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MSc leads to career benefits

By Guadalupe Gonzalez - Posted on 27 April 2022

Guadalupe Gonzalez did the MSc in International Banking and Finance at Strathclyde – here, she outlines how her career benefited from her studies and how she balanced her time. 

As a student of a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy at Universidad La Salle in Mexico City, I worked for one year at Deloitte Mexico within the International Tax Team as a Junior Tax Consultant. 

Once I graduated in 2013, I set out to learn as much as I could about Corporate Banking and Finance and joined Scotiabank in Mexico where I worked within Global Banking and Markets, and Global Risk Management. 

While working within the Global Banking and Markets team, I coordinated the whole process of credit generation in Mexico and Canada that included the structuring and underwriting of new and existing deals with challenging structures for a lending portfolio of USD$ 862 million. I was also in charge of recommending quarterly and annual credit risk rating for each client for the bank’s capital reserves. I structured and underwrote loan requests for telecom, mining, media and retail companies and presented them for approval to senior credit risk committees in Mexico and Canada. This portfolio represented over 30% of total corporate portfolio at that time. 

I then joined the Global Risk Management Team within the Corporate Credit Risk Group as a Senior Manager. In this role I was responsible for identifying and assessing credit risk of complex finance for Corporate Banking customers to ensure that this risk was properly mitigated and the deal complied with Mexican and Canadian banking regulation. In this role, I had the authority for the approval of facilities up to US$15 million. I was also in control of topics such as reserves’ calculation. This provided me with visibility on different matters that comprised the whole Bank’s operations. 

After more than five years of corporate banking and credit risk experience, in 2018, I decided it was time to broaden my understanding of the international financial systems by studying a related MSc degree at the University of Strathclyde. 

During the time I worked at Scotiabank, one of my colleagues, and friends from Scotiabank’s London office, suggested the UK could be interesting for me not only in terms of getting to know a new region and culture, but also because of the high scores in global rankings the UK universities hold. In addition, a Masters usually takes only one year in the UK vs two years in North America. 

I knew the MSc in International Banking and Finance would fulfil my learning requirements to continue developing a career within a financial institution. Looking at the modules description I knew that the programme would contribute to my knowledge in terms of identifying the primary determinants of the prices of bonds and shares or understanding the implications of the capital asset pricing model for security analysis. 

I chose Strathclyde Business School based on its international accreditations and first-class reputation. I was also awarded a £10,000 scholarship by the University on merit, by demonstrating excellent academic performance, relevant professional experience and career development. 

The programme met my two main goals of obtaining a deeper understating of finance, given my previous degree was mostly focused on accounting areas; and getting new insights of the Banking world, especially with an international context, but also to learn from the academic and research approach. 

The International Financial Markets & Banking module was definitely one of my favourites as I learned about the British & European Financial system which encompasses distinct institutions, products and practices when compared to Latin America, but it also considered a global scope. Topics like Islamic banking (which is completely unknown in Mexico) were included. Risk Management for Banks and Financial Management for Banks were crucial modules for me as I was able to walk through these topics from the academic perspective for the first time. I also valued practising derivatives trading at the Volcube platform within the Derivatives module, as it allowed me to have a close up to the real practice given. 

Two months after completing my degree, I re-entered the financial world working for a pension fund in Mexico called Afore Coppel as an Associate Director leading the Fixed Income Research team. The MSc definitely enhanced my academic profile and provided me with me more competitive attributes given the new insights I got. Moreover, my colleagues and supervisors appreciated the fact that I stepped out of my comfort zone and embarked in the Masters journey as they know this kind of experience represents a great opportunity to develop new skills such as adaptability, independence, solving-problem capacity, and leadership. 

Additionally, the solid base of knowledge acquired allowed me to join a financial institution with a different focus to my former employer. As a result of this, I am able to put into practice my new abilities and learning outcomes to keep strengthening my professional profile. 

I believe this programme provides a robust source of knowledge covering several branches of finance and banking which allows you to later choose from a wide variety of jobs from banking to asset management and corporate finance. The learning method is useful for getting a job in the industry or to pursue a related research degree. Furthermore, the programme covers a great percentage of the CFA level I curriculum, making it more attractive for students who would like to choose the path of getting further qualifications. 

Aside from the academic part of my time at Strathclyde, I have to say that what I loved about Glasgow - I know it’s a cliche – was the people. From the University’s staff, or someone assisting me at a shop or the hosts at the bed & breakfast accommodation where I stayed when travelling around, people were always kind and respectful with me. Also, Glaswegian nights were fun! There are a lot of clubs to go dancing and Glasgow is a cultural city where I was able to attend an Estonian ballet show. The variety of restaurants was much appreciated as I love trying international food and I was also able to find a shop close to the University where I could buy Mexican ingredients whenever I wanted to cook Mexican food. 

I loved Scotland’s nature and landscapes. I went to Isle of Skye twice during the summer as the landscapes were phenomenal. Hiking the Old Man of Storr was definitely an amazing experience and I get goosebumps just thinking about this place. 

During my second semester I became a member of the Strathclyde Photo Club. Joining this group allowed me to travel within Scotland to beautiful locations and sometimes to places that were not highly demanded by tourists, letting me get immersed in the real day-to-day life in Scotland and meet other students from different countries and different programmes. 

I also participated in a Dubai trip organised by the Business School in March 2019 where we visited companies and organisations to acquire a full overview of business in that zone. Visiting the Dubai International Financial Centre was the cherry on top of the trip as we attended a conference related to Islamic banking, which was one of my favourite topics within the International Financial Markets & Banking module. 

While aware of my priorities as a student, I looked into having a balance with recreational activities and the Masters experience allowed me to enhance my time management skills - I am certainly a more organised individual now. 

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