Q&A: Put your questions to a banker turned MBA student

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Tully Helmer started an MBA at London Business School in 2006. Here, he answers our questions, and he'll answer yours if you ask nicely...

Can you provide a brief history of your career?

I've only worked at one bank - Standard Bank, a South African firm. I worked in their international investment banking division in London after starting as a graduate in 2001 and going through a two-year rotation programme across their divisions. I settled in M&A and spent around three and a half years covering the metals and mining industries.

What made you decide to study an MBA?

Timing played a big part. It's something I've always wanted to do and I knew that if I didn't do it now I was never going to. I'd also reached a stage of my career at which I was interested in other areas of finance and I wanted to use the MBA to help make a transition to principal finance or private equity. Additionally, I also wanted the knowledge that comes from actually studying finance, accounting and strategy, the opportunity to network, and the ability to step back and take stock of my career.

What do you plan to do when the MBA finishes?

I'll graduate this summer and following an internship last summer I already have a job offer to work in the Hong Kong-based equity capital markets business of a major European bank.

Why Hong Kong?

There are fantastic opportunities in Asia - the Chinese growth story, in particular, has a massive appeal. A lot of the mining work I did involved emerging markets, and I really enjoyed it. They are very dynamic, and there's a feeling that you're doing something that hasn't been done before - it's a world away from doing a deal in London.

What are your feelings about the state of the MBA hiring market?

My group has had a very successful summer - I can't think of anyone who didn't get the job they wanted following an internship. The bigger concern is for people who are graduating in 2009 and applying for summer roles at the moment. However, it's worth bearing in mind that in 2006 65% of the LBS MBA class went into banking and consulting and in the difficult year of 2001 that only fell to 55%. It's not as if banks and consulting firms will stop hiring MBAs - the cost benefit ratio is too compelling.

Want to ask Tully a question? Add a comment to the box below and he will be available to answer you between 17 December and 21 December.

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