“It’s important that institutions like LBS advocate for women in finance because the gender split is not equal”
“The world needs more acceptance,” according to Saphina Zhuge, a Masters in Financial Analysis (MFA) alumna now working as an HSBC analyst in London. “We are tolerant but we need to step beyond that and embrace diversity.”
After completing her bachelor in international business at Warwick Business School in 2015, Saphina intended to continue her international experience. “I wanted to consolidate my knowledge in finance and to develop my career in an international environment – so I came to London.”
Prior to London Business School (LBS), Saphina completed two internships – a corporate role with Rothschild Asset Management and an analyst position with La Française Asset Management – in her home city, Paris. She says: “Paris is beautiful, but it doesn’t rival the finance scene or the cosmopolitan nature of London.”
Saphina, who graduated in 2017, received LBS’s Masters in Financial Analysis Merit Scholarship for Women. As well as easing financial pressure, the scholarship became a motivational driving force.
“It pushed me forward. I wanted to do well, I wanted to give back. It’s important that institutions like LBS advocate for women in finance because the gender split is not equal. Education is key. Pushing for women in higher education and helping to secure a future generation of strong female leaders who can then become role models is critical.”
Saphina decided to push forward by becoming a student ambassador, playing an active role in attracting talented MFA applicants to the School. She also took on extra responsibilities, such as co-leading an early career event exploring gender inequality in the workplace.
On the programme, Saphina honed the art of effective communication, at every level. “As a junior, it’s often difficult to challenge seniors. I discovered how to be more direct, which helps to build authentic relationships. Now, I have the confidence to say when I’m not sure about something. It’s beneficial at work and makes the learning curve much faster,” she says.
Saphina benefited from cross-programme study groups, where she learned alongside more experienced professionals from the Masters in Finance (MiF) and MBA programmes. She also developed relationships with two mentors: a MiF student 10 years her senior, and an LBS alumnus. The duo guided her through academic and professional life.
“I met my MiF mentor in the library and we discussed life at LBS. In fact, we took two courses at the same time. It was interesting to see his perspective because of his extensive experience. My other mentor helped me with my job search and to prepare for interviews.” Saphina is still connected to both.
Ownership and responsibility are lessons Saphina applies to her work today. She often took on leadership roles during study group work and relished seeing the group’s ideas enriched by fresh perspectives. “I enjoyed coordinating diverse teams – not just the mix of nationalities but also background diversity.
“Today, I give the best of myself in all my work. However small the task, I’m confident that I can be held responsible.”