- Hi, everyone, and welcome to our Q&A session here at Bayes Business School. We will be discussing the online MSc in global finance. Just to let you know, we will have a quick survey at the end. So if you could answer those questions, that would be really great. So my name is Kaitlyn FitzGerald. I'm one of the student recruitment consultants here at Bayes. And I will be answering the questions to Nektarios, who is a recent graduate from the program.
- Thanks, Kaitlyn, for having me, first of all. And it's very good to be here. And I'm very happy if I can add some value to any prospective students of the Bayes Business School in the MSc in global finance via my experience. So thank you very much for having me.
- Great. So, Nektarios, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
- Sure. So my background is mostly centered in financial institutions. So I started working as an external auditor when I realized that I kind of enjoy more the consulting angle that internal audit had. I am trained as an external auditor with PwC.
And since then, I've held various roles in financial institutions within the second and the third line of defense. For example, I've been a credit officer, internal audit for four markets. For the last couple of years, I've held the position of the original head of credit risk audit in EMEA for HSBC. And actually this is very timely. I am starting my new role on Monday with Standard Chartered as the global head of credit risk audit.
- That's really great. That actually links to a question we have in the inbox from Hugo. He said that he was really looking forward to your session. And he saw your post on LinkedIn about how you just accepted a new role. "How would you say the MSc and finance degree has had an influence on your move from employee to the employer side?"
- It did in kind of direct and indirect ways. First of all, it's always good to show to prospective employers that you can manage your time during a kind of very demanding position and at the same time, completing a very demanding course like the MSc in global finance. So that's very important.
The second is, of course, the brand name of the business school, of BAYES business school, which is quite important as well. And then, of course, there are other quantitative things like, for example, the way you become more comfortable with your technical expertise and knowledge, which the course provides or the way you manage your time, which again is a very valuable lesson for me for the last couple of years.
- Very nice. So what motivated you to study the online MSc in global finance?
- Well, that's a great question. So my background. I'm coming from a family of four academics myself both my father and my brother they are in academia. They're doctors. They've been professors for many years.
As I explained earlier, my background is mostly around accounting and auditing where I hold various professional and academic qualifications. However, since I started working for financial institutions, I really wanted a pure finance qualification for my CV. This is what motivated me.
And I started to start my research back in 2019 pre-COVID about doing something like that. Now I had a couple of criteria. In my mind, I wanted a combination of a reputable business school, flexibility, and a good product, of course, so the coverage of the modules.
It was, if I remember correctly, around October, November 2019 that I discovered the MSc in global finance by Cass back then. The name still was Cass business school online. And it really actually, to be honest, picked most of my if not all of my boxes in that it provided me with the flexibility as it was a two-year masters. The modules were exactly what I wanted to cover in terms of the subjects and industries. And it was fully online. So, yeah, we ticked all the boxes.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: It's a great. So could you please tell us why you chose Bayes specifically? I know like you said when you began it was called Cass. So you kind of got to see both sides of it with the name change to Bayes as well. So maybe you could talk about that a bit too.
- Yes, it was Cass when I started the masters. And as I explained, the brand name is very good in Greece-- I am Greek myself-- partly because of the shipping heritage that we have in Greece. Professor Grammenos has a very reputable course at Cass Business School. So it kind of-- it's quite important for us. Actually, it was one of the reasons that I started researching Cass myself.
And having worked in the shipping finance business in the past, that was quite important for me. So, yes, it was-- definitely Cass was one of the top universities in my list when I started my research. But in general, it's a very reputable business school.
- And did you notice any differences when the name changed to Bayes? Did that change anything about the course for you?
- In terms of the quality of the course, it hasn't changed. And I think I had-- like half of my masters was with Cass and the other half with Bayes. No, I haven't noticed a change in the quality of the product. And actually I've noticed that marketing has done the job quite well to keep the brand where it was in the past. So I think it was OK for us.
- So how has the course impacted you on a personal and a professional level?
- Oh, yeah. Well. OK, so that's a long answer. Let me start with the personal level, and then I will move to the professional bit after. So the course-- and I'm not going to lie-- the course is demanding. And I had to invest a lot of my time in research and in study time.
However, personally it contributed towards me becoming very confident individually. It opened a new world in terms of how to do proper real life research. And mentally I have to be-- I have to say it really helped me during the difficult times of lockdowns in the UK in London. So that's on the personal side. So there are sacrifices that an individual has to make for the course.
Now on the professional level, there were also pros and cons. The course elevated my knowledge of some-- of the banking products where I could make a real difference and challenge the business because of the nature of what I do in internal auditing and risk management. A few months after I started the course, I got promoted to my current role.
And I had to-- it was very demanding the role I had, so I had to balance my study time, my personal life and a very crucial role for the bank, my actual career. So, yes, as you can see, I think if I have to balance everything. It has been a very positive impact on both personal and professional level for me.
