New trends, new technologies, extended horizons

"Practical, and immediately applicable in any work environment."

Hilary Mangwanya

Head – Investments, Barclays Africa Group
Participant on the Strategic Investment Management Programme

Risk and return

"Understanding that you can’t just go and grab all the risk and put all your investments in one basket was a strong learning point for me."

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Benchmarking against global trends

"There are a lot of executive education programmes here in South Africa, but I wanted something with a specifically global perspective. Although I’ve enjoyed a rich and varied banking career, I’d reached a place where I felt my skill set needed some enhancement, and I wanted to check in on the latest industry trends. LBS offered me the opportunity to learn alongside ambitious people managing similar businesses elsewhere in the world, with exposure to a global audience and global participants.

In the end, I found the Strategic Investment Management programme an ideal learning environment. We had participants from Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and South America, so it offered me a true understanding of what was happening elsewhere in the industry at a global level. It was also a way for me to benchmark best practice – I engaged with and learnt something from every colleague on the programme. And of course the faculty, Narayan Naik and Stephen Schaefer, and the way they articulated their subjects with such passion, was particularly impressive.

The Investment Fund Simulation was a real highlight for me – not that my group did that well! We were too greedy and took too many risks so didn’t end up with the desired outcome, but understanding that you can’t just go and grab all the risk and put all your investments in one basket was a strong learning point for me. We went very aggressive on speculative bonds and didn’t balance it out with other asset classes – it was the perfect ‘safe’ environment in which to try out new strategies. It was also a great way to experience team dynamics, with a smart group of people who were a little removed from investment decision-making. They helped me look at different aspects in addition to the very technical components I was used to.

What was most useful was to see that, within the industry, some things stay the same, and others change. The programme was a good reminder that the basics are still valid no matter what. Times change, but the fundamental principles of investment remain solid, something that the professors reinforced. And in contrast, it’s key to identify current and emerging trends. For example, people are living longer, so pension funds now need to invest for lifespans of up to 100 years, rather than the traditional span of 65-70 years.

Then of course, there’s the emergence of new technologies and alternative asset classes. I really took that on board, and now I’m back at work we’re beginning to experiment with new and slightly riskier alternative assets that build more wealth for our clients, as opposed to the more conservative route we’d always followed before. Our move into fixed income and other securities has generated a lot of interest, and we now have clients asking for more exposure, and more geographic diversification. So we’ve started taking some funds offshore – only a small 10-30% - but something that reflects people’s appetite for risk. Slowly, and carefully, we’re moving towards more non-traditional areas."

Taking it back to work

"Now I’m back at work we’re experimenting with alternative assets that build more wealth for our clients."

Innovative improvements

"After the programme I decided to start investing in fixed income and other securities. We’ve eased into it carefully, but are already starting to see excellent results."

Open to new ideas

"Hearing testimony from other successful and ambitious industry participants gave me the confidence to implement new ideas."

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Raising the ceiling

"The programme was, and is, quite a journey. Sometimes now at work I suddenly sit up and realise I’m doing something as a result of what I learnt at LBS. But the main outcome is a big increase in confidence. There are certain things I’ve always tried to do, or known about, and when you get that knowledge and understanding reinforced by a highly regarded professor from LBS, and by an amazing cohort, you believe in yourself and your ability to implement things far more.

I see a lot more opportunities ahead than I did prior to joining the programme. It’s opened my eyes to different opportunities within my group, including heading up the global investment and liquidity team - that would be a really interesting option to pursue. There’s still a way to go, but the programme has definitely extended my horizons. I’ve realised the ceiling of my career is far higher than I expected, and at some point soon, I’m looking to continue my learning through London Business School’s Senior Executive Programme.

When you look at a five day programme on paper, it might not seem to have a lot of content, but the Strategic Investment Management programme was extremely intense. I got what felt like a full semester of learning in just five days. The structure was excellent, with valuable real life case studies and a lot of after hours work. There were also a number of guest speakers, so it was roughly a 50/50 split between faculty and external industry experts. We heard from top executives, founders of large organisations, people from commodities, hedge funds and private equity. But I found it wasn’t just about investments – to me it felt like a much broader finance course. It was intense and it was exciting - five days of really hard work, being taught by the best minds in the industry."

Strategic Investment Management

Finance expertise, strategic thinking and a highly practical approach.