Narassa has been at Sygnia since 2009, where she worked her way up from Trainee Quantitative Analyst to Head of Quants/Research. She is also an Executive Director of the company. She has a Business Science Degree with Honors in Finance from the University of Cape Town and attended the Strategic Investment Management programme in June 2013.
I came to London Business School to gain an international view on the work we do at Sygnia. For me, the Strategic Investment Management programme offered an unsurpassed opportunity to gain specialist knowledge and interact with people in similar positions from all over the world. I had moved up the ranks very quickly to my role as Director and Head of Quants/Research, so those five days offered me the time and space to take a step back and look at the work we do from a big-picture perspective.
The networking opportunities were extremely valuable and I still keep in touch with many of the other students. Having only been exposed to the South African retirement industry, it was an eye-opener to get so many different opinions on investment. The insights I gained from both the professors and my peers were invaluable. A particular highlight was the practical skills that I gained in strategic asset allocation; working in small teams on case studies and deciding together on asset allocations, and howto select shares, was a fascinating process.Experiencing how people in different industries, from varying geographical locations, approach business so differently gave me a huge mind shift and really broadened my horizons.I also gained so much from the faculty and guest speakers, and the positive dialogue they encouraged. I became one of those students that professors must tire of – approaching them after every session to ask more about what we had just learned! They were always very open, willing to discuss any questions with me, and their passion was a real highlight of my experience.
Having acquired my undergraduate and honors degrees in South Africa, this was both my first short business programme and my first study abroad. With a globally renowned brand behind me, I returned back to South Africa proud and excited to take my new knowledge back to work to share with my colleagues. It was a huge confidence boost knowing that I was now able to interact with a variety of people, communicate with them as an equal and even, sometimes, challenge them.
While the programme was very practical, it was also grounded in rigorous academic theory. In many ways the academic content, using the latest investment management research, acted as a crash course. It expanded on and clarified the theory behind what we do – breaking down the formulae and models at the base of our work. Being able to tie the theory back to our practice was really useful. It was affirming to have confirmed so many of the processes and protocols that we use in our firm when managing and administering pension funds. I came back with the full knowledge that the principles we use are on the right track. That, in addition to my increased global awareness, means that I’m now able to make strategic decisions.