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Having gained a solid background with seven years of experience working in the financial industry, Rajbir Turna, MiFFT2020, knew he wanted to change direction and fast-track his career as quickly as possible. This decision led him to study the Masters in Finance programme at London Business School, which helped transform his career in just 10 short months.
I started my career in audit at PWC, where I qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, before moving to M&A advisory initially at a boutique and then as an M&A Manager at BDO UK in London. I had about seven years of experience before applying for the MiF, and there were a couple of reasons I applied. First, I’d always had a dream of studying at London Business School. Second, I was already in London and it felt like a good time to apply, considering where I was in my career. I put a lot of thought into whether I should do the MiF or the MBA programme, but given the full–time MiF was more focussed on the finance industry, plus I could finish it in 10 months, I decided to choose the MiF.
I’d always wanted to study at London Business School because of its excellent global reputation, broad diversity of students, and the unique learning experience it offers. I wanted to upskill my expertise and broaden my network and it seemed like the right place to do that. I also wanted to study the MiF so I could transition from sell-side advisory into buy-side. I’d been an advisor for the past four years, helping clients to sell/buy businesses or raise funding, so I wanted to switch over to the other side and make acquisitions and investments globally.
Since completing the programme I’ve managed to achieve that, and I’m currently working as a Senior Specialist at IHS Towers. It’s one of the companies I came across as a case study during the Private Equity elective I took during the programme. I was astonished by its business model, growth trajectory, and the infrastructure space it specialises in; an understanding that helped me make the transition to get my current job.
My previous role involved advising predominantly UK clients on selling their companies to overseas buyers. Since graduating from LBS, my role has become more global. For example, I have worked on acquisitions and investments across Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia with valuations ranging between US$100m and over US$1bn.
The first few months of the programme are very intense with studies, getting to know everyone and working on job applications. However, the second half for me was slightly more relaxed, and I utilised some of my time for further networking, competitions through the student clubs, part-time internships, and events.
LBS alumni are always happy to chat or meet in person, which I think is invaluable. The alumni network is so strong that you can send an email or connect on LinkedIn, and you’ll get a really good response. My current boss is an alumnus of the School and he also studied the MiF, this helped me to connect with him better and have a great chat when we met.
I found the School’s Career Centre very helpful and I tried to make the most out of everything they offered. I attended many events organised by the Career Centre, including the CV and cover letter writing events, and used the interview prep materials they shared. I was also a Career Rep for my cohort, which involved being a bridge between the students and the Career Centre and attending meetings in which I acted as the voice of my fellow students, supporting them to raise any issues they had. This allowed me to develop relationships with my peers as well as staff in the Career Centre.
I’ve found a lot of the modules and electives I studied during the programme really useful in my current role. First of all, the Corporate Finance elective helped me to further strengthen my technical skills and knowledge. During the Advanced Corporate Finance elective, we also looked at the impact of foreign exchange and inflation on long-term projects, and I now use that knowledge regularly. The Private Equity & Venture Capital elective along with Investments and Financing the Entrepreneurial Business electives helped me to develop an investor mindset.
During my time at the School I also took part in the Global Oxford Private Equity Modelling Challenge which we won. This involved competing with teams from other leading business schools in the world on a Private Equity case. For this, I had the privilege to lead and put together a strong team which was then selected to represent the School in this competition. We all worked tremendously hard and around the clock throughout on this case. Due to the pandemic, unfortunately, we couldn’t present in person in the finals, but our submission was chosen as the winner, which was a memorable outcome for all of us.
I was also a joint leader of the London Private Equity Trek 2020. The trek is one of the most competitive PE treks at the School. I’d done a lot of research before I started the programme and it was one of the activities I really wanted to get involved with. So I applied to take part and luckily my interview was successful, and I was selected as a co-leader. For the first time at the School, we decided to do two treks, to allow more students to attend. Previously, only around 10 students had been able to attend, but we were able to offer double the number of places. My co-leader and I received over 150 applications and we had to narrow it down, which wasn’t easy, especially as a lot of our friends applied. But to be fair to all, we developed a standardised metric and evaluated each applicant against the set criteria. Overall, the treks went great and provided invaluable insights, and we managed to visit many well-known names, including KKR, CPPIB, and Silver Lake, only a few to mention. We got to do the first one in person and the second one was delivered virtually due to the pandemic.
Being a co-leader of the Private Equity Trek meant I was also an executive committee member of the Private Equity Club, and it was really helpful to network with the other committee members. I’m still good friends with a lot of them. I also attended several events held by the Private Equity Club. In the first half of the programme they held a search fund event, which is quite a new concept, and I really enjoyed it; so much so, that I ended up doing an internship at a search fund off the back of it. My work at the fund was linked to the buy-side, which was the trajectory I wanted to follow after the programme. The career centre resources also helped me find another opportunity at a private equity firm that I completed over the summer of 2020.
I received the MiF Alumni Scholarship, and that was really helpful in so many aspects. Financially, it meant I didn’t have to take out a loan or find a part-time job, meaning I could fully immersive myself and focus on the programme itself and the wider extra-curricular activities to make the most of my time at the School. It was also really good to meet other scholars that had received different scholarships; the School holds an event for the scholars to get together.
My advice for anyone considering the MiF programme is that it’s quite an investment, in terms of finances and time, but that it is very rewarding. Do a lot of research before you come here and have a good plan of what you want to achieve as there’s not much time and it can be quite a steep learning curve, but if you prepare in advance then you’ll know exactly what you want to get out of it. I’d also say to try and get involved in as many activities as possible.
My thoughts on the next steps in my career are evolving everyday, but going forward I’d like to stay on the buy-side, and I’d like to keep my career as global as possible. I’d also like to help entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and help them achieve what they want to achieve.
There were quite a few aspects of the programme that I found really valuable. At this stage of my career, it’s less about the technical skills and more about the network that I have, from peers to alumni. So attending events such as coffee chats and being able to meet alumni and build those relationships was great. The key thing is that when you start doing electives, you meet students from the other programmes. For example, I studied the Turnaround elective with students in the MBA, Executive MBA and Sloan programmes. So you’re working in a classroom with CEOs and CFOs and there is a lot of knowledge sharing, which I found so helpful.
I also found it beneficial to learn through case studies and get involved in extracurricular activities, as well as attend the guest speaker event series. Some of the memorable events I attended included the visit of Stephen A Schwarzman, the Co-Founder of Blackstone, who shared his experiences of working in an investment bank to founding his own private equity firm, which is now one of the largest private equity firms in the world, and the struggles he faced in the early days. It was amazing to listen to one of the pioneers in the industry, and fascinating to hear his story directly from him. That’s one of the best things about London Business School; being able to gain knowledge first-hand from people in the industry.
Learn more about our Masters in Finance programme.