Why an MIF programme ?
After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, accounting license and CFA charter, I have decided to take a Masters in Finance programme as this would be a good way to complete my list of academic credentials. I chose MIF based on my own research and feedback from alumni, and it has turned out to be a very good decision so far. With the MIF, I was able to sharpen my existing knowledge in finance by exchanging ideas with professors and guest speakers who are experts in their field, as well as with classmates coming from diverse backgrounds. They all gave a fresh perspective on the topics that I’ve already seen and heard, but was not able to appreciate to the fullest until I took the MIF programme. Also, unlike other masters programmes, the MIF really holds up to its promise of combining theory and practice, as the courses are academically rigorous but with a constant emphasis on professional application. For instance, I knew how to do business combination accounting before, but with the MIF I was able to realise its key implications for valuation and equity research. I had a working knowledge of investment instruments, but the MIF enabled me to internalise the opportunities and challenges based on broad academic research and empirical observations. I’ve heard about private equity, but never really appreciated how it is in practice until I listened to the MIF professors and guest speakers. I believe that the MIF’s professional focus will be greatly appreciated by experienced professionals like myself, as well as career-switchers and those early in their careers. Lastly, as I aim to stay in Europe, I believe that the MIF enhances my employability given that it is an excellent finance master’s programme from a very reputable university in the E.U., with a strong alumni network which extends even outside the Netherlands. In fact, even as early as the first block of classes and all throughout the programme, I felt that there were so many opportunities presented to us to enhance our career prospects, such as through company visits and presentations, professional gatherings, job postings, alumni mentoring and meeting with alumni.
The ABS is a very reputable business school in the Netherlands and the EU, and is part of the University of Amsterdam which is highly regarded internationally and ranked the best in the Netherlands and among the top universities in the world.
The ABS, and in particular the MIF team, is also very well-managed, efficient, and really looks after the needs of the students. The classes are small so there is no need to compete for resources, course spaces or help from professors and the administrative team. This makes academic life more comfortable especially for part-time students who have limited time.
What do you think of Amsterdam?
As a former international graduate and employee of a Dutch bank, I find that I always end up coming back to Amsterdam, whether for trainings or work assignments and now with academics, and I have greatly enjoyed all of those times. Life in Amsterdam is comfortable and simple, but has much to offer for both the outgoing and more homebody types. I also personally appreciate the Dutch values of efficiency, friendliness and practicality which are reflected in pleasant personal or commercial interactions in day-to-day life. Social life is also not an issue here, as there are so many friends to be made within the local and expat community.
For international students, it is good to know that English is widely-spoken in Amsterdam, which makes daily living easier and also creates better opportunities for local employment as compared to other European countries. Moreover, I personally find that many large Dutch companies and foreign companies with offices in the country are open to hiring international students, especially those coming from good schools like the ABS. The MIF Career Services and/or MIF alumni has connections with many of them. For those interested in staying in the country longer, I also find that residence and work permit requirements are more manageable here versus other EU countries.
What did you think of the courses ?
The courses combine both academic rigor and professional relevance. Aside from the insights from the professors who are experts in their field, there are also many guest speakers who complement the lectures and provide different perspectives. Application is always emphasized. With the MIF programme, I was able to dig much deeper and strengthen my grasp of finance theories and phenomena.
The courses are also well-designed to provide students with a broad background necessary for a career in finance, but also goes beyond the basics to enable students to appreciate the intricacies and key issues in their field of interest. The students also have the opportunity to explore in depth a particular topic of interest through the MIF master’s thesis, with the guidance of a supervisor who is either a MIF professor, UvA professor or practitioner who bring in insights and perspective to guide the students in executing their thesis.
What did you think of your fellow students?
It’s a mix of people from very diverse backgrounds – geographic, cultural and professional – making the class interactions very interesting and exciting. People are very open in expressing their views; there is no “groupthink” which helped to enrich the discussions and also challenged my own thinking.
As the group is very small, it is hard not to be friends with everyone. Breaks in between classes are often not enough to have nice chats with people and there are often drinks and meet-ups outside of classes. And the educational trip to South Africa was even more enjoyable with such great company to share the experience with.
What did you think of professors/staff?
The professors are very knowledgeable and bring in-depth expertise from the academic and/or professional world. They facilitate very lively and intellectually stimulating discussions and challenges the students to think critically. The deliverables (cases, assignments, presentations) and examinations are fair, and are carefully designed to enhance to whole learning process. The professors are also very enthusiastic to entertain questions and discuss with students who wish to learn more about particular topics.
The MIF staff is very efficient, professional and always ready to support the students. This contributes to making the whole academic experience very enjoyable.
Did the MIF meet up with your expectations (so far)?
Absolutely. There is always a risk in entering a master’s programme based on own research and information provided as you will never know how it really is until you have already started the course. With the MIF, my expectations were met and even exceeded. The quality of the courses, the professors, staff and class, seminars and career-related activities, all contributed to making the masters programme a very valuable experience.
Do you think the MIF – alumni network is a valuable asset?
Yes. Many alumni contribute back to the programme by serving as guest speakers and attending professional gatherings. Aside from the interactions during these events, they also help students with career prospects by contacting the MIF Career Services officer for opportunities in their companies. Also, under the MIF Mentoring Programme, I was partnered with a mentor with a similar background to mine and who was more than willing to give career advice and even connect me with people who can help with my career.
What are your career goals post MIF?
With a first baby on the way, I will be staying at home for a while but will nonetheless try to do freelance finance or part-time work during that time. I like to keep myself busy so I view this as an excellent time to explore commercial opportunities, even from home with a more flexible schedule! Afterwards, I intend to relaunch my career in a financial institution, most probably in Commercial Banking where my core expertise lies, or in related finance fields.