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"Intense Curriculum, Soft And Hard Skills Balance, Metrics To Acquire New Skills"

International alum on his takeaways, study at HSE University, and career. Strategic Corporate Finance master program ‘2018 alum, Edoardo currently works in Brussels in a major energy company. This is a shortened script of his online Q&A session with current students edited for clarity.

"Intense Curriculum, Soft And Hard Skills Balance, Metrics To Acquire New Skills"

Alexander Popov, unsplash
Background

I interact quite a lot with Russia as part of my day-to-day job, so the purpose of the presentation is to give you an informal introduction of what was my path and what has been my academic studies, and how I  did the transition from the academic world into the job market, how I found my first job. Some of the tips that were useful for me, hopefully, could be useful for you. This my path and it does not always apply to everyone, it is just how it went for me. Just take what could potentially fit your profile and see if you can put it into practice. 
I graduated from high school in Italy and I had difficulty choosing what I will be doing in life without not much knowledge about medicine, law, or economics. I chose economics because I found it among one of the most practical sciences. I was always fascinated by people making decisions under certainty and under uncertainty, how a company generates money and wealth for the stakeholders, not only for shareholders. So, I started my academic path in the south of France, in a very lovely place, very touristic. I would say small towns are not the optimal place to build a career in finance.

I had an opportunity to choose among different foreign languages and France has a lot of Russian influence. There is a lot of Russian people around (when I was waiting for the bus, I always heard the Russian language). I decided, maybe, it would be useful to study Russian and that is what I did.  When you study Russian language or any language, all the cultural dimension comes with it. And I said to myself: well, what would be the best place to learn Russian? Of course, France was a good start but then my plan was to go to Russia.
During my bachelor studies, our professor asked us to write our own CV in five years and to think about what you will be in five years’ time, so that is quite a difficult thing if you think about it because five years’ time anything could happen. I think that was a good way to push you to think about what I will be doing. I remember that my dream would have been to become an export manager for a company that does import with Russia, which ultimately did not go too far from reality.
During my studies I have done a couple of exchange programs, the first one was in Poland, then finally I discovered in my third year of my bachelor, my university signed a contract with HSE University. I did not know much about HSE University, so I had to research it and look at what was the university about. I found it a great opportunity to continue studying my Russian language and at the same time learn about economics and finance. So, I moved to Moscow for my exchange program at HSE University. When you are an exchange student you can choose courses from any faculty.
Of course, most of them I have chosen in economics and finance so from the faculty of economic sciences but also a lot of them were in data science and others from the faculty of sociology. So, I have tried a little bit different faculty but of course, my focus has been mostly on finance.
My exchange program was fun. I mean Moscow, if you live there or if you have been there, it is an amazing place. Especially from someone like me who comes from a very small city in Italy that was a big change in size. It takes a little bit of time to move from a place to another you have a little bit of modernity with the fancy, Moscow city skyscraper and of course the more traditional Russian architecture in the center. So, it is a lot of things to do but of course, HSE University is kind of a challenging university so I would say that study takes quite a big part of your day-to-day time. I liked it very much so it was a very difficult choice or what I will do for the master’s program. Whether I should go back to Europe or should I stay for a master’s program where I did my preparation enough to start a master’s program there in finance or shall I go back. That was a bit of a dilemma. I think that many bachelor students have difficulty choosing a master’s program. I think you need to do your homework and check what are the pro and cons of different programs. I will explain further why I recommend the Strategic corporate finance program and why I think it was a valuable program for me. After a while, I finally decided to continue to stay in Moscow and that for me was like at the beginning I was always thinking do I have to choose whether to stay in Moscow, to go back to Europe but if you look at the opportunity that HSE University offer it felt like it is not such a mutually exclusive choice. You can study in Moscow and then also get a double degree from a European university, so I decided why not to choose both.

The first year that I studied in Moscow was intense especially the first semester, this was quite tough. When you get acquainted you get up to speed with the rhythm.  I managed to find a part-time job, an internship in a company in Moscow so I had the opportunity to do a lot in one year in the first year of my master’s. In the second year, I moved to Erasmus university because I got passionate about the commodity market and energy market. Especially because Russia has a lot of interaction with the energy world both economically and politically. My goal was to learn a bit more about how trade flows and commodity flows from Russia into Europe, how do they work, and I thought that going to Rotterdam would have been a great opportunity to further develop my knowledge on that side. Then as part of the HSE University program, I did a double degree with Erasmus university. Of course, I could have also gone to other universities so there is quite a choice.  So, as I said I further developed my knowledge in commodity trading.  I had the opportunity to also choose some courses in energy finance and to visit some of the logistical companies. What I liked about the Strategic corporate finance program is that its focus is not only about finance for investment banking, but there is a lot of focus on you knowing corporate finance and finance supply to the real sector as well. So, I  decided to build a career on that knowledge, and so I went back to Moscow to defend my master thesis.
After that, I decided to start my career in the energy sector in Brussels and got started. It has already been almost three years that I worked for the company. 
What is my life outside work and studies? Well, let us say that takes during my academic and my current work-life I of course manage to find some time for myself. In my free time, I like to learn how to play guitar; I like to do some sport, of course, due to COVID 19 I cannot meet too many friends now.

Q&A session transcript

Intense Curriculum

Admission And Tuition

Cost And Benefits

Hard Skills And Soft Skills Balance

Acquire New Skills

Study Abroad Or A Double Degree

Basic Knowledge Of Russian

Unpaid Internship

Job Search

Mentorship

Study Workload

Programming And Data Analysis

How To Do Well On Exams?