Case study – Youssef Ebrik

What is your nationality?YE

Palestinian.

What/when did you study at Durham?

I received my MSc Finance degree from Durham in January 2014.

What are you doing now – employer and role?

 I am currently an Associate with KPMG‘s Deal Advisory team in the UAE.

 What does your job involve? 

My job mainly involves working on mergers & acquisitions from a due diligence perspective.

 How did your time at Durham help you to succeed? 

I have learned a lot from my time at Durham. Other than improving my technical skills and learning more about my field of interest through the classes I took and the career events I attended, my soft skills were also enhanced by interacting with people from different backgrounds.

What advice would you give to current students? 

My advice to current students would be to first figure out what they want to do, take classes which are relevant to their field of interest, and glean as much as they can from the classes since those skills will be applied in their careers. Also, a very important bit would be to network as much as possible. Career events are usually a good place to start.

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Case Study – Michelle Okoyomo

What is your nationality?Michelle O

Nigerian

What/when did you study at Durham?

2010-2011, MSc. Finance and Investment, Ustinov College.

Dissertation: Managerial Over-confidence and Cross-border Mergers and Acquisitions: An analysis of bidder’s performance in cross-border acquisitions managed by overconfident and non-confident managers. Distinction Earned in Dissertation

What are you doing now?

Investment Banking (“IB”) Analyst at Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, a leading boutique Investment Bank headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria

What does your job involve?

My role as an IB Analyst involves advising and assisting clients in various industries to achieve their business growth objectives whether it’s their need to undertake/explore strategic options such as mergers & acquisitions, or seeking capital for business expansion.

This requires carrying out an in-depth analysis of the client’s business and industry to understand the growth drivers as well as analysing the company’s financial performance to identify an optimal strategic alternative/source of capital (equity or debt) to raise depending on the operating dynamics of the business.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

My studies at Durham equipped me with the skill sets required for a successful career in Investment Banking.

My course work and experience developing my dissertation enabled me develop strong research, analytical and project management skills.

Planning, researching and presenting my dissertation enhanced my ability to understand and analyse complex data to identify trends and make informed decisions. In addition, this experience helped me learn how to effectively manage a project and present ideas and findings.

With Durham having a diverse body of students from all over the world, I enjoyed working in seminar projects with people from different backgrounds which helped me develop good people skills.

What advice would you give to current students?

Identify what goals you seek to achieve from an education in Durham, develop a goal schedule, plan your time and never procrastinate.

Time goes by before you know it. Make the best out of the short time you have.

Engage yourself in all the many social and professional activities. Try meeting up with any of the companies of interest that come for a career talk because there are a whole bunch of them that visit the school.

Take time to enjoy Durham in the summer, the scenery is beautiful.

Any other information you want to provide?

Excelling in Durham requires a lot of hardwork but what is most important is working smart and efficiently. Like I said, time management is key.

Case Study – Damilola Fakiyesi

What is your nationality? NigerianDamilola Fakiyesi 2

What/when did you study at Durham? MSc Economics & Finance, October 2009 to January 2011.

What are you doing now? I work with Access Bank Plc in Lagos, Nigeria. I am a Transactor, Project & Structured Finance Group.

What does your job involve? My job involves the arranging and structuring of project finance loans to include limited and non recourse financing.

It also involves the analysis of company and industry fundamentals, financial modeling, forecasts and the provision of structuring and advisory support to core market facing units.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

My time at Durham University has been fundamental to my career growth. I can say Durham made possible my transition from Retail Banking to Investment Banking. While I remember the process being tough, the knowledge has stayed with me ever since. Constant practice before and during the seminar sessions all through the MSc. built a strong modeling foundation, which I have been able to apply to Project Finance.

What advice would you give to current students?

Take advantage of every learning opportunity provided during your time in Durham If you are a postgraduate student and happen to be in Ustinov College take advantage of the multi-cultural background to learn about different cultures and exchange ideas. Enjoy every second of your time at Durham and work hard, the result is worth it. Finally take the boat ride and take lots of pictures.

Any other information you want to provide?

The local Durham University Alumni and Durham University Business School Alumni in Nigeria has also been pivotal I’m my career development which is another avenue both current and graduating students can utilize either in providing guidance for research work or for networking.

Case study – Nida Junaid

What is your nationality?Nida

Pakistani.

What/when did you study at Durham?

MSc Accounting and Finance 2009

What are you doing now?

I was hired by Serco Middle East as Assistant Revenue Planning Manager. Serco is running the operations of Dubai Metro system in the United Arab Emirates along with other facilities and management services for different organizations. I was primarily in the Dubai Metro Finance Team responsible for handling Revenue Operations. After 4 years of service I joined the United Arab Emirates University as a Finance Instructor. This University is based in Alain, UAE and is the largest Government sector University in the region.

What does your job involve?

My job is pure finance since I teach all the principle and advanced courses in finance including “Principles of Financial Management”, ” Corporate Finance” and “Banking Operations Management”.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

My time at Durham has definitely given me the boost I needed in my career. The name Durham in itself is a source of pride for me, however all the finance and accounting courses I was taught were very useful in both the roles in my respective organizations.

What advice would you give to current students?

All the best and yes, you should hold the pride in yourself to be graduating from a top tier University in the UK.

