Tatiana Serganova studied BSc Business and International Finance, 2011, and now works for an advertising software start-up. We caught up with her for our continuing #Cassat50 series.
Why did you come to Cass?
I’m was an international student and I did a foundation programme in London – which is like A’ Levels but a programme specifically for foreign students. I fell in love with London and knew Cass was one of the top schools in London, so when I knew I wanted to stay in London, I researched more and the School ticked all the boxes. Most Bachelor’s degrees are pretty broad, covering subjects like accounting, and I wanted to do something applicable for my future career. I chose Banking and International Finance which was very specific on one hand, with no broad knowledge base, but it also covers lots of different aspects and including insight in to the world of investments.
What was your experience of studying at Cass like?
My experience was very funny! One thing I remember is that I had this teacher in banking who taught the core banking module, and she was really great. We joined the course in 2008 at the peak of the financial crisis and as soon as we entered the room she said “It’s the financial crisis bankers are jumping out of windows and crazy things are happening, so it’s a good time to study!” I had such an interesting time, and I wrote numerous essays on why the crisis happened. Historically it was a great moment to study finance, very different from the normal experience.
I did a Masters afterwards (not at Cass) so I can compare, and Cass has a very good quality of lecturers. Everyone is very accomplished and we had people from the Bank of England, and big financial firms speaking to us. I really acknowledged the quality of the academics.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time at Cass?
My first memory and also a highlight was when I entered and saw all the crazy stuff like the timetable and essays I was going to have to do, and I felt very overwhelmed. I thought there was no way I would be able to finish the course, it was so complex and I’m from another country the ways things are done are so different. Just looking back it’s funny I thought that. I graduated with honours – so it’s great to see your progress!
How has studying at Cass changed your life?
Well essentially for me it was a game changer. When I moved from abroad, Cass introduced me to the professional work environment, a new country and new friends and I’m grateful for all the experiences. I’ve got lots of good friends from Cass that I’m still in touch with, and some went with me to do a Masters. It’s great to be connected to so many like-minded people.
I didn’t pursue a career in finance but my degree gave me a good start and a very solid base in accounting, finance and economics, which are very applicable for any profession. Doing my degree was a big part of my life, when you’re in your 20s it’s a big deal and if counts for a lot.
After I finished my Cass degree I did an internship but then decided going in to finance was not the right career move. The studies were great but I did not see a career for me, although my parents wanted me to pursue it. I had the realisation that I wanted to do something new and tech-driven so I did a Masters in Digital Marketing. I was accepted into the programme without any questions because Cass gave me good breadth. When people ask where you studied, and hear Cass, they always say “Wow! Good school!”.
And you’re a mentor too?
Yes, I’m a mentor in the Professional Mentoring Programme run by City. I really always wanted to and so when I got email about how to be more involved, I had to volunteer. I remember myself being a student and not knowing how to apply for jobs and what to do with my career – I was not sure of the path or where to turn to. So I was very confused and didn’t know what to do, and hopefully my experiences can help someone else now.
This is my first year in the programme and I’m working with a 2nd year student from City. It’s going well. He had the aim to increase his employability skills and get a placement, so we worked on that and he got a placement and felt very motivated by me. I’ll always remember how I felt and how wished I had someone to guide me, so it’s great to give back.