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After six years working in banking, Daniel Rojas Pineda (MiFFT2019) left Bogotá to expand his knowledge of finance. Having returned to Colombia, he reflects on how our Masters in Finance programme helped him harness his passion for impact investing and the energy sector.
Growing up in Bogotá, I’ve always been aware of the extreme social contrasts that exist in our society. Seeing the reality of Colombia’s problems, with the ever-increasing divide between rich and poor, made me reflect on my own privileges; I decided I wanted to pursue a career where I could make a difference.
I didn’t always want to work in finance – while I’ve always been interested in socio-economics, I also love numbers, so thought working as an economist would be a good way to combine the two. I studied economics at the University of Los Andes and at the end of my undergraduate degree, gravitated towards the financial side of things. I then decided to explore this further, returning to the University of Los Andes two years later to study project finance.
Throughout my career, I’ve changed roles to try new things and find what I’m passionate about. My first role was as an Investment Banking Analyst at a boutique investment bank called Metrix Finanzas. I then went on to work as an Investment Analyst at Corficolombiana, a Financial Advisor at Lhoist and a Senior Financial Analyst at Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional, before landing my Associate role at CFC-SK Capital, where I stayed until joining LBS. My roles have been varied but have all been rooted in infrastructure. This has been a big passion of mine; working on infrastructure and energy projects directly impacts communities and I found it really fulfilling.
LBS was the only business school I applied to because it had everything I was looking for. Having made the decision to study abroad, I knew I needed an experience I wouldn’t find at home. I was looking for a multicultural environment, somewhere with strong finance credentials and a global and diverse city. After a little online research and a look at the business school rankings, I saw that LBS ticked all the boxes. I also spoke to a member of the LBS alumni community, Jorge Buitrago (MBA2013), who I worked with at Corficolombiana in Bogotá. He said that LBS would be the perfect place for me.
I wanted to improve my knowledge of finance as a whole, which is why I chose the MiF. Before joining the programme in 2018, I was in a good place in my career – I felt confident in my knowledge of corporate finance and was in the process of finishing my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification. But I wanted to strengthen my understanding of finance as a whole. The MiF included subjects like impact investing and distressed investing – both of which aren’t often taught in Colombia. For me, this was confirmation that the programme would deliver the broad range of financial knowledge I was looking for.
Before coming to LBS I’d always lived in Colombia, so it was a shock to suddenly be surrounded by such a diverse group of people. My classmates come from around the world – from the Middle East and India to Germany and Brazil – and despite us all working in finance, everyone has their own unique backgrounds. This made for stimulating debates and eye-opening conversations. The biggest thing I took away is a new mindset: being around so many different personalities helped me better understand other people’s perspectives.
Studying in a new country helped develop my soft skills and was a great opportunity to learn how to get my point across without speaking Spanish. This has also strengthened my presenting ability, which has proven extremely useful in my current role, where I often present investment committee material to my superiors and co-workers. This is certainly a skill that will help me in my future career as well.
In London, there are limitless opportunities to build your professional experience. I secured an internship at PineBridge Investments, a private, global asset manager focused on active, high conviction investing. Working for a global organisation in the city gave me a new sense of confidence; the way they operated was similar to many Colombian organisations I’d worked for, which made me realise that for much of my career I’d been working at a global level.
Moving to London was like finding another home in a different country. I was lucky enough to live in Marylebone, next to campus, where there’s a real sense of community and the feeling of a small town within a big city. Every Sunday, I’d go to the local farmers’ market to pick up home-made bread and home-brewed beer. I always planned to return to Colombia to continue my career in Bogotá, but if I hadn’t, London would definitely have been somewhere I would have loved to stay.
The Career Centre at LBS was integral in helping me land my current role as Business Development Associate at Inkia Energy in Bogotá. I knew I wanted to combine my interest in impact investing with my experience in the energy and finance sectors, and the interview advice shared by the Career Centre helped me convey this in a really meaningful way to Inkia. I also learnt how to improve my LinkedIn profile, which actually led to Inkia Energy reaching out to me via LinkedIn and offering me an interview. It goes to show that small improvements can make a big difference.
After landing my first post-master's job at Inkia Energy and following my current career path in Energy, I accepted a new job as Project Finance Director for LatAm at Greenwood Energy (part of Libra Group - an international business group), 18 months after graduating from the MiF. Here, I saw how the skills developed in my year at LBS helped me achieve the next step in my career. I carried the Career Centre's advice with me throughout the interview process and the LBS trademark was, without doubt, a booster to my profile.