I left a great job in finance to start my career all over again. Here’s why

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By 2017 Gianluca Errico’s banking career was going strong. He had been working for HypoVereinsbank, one of Germany’s largest banks, for seven years and was an employee in the senior risk management department, specialising in risk management for hedge-fund clients. “I was the youngest member of my team but also one of the top performing,” he says.

But Errico didn’t want to rest on his laurels. “I talked to my boss and asked, ‘what can I do to grow my career?’. But my manager said he’d prefer that I stayed in my current role because I was doing such a good job.”

Errico decided to take his career advancement into his own hands and began researching MBA programmes. “I looked at part-time ones, but soon realised that I wanted to really apply myself full-time at a top university, so I could move into a better position after I graduated,” he explains. “In the finance sector these days, you increasingly need a tier-one business school on your CV to stand out from the competition.”

After thoroughly reviewing the merits of several programmes, Errico made his choice: the full-time ESSEC Global MBA.

“I was impressed by the ESSEC alumni I spoke with. They were all very willing to chat to me and even help me with my application,” says Errico, who will complete the one-year programme this September. “The uniquely global nature of the MBA also appealed – I get to study in ESSEC’s campuses in Paris and Singapore.”

The ESSEC Global MBA is also tailored to meet the needs of finance professionals like Errico. Alongside compulsory foundation modules covering various business and management topics, participants can choose to specialise in finance as their major.

The Finance major – which includes elective courses such as Equity and Debt Capital Markets, Private Equity and Fintech – was introduced last year as part of a revamp of the Global MBA, says Sofia Ramos, an Associate Professor in the Finance Department at ESSEC.

“ESSEC is a world leader in finance education through our long-running Master in Finance degree, and our Global MBA now leverages this finance expertise. Combined with the management courses on the MBA, we offer finance professionals the best of both worlds,” explains Professor Ramos. “But it’s not just a generic finance option tacked onto an MBA. If you major in finance, we give you in-depth knowledge across a range of specialist subjects – from valuation to project finance – that will add to what you already know about the sector.”

The ESSEC faculty in both Singapore and Paris are “outstanding”, says Errico. “I’m enjoying their interactive teaching style and benefiting from their sector experience. The professors here also go the extra mile for us outside the classroom – helping with upcoming interviews and putting us in touch with people in the industry, for example. One time I couldn’t make a class and the professor even ran through the lesson again, just for me.”

ESSEC also invites industry professionals from the finance sector to attend Global MBA lectures as guest speakers in its Singapore and Paris campuses. “We’ve had very senior people visit us, not just from banks and PE firms, but also from tech companies like Google and Amazon,” says Errico. “They bring insights into their companies and the most up-to-date knowledge of their sector.”

Errico says he’s also learning new perspectives on business and finance from working with his classmates in case study groups. “We’re a diverse bunch. One minute I’m talking to a naval officer, the next to someone from Accenture,” he adds. “Some of us want to advance in our current sector, while others want a total career change – from pharmaceuticals to banking, for example. And we come from every continent, apart from Antarctica.”

The ESSEC programme also bolsters its global credentials by taking finance-major students on field trips to London and then to either New York or Hong Kong. “They visit leading financial institutions in those cities – such as Goldman Sachs, Citi, and SocGen – and can network with people at all levels,” says Professor Ramos.

“I’ve already done the London trip and I got great exposure to the big banks there,” adds Errico. “I now know a lot more about the firms I might apply to in the future. Some of the senior bankers I met even said they would help me with their application and interview processes.”

Errico says that interacting with people from so many different cultures – both on the field trips and in the classroom – is helping to improve his communication skills. “My class also reflects the diversity you’d see in the workplace in a global financial centre, where being able to relate to people from all backgrounds is crucial.”

His presentation skills have also got better. “Before the Global MBA, I wasn’t so used to speaking in front of an audience, but after doing at least one presentation a week during the course it’s now become natural to me.”

The finance modules of the Global MBA are giving Errico new technical skills beyond those he learned working in risk management. “I understand how to valuate a company and how to analyse financial statements, for example,” he says.

Errico is already applying for new jobs and has recently done a couple of interviews. He says having ESSEC on his CV is “opening doors”. “Because it’s such a global qualification, I’m confident about going for roles in Singapore, Paris and other financial centres across the world,” says Errico. “I’ve used my classroom knowledge in interviews. I was once asked about digital disruption in the finance sector, and I drew on my experience from the ESSEC Digital Week Competition that I took part in.”

ESSEC provides all participants with career support, tailored to their major (i.e. finance in Errico’s case) and to the specialist sector they want to work in after graduating. “If they’re interested in private equity, for example, we find them a PE professional from our alumni network who can act as their mentor,” says Professor Ramos. “We also bring in people from the finance industry to help with mock interviews.”

Participants should take full advantage of the career services on offer at ESSEC, adds Errico. “You can’t just rely on your academic achievements to get you a job. You have to make use of all the industry networking opportunities during the programme. Talk to people and follow up with them – be proactive.”

Errico says starting the full-time Global MBA was “challenging”. “I left a good job with a stable income and relocated my life to study in Singapore and Paris,” he says. “But because of the ESSEC programme, I can now see many new career possibilities on the horizon. I can’t wait to start my next adventure.”

To find out more about the Global MBA you can download the brochure here

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