“Having grown up in Burkina Faso, where unemployment rates are high, I’ve always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit”
When entering one of the most competitive sectors in business – private equity – how do you set yourself apart from the competition? Prince Ilboudo gives us his take on the Masters in Finance programme and its impact on his career so far.
To get the most out of a programme like the Masters in Finance, you have to be based in London. It’s an incredibly diverse city full of ambitious, intelligent people and some of the world’s biggest private equity and VC firms (think Helios, CDC and Index Ventures). LBS’s close proximity to these organisations means experts regularly come in and give talks, which is great.
Stan Beckers, Chair of the AQR Asset Management Institute, led our Asset Management business practitioner course, and Jim Strang, MD and Chairman EMEA at Hamilton Lane, taught some of our PE/VC classes. Having access to such individuals just wouldn’t happen at other business schools. I applied to the programme to gain a comprehensive education in financial analysis, investment analysis and corporate finance, and to hone my quantitative and analytics skills. I’ve definitely achieved that.
The calibre of the LBS faculty was the main reason I wanted to study here. Having worked in equity trading for Capital Group since 2016, I’d noticed that numerous finance journal authors were also professors at LBS. Professor of Finance Chris Hennessy and Visiting Professor of Finance Magnus Dahlquist, for example, regularly contribute to the Journal of Finance and Financial Economics.
I love how professors here encourage you to see things in a new way. One of my favourites is Dr Chris Higson, Associate Professor of Accounting Practice. He made the accounting class practical and interactive, with real life case studies and current examples, some of which were also simultaneously being covered in the Financial Times.
During my undergraduate days in the US, I always reflected on the lack of diversity in my cohort. Here, it couldn’t be more different. My classmates are a real mix; my FinTech elective study group, for example, consisted of students from the UK, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, the US and Colombia. Everyone draws on their own experiences and the rules and regulations of their own countries. This showed us where the holes in our own models were, should we want to scale a business idea up across different territories.
Having grown up in Burkina Faso, where unemployment rates are high, I’ve always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit. This is something that runs through the school and is evident in LBS’s Entrepreneurship Summer School. It was something I was intent on doing but found out it was usually only available to MBA students. I reached out to the MiF team and explained why I wanted to take part and that it was a huge reason why I came to LBS. They then worked with the Entrepreneurship Institute and made it happen, which I really appreciated. It turned out to be a fantastic experience for me and helped me learn how to test business ideas through hands-on market research. It goes to show that if you’re passionate enough about something, LBS will support you to achieve your goals.
I spoke to several MiF alumni before applying to understand what LBS was all about. Andre Voinea, then at FTSE Russell and Solomon Durodola, who at the time was an investment advisor, were very helpful. The LBS community is incredibly engaged; it’s so easy to reach out to people on LinkedIn or arrange a chat over coffee. The alumni are really receptive – I’ve talked to them about everything from my career and entrepreneurship to how to leverage an LBS degree.
I’ve continued to foster a passion for my home continent through LBS’ Africa Club. I’m the club’s Treasurer and am responsible for managing the club’s finances and raising money for our main events – the next of which is the Africa Business Summit. I’m also a member of the Private Equity/Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship clubs, and a student ambassador.
The LBS experience really is what you make of it. Take every opportunity to engage with students and alumni through social clubs or professional events. It’s a cliché, but the more you put in, the more you get out.