience. This one is a good mix of the two.
One time after our lecture a few of us went to have coffee with our lecturer, Sotiris [Staikouras]. It really demonstrates the atmosphere Cass has – Sotiris had no obligation to socialise with us, and it was his initiative. We were all very happy to go along and talk not just about academics but personal things too – it added a nice element to our relationship which really benefitted our studies.
How did studying at Cass change your life?
First of all, I’m very glad to have that Cass branding on my CV, as shallow as it sounds. It’s very important in the employment market and in business; people seem very hung up still on where you studied.
Straight after Cass I did a Masters at Warwick, because I wanted the diversity of studying outside London and at a different type of institution. Warwick’s course was much more theoretical, which gave me a good mix. After Warwick I entered the job market at a very difficult time for trading. For a couple of years I applied and applied for roles without success.
I was sure and adamant that I wanted a trading role, but this break was a blessing in disguise as I set up my own business as a property developer. The financials, number crunching, finding the opportuning, and thinking about the big picture, doing all these was a result of skills, information, theory and confidence from Cass. I was able to go and seek this opportunity and think differently to 99% of people in the industry and establish myself quickly.
I now have 10 properties in London that I rent out and I continue to expand, all whilst it remains a complete one man show. I do the finance, sourcing, maintenance and tenant relationships. Cass gave me lots of the tools required for all these elements, so the business side of my life comes directly from Cass.
On the job side, now that I’m a financial market trader and I trade commodities, I need to follow macro events, the commodities market, the stock markets, etc. and the modules I took at Cass are so closely linked to my day-to-day working. If I look at the textbooks from Cass they are not as useful as my Cass lecture notes – which is quite surprising but it’s not only me who still refers to my notes! At work I sit next to an MSc alumnus and he uses the online journals and does the same thing with his notes, to help us day-to-day.
So basically, Cass has helped me get where want to go and continues to help too! Tomorrow I don’t know what the job market will be; oil and gas are tricky. But I have a solid foundation of properties which means I’ll always have a roof over my head and Cass has a large role in that. I’m relatively young and already feel Cass has made a significant impact on my life to date.