Investing in Skills for the Future

Meet Our Student Ambassadors | MIF | Nicolas Tan & Raphael Lambert

The image above was taken before COVID-19.

ESSEC Business School’s Master of Finance (MIF) has consistently ranked as one of the world’s best programs by the Financial Times, with graduates high in demand by recruiters like Ardian, Morgan Stanley, and HSBC. Current students, Raphael Lambert and Nicolas Tan from the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus share how they see this investment paying off in the future.

Imagine being alone in the office when a client calls with a EUR$5 million deal to close. Back then, Nicolas Tan, a current ESSEC Master of Finance (MIF) student, was only two weeks into his apprenticeship at the forex (FX) sales department of Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking.

To put this into perspective, the 24-year-old says, “I would estimate that the average of the deals I had done at that time were only around EUR$50,000!”

The client wanted answers fast, but the traders — who had the information — were unfamiliar with Nicolas, making it challenging for him to get what he needed. The stakes were high and the pressure, immense.

“I told the client I would call him back and went straight into the trading room to find the trader face-to-face. I introduced myself, explained the deal and who my usual teammates were because that would make more sense to him, and make him more willing to help,” Nicolas says.

He succeeded in holding the fort and walked away relieved but also realizing that it is not just technical knowledge in the finance sector, but also soft skills like relationship management and the ability to take the pressure that will help one thrive.

The Evolution of the Finance Sector

Arguably, the demand for these skills has only increased with the challenges finance professionals face. As technology advances, so have customer expectations. The regulatory landscape has also shifted in tandem, opening doors to disruptive innovations like mobile payments and crypto-currencies.

Competition for jobs is also becoming more intense. At 22 years old, Nicolas had secured an apprenticeship, but Raphael Lambert, who is now 22, struggled to find employment after completing his Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

This obstacle came despite his strong profile. Being a French-Chinese who has lived in Ireland, the US, UK, and Hong Kong, Raphael demonstrated the global mobility and adaptability that employers want. He also came equipped with a degree from the University of Chicago in the States and with internship experience at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong under his belt.

Yet, he realized he needed to do more. With an ambition to work in investment banking, asset management, or private equity, he saw ESSEC’s career-oriented MIF program as an ideal solution.

“The majority of courses at ESSEC go beyond teaching strong theoretical basics to also application,” Raphael says, elaborating that the staple of group work ensures students have a platform to practice both the hard and soft skills needed.

More importantly, the MIF program also allows students to specialize in one of three tracks: corporate finance, financial markets, or fintech and analytics, so they leave with sufficient domain-specific knowledge and competencies needed for a global career.

Asia-Focused Skills and Networking

“There are also numerous talks by corporations and experienced professionals organized by the Asia-Pacific campus. These are great opportunities to learn more about the industry and network,” Raphael says.

Nicolas adds: “Most of our lecturers are also professionals from the financial industry, with high positions in banks in Singapore. This really helps give us the perspective of what employers think.”

These perspectives are especially important to Nicolas, as his career goals are to break into the financial markets in the fast-growing Asian region. As a French-Chinese who has lived in France all his life, he believes his time at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus will be crucial in helping him pick up the cultural nuances and understanding he needs.

He shares that he has benefited immensely from the career workshops offered to the students. These have given him tips to improve his curriculum vitae, cover letter, LinkedIn profile –  and most importantly, on how to boost his personal branding. He also looks forward to connecting with ESSEC’s extensive alumni network. After all, that’s what ESSEC is best at: “Helping you meet people to network.” 

As Nicolas and Raphael both only enrolled in 2020, whether they will succeed is a story that has yet to be written, but the statistics are on their side — 100 percent of MIF graduates find employment within three months of graduation. With the resources from ESSEC and their determination combined, the odds of success in this investment are truly in their favor.

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