“MiFs from different markets bring their knowledge and their networks. Now, if I want to do a transaction in Singapore, I can just call one of my classmates.”
Long-term planning is something Manan Rathod excels at. Immediately prior to taking the Masters in Finance (MiF) at London Business School (LBS), as a senior analyst at RBC, he carefully set out to gain the experience he knew he’d need for a successful application: a large amount of responsibility, managing a team and working with top management.
He visited several top business schools before deciding where to study. “My number one reason for choosing LBS was the network. The US business schools are very US-centric: you build links mostly within the American investment community. Hong Kong and Singapore based universities are great for networks with Asian companies. But LBS gives you unique access to entrepreneurs, fund managers and industry contacts in the UK, US and the Middle East as well as Asia.”
He says his MiF class comprised four types of people. First, those sponsored by companies to gain specialist skills: “Senior guys, with experience that they’ll share. They become long-term friends in different geographies.” Second, finance professionals from different geographies looking to work in London. “MiFs from different markets bring their knowledge and their networks. Before LBS, I would have struggled to find an international network of personal contacts in different sectors. Now, after LBS, if I want to do a transaction in Singapore I can just call one of my classmates.”
The third kind of MiF is someone who wants to advance their career. “In large banks, you reach a point in your career where you’re competing with another colleague in your firm for a partner-level job. At that point the only thing that distinguishes you is the degree you have. And at that point people say, ‘Let’s get the guy from LBS.’”
Then there were people like Manan, looking to change career trajectory. “I wanted to make a shift out of a markets role in banking to a corporate finance role in private equity / venture capital. My knowledge base was quite strong and I wanted to stay within the financial sector, not make a massive career shift.” He is already thinking of the next steps in his career. “Now it's about winning the battles in order to ultimately win the war."
Manan worked through his time at LBS, securing an internship role three weeks after joining the programme with a fund called Eisvogel, run by two LBS MBA alumni who had advertised on LBS portal. “What’s underpriced about the MiF is the first impression of being a finance expert. The first time people look at you, they think, 'This guy knows his finance.’ Some investors only recruit employees from LBS. To get into a top private equity firm you need that business-school edge: the extra experience, network and ability to win business.”
Manan’s current manager is also a MiF from LBS. They met at a networking session and Manan did some work for him till he invited Manan to come on board. “Would I have met him if I wasn’t at LBS? No. He wasn’t recruiting.” Right now it’s Manan who’s recruiting – and he’s only advertising at LBS. “There’s the guarantee of good talent. Being in a boutique investment house, I don’t have to spend time and money on a massive HR function. If I’m going to read through 100 CVs they'd better be good.”
The academic and practical curriculum on the MiF was outstanding, says Manan. “It opened my mind to many more avenues of finance. I learned about search funds and about distressed investing [taking companies out of bankruptcy and turning them around], one of the best modules at LBS. The guy who teaches it is from Oaktree Capital, one of the best distressed-investing funds in the world. At LBS you don’t just have the professor teaching in the class, you also have industry experts coming to give you their thoughts and experience.”
After four years of working life, studying full-time was refreshing. “Taking time out from your job and going back to the basics can really change you.” LBS’s rich variety of clubs offered further opportunities for growth. “You develop cultural awareness through the clubs, seeing people’s different backgrounds and career paths. That makes you a better person. When one rises to be a financial professional, a certain level of ego generally develops with the territory. When I came to LBS I was so humbled: people in my class were so brilliant, so smart, and there was so much more to different career paths than I thought I knew.”