Pippa Johnson

  • Degree Programme: Masters in Finance Full-time
  • Global Nationality: British
  • Profile Job Pre-programme: Head of Group Tax, Network Rail
  • Profile Job Post-programme: Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, The Walt Disney Company

“The course itself and the wealth of global and professional diversity in the alumni community means that there are lifelong opportunities in terms of professional outcomes and learning”

The main driver for Pippa Johnson MiFFT2014 taking the Masters in Finance (MiF) at London Business School (LBS) was to broaden her future career options. Having worked in tax since university, she enjoyed some incredibly interesting roles – particularly with Network Rail, where Pippa worked on fascinating UK-based projects such as the Kings Cross and Thameslink rail developments.

But she wanted to widen her industry scope. “I didn’t want to commit to that track [tax] for the remainder of my career without looking at finance roles more widely. I decided to stick with a finance-focused programme; it made perfect sense to take the MiF as it’s London-based and ranked number one globally,” she says.

Decision made, Pippa says that the learning curve in her first term on the programme was the steepest she’s ever known. “I wasn’t experienced in areas of finance outside of tax, so the transition was hard work – the programme was a mix of completely inspiring and quite terrifying.”

Pippa adds: “My class was the densest population of astonishingly able people I’ve ever come across. The raw intellect was just fantastic, but it was wonderful to be given a really robust academic challenge. The feeling when I’d learnt something totally new was unbelievable, especially as there were times initially when I thought the amount I needed to learn from scratch was insurmountable.”

Learning with classmates from other functional and technical areas within finance made the MiF both more practical and more accessible. And while absorbing all this theory – Pippa found behavioural finance and macroeconomics particularly fascinating – she worked alongside classmates who could tell her how to apply it.

“Conceptual material is much more approachable when you engage with someone who has already applied it in a real-world scenario. Faculty would often call on people with relevant experience to support case study work – it was a great way to build an awareness of different working practices.”

Pippa believes that changing direction mid-career is a longer-term game. “You know more about what you are looking for, and it can be hard to move away from your previous expertise, but you are also better equipped to see the stepping stones between where you are and where you are aiming for,” she says.

“You learn as you go, so it’s not just about the first job after your degree. Keeping that long-term aim in mind, it’s about ongoing learning, the people you meet, the network you gain and what those connections and skills mean in terms of future opportunities.”

For her own career path, Pippa sees MiF as a valuable long-term investment. “The takeaways are different for each participant, and can manifest immediately or several years later. Either way, the course itself and the wealth of global and professional diversity in the alumni community means that there are lifelong opportunities in terms of professional outcomes and learning.

“My first role out of LBS was in tax – another fantastic learning curve – but MiF has helped me onto a path that involves getting the wider industry experience I was looking for when I started, and I have no doubt that it will benefit me in future,” she says. “Taking the time to know your classmates and reaching out to people with the aim of building a mutually beneficial network will help reap those dividends.”

Pippa is a regular speaker on MiF panel events at LBS, and encourages new students to make sure they get the most out of the programme from day one. “It passes quickly, and in my experience is hard work, but it’s an incredible journey – so jump in with both feet and enjoy it!”