- Programme: Masters in Finance full time
- Nationality: Chinese
- Job Pre-programme: Senior Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hong Kong
- Job Post-programme: Vice President EXS Capital Asia Limited, Hong Kong
Dave Lok has a BBA in Accounting and Finance from HKUST, and also completed an International Business Exchange Programme in Finance at NYU Stern. Prior to enrolling on the Masters in Finance, he was a Senior Associate in the Transaction Services team at PwC HK. Dave has now returned to Hong Kong where he works as Vice President for alternative investment firm EXS Capital.
Filling in skills gaps
After four years at PwC, I became aware that certain elements were missing from my professional profile. I had been advising private equity clients on financial due diligence issues - during this time I developed a real passion for the PE sector, an industry which I found to be intellectually challenging and dynamic. However, the scope of my work at PwC was confined to the financial aspects of transactions at the execution stage; my professional knowledge was valuable and relevant, but it was not enough for me to make a smooth career transition into the PE industry.
Business school was the perfect platform for me to gain a more holistic view of the wider finance industry, and the PE sector in particular. I was looking for a one-year, finance-specific programme that would allow me to share my knowledge and experience with professionals from different fields across the financial markets. I also wanted to experience a more culturally diverse environment, strengthening and expanding my professional network to support a sustainable career.
A global reputation
London Business School’s Masters in Finance programme was a perfect fit for my needs, and the location was also a great draw. To keep up with global markets, it was important for me to pursue my studies in a major financial centre. Hong Kong is my hometown, and given that I had already been on exchange to New York, London was an obvious choice.
The School’s global reputation and the programme’s intellectual capital have been a strong boost to my career. Since the PE industry is both culturally and geographically specific - one has to understand the local culture, speak the language and have geographically-relevant transaction experience - I decided to return to Hong Kong when I graduated. The School is widely recognised within the local finance community here; I secured a number of job interviews because headhunters recognised the London Business School brand and were willing to pitch my case to their clients. The alumni network also opened a number of doors for me, helping me source contacts in the PE industry.
I now work for EXS Capital, an alternative investment firm that sponsors investment opportunities on a deal-by-deal basis in the Asia Pacific region. My new role is very versatile and entrepreneurial – I analyse transactions, build financial models, design investment structures, prepare investment documents and presentations, and pitch investment projects to potential clients. With hindsight, the Masters in Finance programme has equipped me to manage my workload in very practical ways. The London Finance Experience, which included a half-day firm visit and a group presentation, offered a spectacular channel for me to obtain first-hand information about the industry outside the classroom. Classes like Private Equity & Venture Capital and Financing the Entrepreneurial Business sharpened my analytical capabilities and financial modelling skills, both of which are essential to PE veterans.
Perhaps even more important was the diverse study body, an environment that taught me to be more appreciative of cultural differences and enhanced my ability to adapt to a multinational workplace.
An unforgettable off-campus experience
London has a large international population - people are friendly and warm so it’s easy to make new friends and connections, even off-campus. My time in London taught me to appreciate the differences in people, valuing our varied upbringings, professional backgrounds and unique personal exposures. This is something that I didn’t learn from textbooks but from real-life interactions.
During my year at the School, I was co-president of the Table Tennis Club and also a member of the MBA Tournament committee helping organise the annual European business school sports tournament in Paris. Proximity to other European countries was another major benefit of studying in London. I ran my first half-marathon in Paris, and thanks to budget airlines, I travelled to six other countries and over ten cities outside the UK. In London itself, I attended different theatres and visited numerous galleries and museums. Overall, my Masters in Finance experience provided me with an amazing combination – a world-class finance education, and an unforgettable life experience.