It’s not just cutting-edge financial and accounting knowledge that participants gain on the INSEAD Executive Master in Finance (EMFin). INSEAD’s Career Development Centre (CDC) also supports EMFin participants with a wide array of powerful resources, helping them take their careers to new heights.
But how does the CDC’s work support a career change exactly, and what does it take to make a successful transition to a new role? We asked three INSEAD alumni to share their stories.
From commercial banking to asset management:
Ada Dong, EMFin Class of 2019
Vice President at Mirae Asset Securities
I’m originally from China, but I’ve studied and worked in Singapore since I was 18. Before signing up for the EMFin, I was an Associate Director of debt syndication services at a leading bank in Singapore. My role involved engaging with institutional investors over a highly specific kind of bond transaction.
It’s a pretty specialised area and the product knowledge isn’t easily transferable to other financial products. And while senior people do move around between banks, they tend to stay on in the same roles for a very long time.
I thought: “Do I want to stay in this field forever and fight for one of the few promotions that may come up? Or do I want to look for something different that I can excel in?” I decided to embark on the EMFin at INSEAD to help me figure out the answer to that question.
It’s been a transformative experience. The first revelation was how much more there is to the programme than acquiring technical knowledge.
The resources offered by the CDC for instance, have been invaluable.
These helped me grasp the importance of soft skills like presentation, which proved particularly important in convincing a potential employer that I can lead a team and perform at a high level, regardless of the role or function I’m looking to take on.
After graduating, I found a role within a leading Korean asset management firm in Singapore. It’s a smaller set-up, but it offers a highly sophisticated set of products that I’ve found easy to come to grips with, thanks to the financial and accounting knowledge I gleaned in the EMFin.
Now, I manage a wider range of products – acquisition loans as well as bonds. The role also offers exciting opportunities to stretch myself. Last year, for instance, I pitched a plan to our head office for setting up a global capital markets team based in Singapore. They loved the idea and I’ll be leading the project.
From commodity trading to private equity:
Craig Perkins, EMFin Class of 2019
Senior Energy Trader, Clean Energy Transfer Fund
Born and bred in Australia, I spent 15 years in trading. I’d worked mostly in large global firms specialising in commodity markets such as electricity, coal and gas. Thanks largely to INSEAD’s EMFin programme, I now have a senior role in a small, privately owned hedge fund – quite a shift.
At the time I signed up for INSEAD in Singapore, the trading landscape was undergoing rapid change. We’d seen an exponential rise in algorithmic trading, along with new asset management trading platforms based on hedging around the performance of all kinds of assets, including coal mines – one of the markets I specialised in.
I realised I needed to upskill to succeed in this more complex new environment. I decided to focus on upgrading my finance skills so I could diversify from pure trading and take advantage of any new opportunities in asset management trading.
As I had practically zero background in finance, the EMFin was a steep learning curve. But it has transformed my skillset and career, and put me on the path I wanted to go down. After graduating, I found a role at my current firm, a hedge fund that trades in clean energy.
The EMFin has given me the financial tools and frameworks I need to help decide the firm’s trading strategy, based on the funds coming in from our private investors and other sources. While I’m not a finance expert, I have the knowledge I need to be able to engage with investors in an in-depth way, ask the right questions, hire the right people and continuously develop new perspectives on managing portfolios.
Aside from the technical knowledge, the CDC really helped facilitate my career switch.
For instance, I got a lot out of a resource that focused on how understanding your personality traits can help boost performance. In my case, this helped me identify the kind of work environments where I can be most effective and efficient. I’m really enjoying being in a smaller organisation right now, where I get to do everything from trading to settlements to talking about how we finance the business.
I believe that for any prospective employer, the simple fact that a candidate has completed a programme like INSEAD’s EMFin says so much. It demonstrates adaptability for one thing, and a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and learn new things. It’s certainly been hugely valuable for me.
From financial services to the technology sector:
Songjie Yeo, EMFin Class of 2017
Business Development Manager – Payments, Amazon
I initially signed up for the EMFin programme to help me progress my career in the financial services industry. I was working for a leading bank in Singapore in a business development and strategic planning role, but as the commercial banking sector began to change, I wanted to boost my skillset.
At that stage, I had no idea this decision would ultimately lead to me shifting sectors – from finance to technology!
EMFin and the CDC encouraged me to be more open to the different directions my career could go in. I was given a lot of support to help me consider where I was in my career, what my possibilities were and which of my skills were transferable. That really opened my eyes to the potential that was there for personal growth.
The CDC has amazing resources to help with building your personal brand, crafting your CV and pitching to prospective employees. It offers a virtual peer-to-peer practise group for example, which mixes together MBA participants from all three INSEAD campuses. It’s facilitated by careers coaches, with the idea being to practise pitching yourself by drawing on your network. It can be really useful to understand whether your pitch is convincing enough for prospective hirers outside the finance sector to take you on.
I’m certainly proof that EMFin participants can take their careers in very different directions.
The sky’s really the limit if you want to make the most of the resources on offer at INSEAD to drive your career development journey.