- And how did you find it during COVID as well? Was there any differences with that? How was the course response to that and how did you find it?
Wow, that's a very-- I think that's a very key question. I think not at myself, but all the students of the MSc in global finance we were the lucky ones, and I will explain why. The whole setup of the program it is for online students. Everything is done online. It's for full time professionals, executives.
And there were zero change for us. So we started something that it continued with the same way. I know that many universities had to change. Many programs they had to change the way they work during lockdowns. That wasn't the case for us. We started something that continued in the same way.
So the tools were there. Everything were there. The setup was there. So we didn't have any impact during the lockdown. So that was a very, very benefit-- that was very beneficial for all of us. So it didn't disrupt our lives a lot.
- Yeah, I'm sure that was very ideal during the COVID times.
MAN: But, yes, indeed.
- So how did you manage your time on the program, balancing work life, personal life, setting a time to do assessments?
- OK, yes, I will be very honest, Kaitlyn, and tell you that I had to do many sacrifices, and I had to be very disciplined and organized so as to be able to cover the weekly material that was provided to us, stay on top of things at work, find time with my family, and finally spend some time for myself. So the weekends were very key. And I covered most of the material for the week during the weekends.
I had to wake up quite early so as to fit in my gym needs and start studying so as to cover everything during-- everything most of it, let's say 70% to 80% probably during the weekends. Monday to Friday I would do just the course work after I've done all my studying and-- which was after work where I would start around 7 o'clock, 7:38 maybe, stop a little bit for dinner and carry out many times until late at night.
- So we have a question from the audience saying, "Hi, Nektarios. Great event. And thanks for your time. I understand you are a graduate. Will you be attending the graduation ceremony this July and will that be your first time you'll meet your fellow students face to face?"
- I will definitely join the graduation on the 18th of July, yes. It will be the first time for me. I know they've done in many events. But because of my demanding work schedule, I couldn't attend most of it. So, yes, it will be. Although, I have a very good relationship. We chat. We have our own network, let's say.
Yes, I haven't met anyone face to face. And there are many people from many countries. We have friends from the UK-- friends and fellow students from the UK, from Italy, from Asia, from the US. It's a very versatile program. But definitely, yes, I will be there on the 18th of July.
- I'm sure that'll be really great to meet them all in person after speaking to them for the two years online.
- So how do you think this course will help you advance in your career, or maybe has it already helped you advance in your career?
- It has already helped me indeed to become more confident, as I explained earlier, in areas of finance I didn't have any expertise before, to name a few, the insurance industry, real estate. So there are like very specific tailor made industry modules in this course, which are great I have to say. I think those are the last four modules in the course.
The whole program helped me a lot with how I manage my time. I'm more efficient now and more effective sometimes I have to say. And I became more technical in areas I was already aware of, like, asset management or bonds and equity analysis. But now I'm more let's say proficient in those areas as well.
- Yeah, would you say that you found yourself using tools from the program at work and in your everyday life kind of right away when you began?
MAN: Yes, 100%. Yes, that's the case. And especially during [INAUDIBLE] professional and during COVID having-- we were experiencing for the very first time an elevated added risk across the board in many industries. So most of the material that I had from the MSc they came very handy I have to say.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Yeah, that's really great. We also have another question from the audience. "Thanks for taking your time to pass on your experiences. My question to you is, did you have a favorite module or professor during the program?"
MAN: I'm not going to say. I'm not going to say because I really enjoyed most of the-- all of them, all of them. Everybody had different styles. By the way, it's great the fact that you get to meet your professors because there's a live event every week.
Usually, I think it started on Fridays, and then it was Thursday sometimes. I can't remember. I think it was Fridays most of the modules. Everybody was unique. They had their own style as it's in face to face courses as well. My favorite subject I have to say was alternative investments. I really enjoyed this one.
- Yeah, what was your kind of favorite thing about that one?
MAN: Yes, that's a good question. It was something that I wasn't expert in. So that was new for me. He challenged us in many, many ways. And there were small things. We had like more things that we had to do, coursework that we had to do irrespective of the final assignment. Yeah, I really enjoyed that. It was very good.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Very nice. And as well, you said that you attended the live sessions. How were those? How did they run?
- Those were very smooth. So I think I didn't lose not even one in those two years live. I think I lost one towards the end because I had a meeting I couldn't avoid. It was one hour lunchtime on every Friday. They were very smooth. It was nice to see the professors face to face, ask your questions, and interact with fellow students as well.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Very nice. So what skill set would you say is required to be successful on the course?
- OK, I think I've already touched on this. So you need to be disciplined 100% if you have a full time job, right? If you have a full time job, it's important to be disciplined, do your coursework. You need some awareness of financial products but not a lot. I think the professors are quite good in explaining the things.
