“The classes combined theory – how things work – and practice – how things work in the market right now”
“I have three wishes that I hope come true for you all,” said David Kabiller, co-founder and head of business development at AQR to graduating London Business School (LBS) students at 2017 Congregation. “Be curious, take risks and be grateful.”
Lily Chan, Vice President at JP Morgan, was moved by Kabiller’s honorary fellowship acceptance speech at her graduation, a milestone moment in her life. “It was emotional, I hadn’t realised up until that point how much I’d achieved.”
Kabiller’s first point, curiosity, brought Lily to London in 2012. “Having grown up and studied in Hong Kong most of my life, I hoped to broaden my horizons by working abroad, so I seized the opportunity when it came up,” she says. After studying politics and law at the University of Hong Kong, Lily joined global law firm Linklaters in Hong Kong as a trainee solicitor. Then, she took up an offer to relocate and qualify in the City, specialising in derivatives and structured products.
In 2014, still in London, she landed a role with JP Morgan and her career shifted from law to finance. “I joined the bank’s front office,” she says. “I became curious about the economics of deals as I was closer to the business. I wanted to learn more and take my career to the next level so I thought, ‘It’s time to expand my knowledge.’”
In between taking the position at the bank and joining LBS, Lily completed level one and two of the CFA qualification and subsequently level three, while at LBS. “I wanted to do multiple things,” she says. “I heard about the LBS Masters in Finance (MiF), but I also wanted to take the English law qualification and CFA.” Lily managed to do it all.
Kabiller’s second point, risk-taking, is what finance is all about, says Lily. “With risk comes rewards – this is true in finance and I believe in life, too.”
Bolstered by her complementary CFA knowledge, Lily developed the quiet confidence that she could handle the MiF curriculum. “Level one [of the CFA] gave me a broad overview of finance. Level two offered an in-depth dive into specific areas. Level three brought the whole curriculum together,” she says.
So Lily joined LBS in 2015 with a solid foundation in finance, ready to add “more meat” to her growing knowledge. Why choose the part-time MiF? She says: “The classes combined theory – how things work – and practice – how things work in the market right now.
“Everyone is a working professional. This brings a different dimension to classroom discussions as you exchange on current practice.”
The average level of experience in the classroom was also an advantage, she explains. “As skilled professionals, we benefited from the way we approached problems and the work we produced.”
Lily also wanted to build an international network. “My classmates had different career paths and came from all over the world. I drew knowledge from each of them on a personal and professional level – I also made great friends.”
As well as learning from others, Lily found out more about herself by trying out new skills for size in a “safe place”. “I discovered different cultures and adopted new approaches to interacting with people based on their backgrounds and personalities,” she says.
The final point Kabiller made was to be thankful and “take stock of how far you’ve come”. Lily says: “This reminded me about being grateful for the great opportunity I’ve had at LBS as well as embracing all that’s yet to come.”
So, what’s next? Armed with confidence and an international network, Lily hopes to return to Asia in the near future and is getting set for her next challenge.