Lun Chai aiming high!

Name: Lun ChaiLun Chai
Course: MSc International Banking and Finance
Graduated: 2011
Nationality: Chinese
Employer: Lombard Risk
Current position: Business Consultant (Regulatory Reporting)

I am working as a business consultant at Lombard Risk (in the City of London), a financial services firm. I specialise in regulatory reporting for banking clients and create automated reports of credit risk and liquidity risk to the Bank of England and European Banking Authority.

I chose to study the MSc in International Banking and Finance at the University of Durham Business School due to the excellent academic teaching, fantastic international reputation, plus the very beautiful location.

I really enjoyed my Advanced Financial Theory lectures and seminars. The teacher provided ample opportunity to present ideas in front of the whole class. I also appreciated the help from my dissertation professor who was really knowledgeable and professional. I learnt a lot from our one to one sessions.

I applied to Lombard Risk because I was very interested in the regulatory reporting/compliance sector, and it is one of the top leaders in the market to provide compliance solutions for banks and investment firms.

I discovered this opportunity on efinancialcareers.com. After the initial application I completed three rounds of interviews with managers and directors which required substantial research and preparation.

I very much appreciated help from Durham University Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre. This provides students with lots of tips and information about the current job market and how to secure a job before you complete your studies. They helped me to review my CV and practice a mock face to face interview. I found this support extremely helpful, so you should make the most of it while you are at Durham to save you lots of trouble and help you avoid silly mistakes during your job hunting.

Aleksandar’s finance success

Name: Aleksandar Zahariev Aleksandar Zahariev

Course: MSc Corporate and International Finance

Graduated: 2011

Nationality: Bulgarian

Employer: Bulgarian Deposit Insurance Fund 

Durham is a very prestigious university with attractive tuition fees, a peaceful campus and well recognized financial program. What I liked most from my time there was the way we were expected to become proficient in our chosen field through our own research. As a passionate sports person I was involved in Durham’s judo society as well as a number of investment societies.

I applied to BDIF after taking the first level of the CFA qualification and a long job search in both the UK and Bulgaria. The position offered was exactly what I wanted – to be in charge of a big fixed income portfolio. The selection process was not as difficult as I expected: I went through two interviews in which I was asked about my knowledge of the fixed income market mechanics and instruments. My preparation proved invaluable. Being Chief Treasury Expert involves controlling the liquidity and profitability of the fund. Being constantly aware of everything happening in the global economy and markets is part of the job description. Also, communication skills play an important role since I am constantly in touch with other dealers via phone or Bloomberg terminal.

The experience gained in Durham is very helpful since it taught me to be attentive, organized and have a keen eye for detail. My advice is anything but straightforward – students should get as much hands-on experience as they can. Nothing is more important than that! Also they should follow their heart, as I did, and bear with the gruesome job market in order to get what they want. Happiness is everything!

Chen progresses to PhD

Name: Chen WangChen Wang
Course: MSc Finance and Investment
Graduated: 2010
Nationality: Chinese
Previous Employers: ISI Group, Manulife Teda AMC 
Current position: PhD Student in Finance, University of Edinburgh

Following my undergraduate studies at Renmin University in China I chose to study the MSc Finance and Investment at Durham University Business School. This was because of its world-class reputation, lovely environment, collegiate system and sound history.

The course was well organized and the structure provided an all round view of the finance and investment subject area. The course has CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) partnership status, which further ensured the quality.

My course was challenging and demanding but I did have time for extracurricular activities including playing for the Basketball Club in Ustinov College. There are many other experiences open to Durham students to enrich their time at university.

After completing my MSc I worked at Manulife Teda AMC from October 2010 to January 2011 as an intern assistant analyst in the Department of Global Investment. After my internship, I returned to the UK for my graduation ceremony in the magnificent Durham Cathedral. Upon my return to China I received job offers from the ISI Group, SPD Bank and Whitruth Capital Investment Ltd. I finally chose to accept the offer from ISI Group, in the China research team as an associate. The company is a Wall Street leading independent research type broker-dealer, with more than 10 offices located in major cities in the US, UK and China. The reason I finally accepted this offer is due to it being a leading position in finance research, excellent global package, and an opportunity to work with an energetic and knowledgeable team, from whom, as a fresh graduate, I could learn a lot.

The selection process was extensive, incorporating 8 interviews. There was one face to face interview in Beijing, one via Skype to Los Angeles, and six via Polycom to New York. Questions related to various aspects of my experience, including financial knowledge, personal background, research I have done, my academic scores, my personality and interests.

The post was varied and interesting and involved arranging corporate visits for fund managers, completing share strategy and banking industry analyses, collecting data from Bloomberg, Datastream, CEIC, Datainsight, Wind and Haver and working with the team to create the daily China research report.

While at ISI Group I was delighted to receive an offer to pursue PhD studies at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD supervisor, Dr Hou, was also my MSc dissertation supervisor at Durham. The knowledge and skills I developed through the course are very practical and helpful when dealing with the real cases during my work and research.

My one year at Durham passed very quickly. I majored in economics as an undergraduate and knew very little about finance, but after completing my MSc I had a very clear understanding about the area (judged by colleagues and supervisors in industry). So if you focus your time on study, you could develop knowledge at Durham to help you to gain an excellent position in the financial sector.