And there is a course on fundamentals of finance, which is the first course together with bond and equity analysis, which are very good. And they will give you the background that you need to proceed to the more technical courses. And as always, you need to have eagerness to learn.
- So I know that you have access to 1 to 1 sessions with lectures. Did you utilize those to kind of improve your skills and improve your performance on the course at any point?
MAN: I did. I did most of them I have to say because I was out of academia for many, many years. So I came back. I had to have, let's say, some time to readjust. And, of course, many things changed since 2001 when I did my first masters. So I had to readjust.
Yes, the tools helped me a lot. And I have to say they were-- there are many, many, many tools that students can use. I will name a few, the ones that you mentioned, Kaitlyn. And, of course, there are interview tips, CV tips. I used all those tools. They are amazing. And I would recommend them to all students irrespective of whether they are with MSc global finance or not.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Yeah, I'm sure it's very helpful having those tools, like you said, when you've been out of academia for a while and being online. It's great to hear that you were able to utilize those so well. We have another question from the audience. "You talk about diverse group of fellow students in your cohorts. Can you elaborate on how you interacted and collaborated while online with your peers?"
- You can interact with WhatsApp, with other tools. So it has been-- that we were arranging, as I told you, for me because we had lockdowns and we had-- most of us we had to balance our lives with COVID. It was very complex for us to get together.
But it was so-- as well, it was very, very easy I have to say because you could just WhatsApp some people that are in London or they're coming in London or they are based elsewhere. I don't know. Maybe they are in Rome.
We had people from Rome. We had people from Germany. We had people from Switzerland, many different locations. So you get together many times via many, many tools. Actually, the platform helps you as well where you introduce yourself in every time you are starting a new model. You interact online with the tools that the platform provides.
And, of course, we're living in a world of social-- you have so many, many other tools to interact with.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Yeah, definitely. And well on top of that, you got to interact with students globally and from different backgrounds. Did you find yourself learning anything interesting from them or anything about their jobs that you thought you might be able to apply to theirs or any tips that you gave anybody else on the course?
MAN: Many, many things, Kaitlyn. So you get accustomed to, first of all, different cultures, different working styles, and different-- definitely there were people more advanced in academia than myself because I've been out for many years. So they were much, much younger people than I am in the course.
So, yes, I learned a lot of stuff, different viewpoints as well, which-- it's really-- that's the big benefit of doing a course like that where you have people, again as I told you, from Asia, from-- I think they were someone from Australia as well. It's amazing, right? So so many different time zones, so many different cultures. So you get to learn a lot of stuff, whether you want to be-- to interact with them or not.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Yeah, definitely. I'm sure that made it very interesting as well.
- Yes, one of the big benefits, I think, of this MSc.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: That's really great. So what would you say was the biggest challenge while doing the course? And on the other hand, what do you think your biggest success was?
MAN: OK. Yeah, the biggest challenge was to try and balance personal time, work time, and also find time to study. I think I explained it earlier as well. That was the challenge. And as I told you, coming back to academia I had to readjust.
It took the first couple of modules to start saying, OK, this is how you do the reference thing now or this is how I have to do this and that. So I had to adjust my writing style as well a lot. So, yes, it's been quite challenging. And definitely the time factor has been crucial for me.
My biggest success I was-- after the couple of other modules, that was actually a bet with my own self. I wanted a distinction overall. And I managed to do this. And out of the 12 modules, I think nine of them I had-- I finalized with distinction.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: That's really awesome. You also felt really great after that, especially with all the effort you were putting in being away from academia for a bit of time. It's definitely very impressive.
MAN: Very challenging as well, Kaitlyn.
- So what networking opportunities were available to you as an online student, maybe resources that you found solely for online or was there any crossover with things that were available for on campus that were also available for the online students?
- OK, I think we touched a bit on that but let me come back to it a bit. First of all, it all depends on how much someone wants to get involved in networking because the opportunities are there. There are plenty of groups outside of the cohort to network. For example, I will name a few outside of my cohort.
So I've always been very eager with shipping finance. So you can get involved in the shipping finance group from Professor Grammenos. And you can get also all their emails, all the research that they're doing.
I did the same for corporate finance. So Sonia has amazing newsletters and stuff. So it's very good. So I would recommend it to everyone.
I was also in the M&A group within Bayes. And there were some webinars outside-- that's outside, completely outside the MSc in global finance I have to say. That's completely Bayes business school things. So there are many, many, many, many, many stuff you can get information.
I remember I did a two-day M&A workshop. It was amazing. It was a real time M&A example where we had to get involved, do stuff, like, working teams. It was great. It's just one of the few, Kaitlyn.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Yeah, that's really great. Have you gotten involved in any of the alumni stuff as well?
MAN: Not yet but I will.
- So can you name one aspect of the course that has impressed you?
