Case study

Masters in finance student — Anna Armani

Anna studied for a BSc Economics at University College London (UCL) before embarking on a finance career. Now a commercial principal at Genel Energy, Anna is studying part-time for a Masters in Finance (MiF) at London Business School (LBS)

Why did you opt for a career in finance?

I find that the finance world really engages your mind while holding you accountable to a high standard. You must be on top of the numbers because most of the time returns, considerations and financing structures is what people pay attention to. However, you also have a chance to get creative with it - how to finance a transaction, how to phase your growth project etc. There are plenty of opportunities for you to express yourself in this dynamic industry.

Additionally, in my view, finance serves as a bridge to other industries. While being in a finance role I have expanded my knowledge in the energy and infrastructure sectors. If there is more than one field that interests you, finance allows you to tap into that industry as well.

Give us a brief overview of your employment history.

I started my career in the European Energy Group at Credit Suisse in the Investment Banking Division based in London, where I was involved in numerous M&A transactions across the entire energy sector.

After developing a particular interest in oil and gas, I joined Genel Energy as a commercial principal. I am responsible for assessing M&A opportunities globally, providing detailed analysis and strategic recommendations to the executive committee and the board of directors.

What led you to study for a Masters at this point in your career?

As I was advancing in my career, I recognised the importance of having a postgraduate degree in finance to excel in my day-to-day job and to support my candidacy for future senior management positions.

Therefore, I believe it is crucial to develop a solid set of skills in accounting, corporate finance, and management, as well as a clear understanding of a company's strategy, organisational behaviour, effective human resource management and sustainable energy development - all aspects covered by the core and elective courses offered by LBS.

Why did you choose London Business School?

I wanted to give myself the  best chance to achieve my professional goals by obtaining the Masters in Finance ranked number one by the Financial Times (FT) and recommended to me by a number of LBS alumni.

Importantly, the MiF part-time structure is highly attractive, as it enables me to continue working while obtaining a degree. I can implement my new skills straightaway, while I continue to grow as an expert in my field.

Tell us more about the course.

The part-time Masters In Finance spans over two years. Year one focuses on core courses (financial analysis and accounting, investments, corporate finance). The format is very straightforward - there is a week's orientation at the start of the course, followed by lectures every other Saturday with tutorials during the week in the evening. Core modules usually have coursework throughout the term and a final exam at the end.

Year two focuses only on electives. LBS offers a range of electives, covering finance, economics, accounting, strategy and entrepreneurship and management science and operations. There are also various formats, such as weekend classes, evenings and day lectures. You can tailor your elective experience to whatever interests you. Assessment varies too, it could be course work, group projects, exams and class participation.

In addition to obtaining a Masters degree, you will also have a choice to do a concentration in the field of your interest. I am currently on track for dual-concentration in CFO & corporate finance. Obtaining a concentration means that you have several certain electives that you must take in order to classify for that concentration.

How do you balance working and studying?

It's been challenging to find that balance. Having the right people around you makes a huge difference. Going into the programme, I was prepared for lectures and exams, but I underestimated the amount of work that needs to be done between lectures including short assignments, group projects and readings for upcoming lectures. You find yourself coming home after work and studying in the evening.

Support from your family and friends is crucial. I am very lucky to have the support I need from my loved ones, who give me time and space to focus on my studies and are very understanding and proud of my LBS journey.

LBS is understanding of people's commitment too, even though you may have plenty of assignments, the deadlines for those usually fall on a weekend and you are given plenty of notice, so you have time to plan accordingly.

Your employer plays a big role in your success too. You may need to take some time off work if you decide to take a block week elective, or you need some days to prepare for and sit exams. It is crucial that you have an honest and open chat with your employer, and they are on board with you pursuing the Masters degree.

What do you enjoy about the course?

I really like the practical approach to teaching. All modules both core and electives, focus on practical application of theory. I did not want to memorise formulas and theories and then be unable to implement them in real life. LBS provides a good combination of theory to lay down the fundamentals and then practical application through review of case studies and class discussions.

The people are another aspect that I truly cherish. My cohort has people from different backgrounds, both personally and professionally, which stimulates amazing class discussions. It's a great way to expand your network and find new friends for life.

What are the challenges?

Making time for your studies, which means you may need to make some sacrifices. Grading is also done on a curve, so simply getting 70%+ won't give you an 'A' if everyone else in the class got that too.

How does LBS support you in juggling your studies with your personal life?

I am not a typical MiF student as I had a baby during my first year at LBS. I chose to continue with my studies during my maternity leave at work. LBS have been incredibly supportive of my situation and allowed me to take some classes online.

How are you funding your Masters?

I am a Women's Merit Scholarship recipient at London Business School, which means I received a funding grant. The rest I am financing myself.

How has the Masters in Finance helped your career?

I am more confident and vocal in expressing my opinion, sharing ideas and even bringing solutions to the table based on what I have learned in class.

Additionally, LBS opens many doors and facilitates connections. You meet new people in lectures, in clubs based on your interests and even in general on campus, which then widens your network significantly.

What are your career ambitions?

In the long term, I aspire to be part of an executive management team (Head of a business division) in the next five years and to become a CFO/CEO in the next ten years, which is why my dual concentration of CFO in conjunction with corporate finance will play an important role.

What advice can you give to others considering a Masters?

Be prepared to put in extra hours and late evenings. Also, take this opportunity to expand your network, to learn from your professors who are experts in their fields, to participate in many events and clubs and immerse yourself in the LBS life.

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