- I'd say the quality of professors is the first thing that really impressed me. They're very, very reputable people. They've done a lot of research. And I've been really, really impressed with the material that they provided to us. So the quality of material was amazing.
The availability of professors. And I have to mention the assistant professors as well. They weren't always there because some professors they chose to run the course completely on their own. But when they were there, it was-- I have to say they were also amazing. They were available when we needed them.
Sometimes I would email someone at 11:30 at night. And I would get a response like after five or 10 minutes. It was amazing.
- Yeah, that's a really impressive response, especially at night. It must be really great to have such quick responses and access everything so easily considering that it's online.
- Yep, yep, agreed, agreed. It's very important. And also, it wasn't always with everyone but most of the times the response time times were amazing. I was impressed I have to say.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Mhm. And how did you find the level of interaction with being online? Outside of those live sessions, how was it from week to week interacting with the other students and the lecturers?
- So we were sharing with most of my fellow students. We would share ideas. I think I have to say that I've been lucky. My cohort has been very interactive and involved. We would share things outside of the masters, like, what was going on in the finance world.
Many people were sharing best practices on how they are doing their research. I feel actually blessed that my cohort was so involved, and I got to know so many great people.
- Yeah, that must have been really helpful as well. We have two questions from the audience. The first is, "Congrats on your distinction. Did you notice any changes on your soft skills, for example, writing, presenting, organizing thoughts, and did that happen from the beginning or along the way?"
- Writing definitely and organizing thoughts 100%. And how you present things because we had to do-- and that's a very good question because we had to do a lot of presentations as part of assignments or workshops or anything else. It really helps to be able to organize your thoughts and present your thoughts afterwards.
So there were many, many assignments where you just had to do a PowerPoint presentation, for example. And you had to become let's say the asset manager who had to present to an investor or some examples like that. So, yeah, you need-- so it really-- I really saw a difference in that. And also as I mentioned, I think, earlier the way that I'm doing research has changed tremendously because of this course.
- Did you find those skills kind of improving more and more as time went on on the course?
- Yes. And also I saw-- this improvement actually came to my real life and impacted also my professional life as well.
KAITLYN FITZGERALD: Very nice. So our next question is, "Great session, Nektarios. Is there anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now studying in this postgraduate degree?"
- I think no I have to say. It would be cheating if I said, oh, yes, my referencing skills would have been greater in the first couple of modules. Yes, they could have, but they taught me also a valuable lesson on how to do proper referencing, how to do proper research. It's very, very important. And actually I enjoyed it to be honest.
It was harsh. But you know what? I remember in each and every module the timing that my assignment was done and when I was ready to send it out to the-- to submit it to the professors, so each and everyone.
I remember when I was in full lockdown in the second one. I remember that the third assignment I was in compulsory lockdown in Greece in Athens for seven days, if I remember correctly. And I had to do my assignments in five days.
For me, that was actually a blessing because I had something to do. For my wife, it wasn't very pleasant. But, yes, for each and everyone, I remember exactly where I were, what I've done. So I wouldn't change a thing.
- Yeah, I'm sure it was great to have something to focus on during those lockdowns as well.
MAN: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I think I went through the whole like 98% of the course. Yeah, we were in lockdown either lighter lockdowns or more strict lockdowns.
- Yeah. So could you share any tips under best practices for the prospective students?
- Yes, I would say first of all organize your study time appropriately, take advantage of the weekends or those that-- we had many people with big families as well and very senior jobs, and they had to do the same thing.
They had to do-- they have to organize their study time, take advantage of the weekends, as I mentioned. Focus on the weekly webinars. They're are very, very important, super important. And the relevant notes from the professors during those weekly webinars.
What I try to do, Kaitlyn, is always stay on top of things. So I tried to stay on top on the weekly basis. I never lost let's say like two or three weeks to do a comeback. So I was trying to stay on top of things.
So maybe that's another tip for people if it is possible for them to do it, of course, because the course is very flexible. So it gives you this flexibility. If you have a very tough week, for example, you can definitely study more the other week and make up for it.
- Yeah, definitely those are some really good tips. Managing your time is definitely an important thing while studying.
- So that brings us to the end of our session. If anyone wants to ask any last minute questions for Nektarios, you can pop those in the inbox. And we'll add to those now. But if not, please feel free to reach out to your course advisor. We'll be happy to help you through the process and ask any-- answer any questions that you might have.
As you can see, we are offering to receive funding towards your We'll be sending out an email next week with some more detail about this. But essentially, if you can submit your application by the 25th of July, then you will have the opportunity to receive some funding towards the course.
And, again, you can reach out to us to discuss that in more detail if you'd like. Thank you, Nektarios, for answering those questions and taking some time out of your day. And I hope you all have a lovely rest of the day and take care.
MAN: Thanks, Kaitlyn. Thank you everyone for having me.