An important piece of advice that I received when I started working as a new graduate was about how I needed to continue investing in my personal development if I wanted to be successful in my career. One manager at my first firm went as far as telling me that he spent 10-20% of his income every year in his personal development during his early career. In my case, I didn’t have a fixed monetary amount but every year I made a conscious effort to have some additional personal development goal outside of work. Very often this was in the form of attaining a professional qualification. Before you continue reading, I want to make my view clear, I’m not professing that going out there and collecting degrees and letters after your name is the winning tactic. Ultimately, your success at work will depend on how well you can do the job and communicate your contributions to key stakeholders. What I am saying is that especially in a very rapidly evolving job market like the one we are seeing today, failing to grow your skillsets might not just stop you from getting that promotion but might even be detrimental for your career and job stability as a wide range of jobs become obsolete due to the development of new technologies.
As my Toastmasters journey continues, I have been reaping a lot of the benefits from being an active member. In my last post, I spoke about how taking a club officer role helped me in working on my leadership skills. In this post, I would like to share with you my experience from entering Club Level, Area Level and Division Level competitions. A few years ago, the idea of entering a speech contest would have terrified me since I was never comfortable speaking in front of people. Competing in a speech contest was a goal that I wanted to work towards but one that I felt was of my reach, however thanks to the confidence that I built in delivering speeches at my club and thanks to the warm support of my club members, I was able to finally reach this goal.
I have recently completed the Accounting module which is the EMBA’s first module so in this post I will share some thoughts about my learning experience. In past posts, I gave a general overview about the EMBA but now that I have taken and completed a course, I can share more concrete details which I hope readers find helpful.
What does the Accounting module cover?
As the module’s name suggests, the course covers general accounting concepts such as ledgers, credits and debits, key financial statements, ratios and some aspects of managerial accounting. The unit also covers some non-accounting concepts such as general explanations of financial instruments such as stocks and bonds. It is quite a lot of material to cover over five weeks, especially if you are new to these concepts. I did a management degree for my undergraduate studies and these are concepts you would normally cover in 1-2 semesters.
In a past post, I wrote about my experience in joining a Toastmasters Club. As I am writing this post, around a year and a half has passed since and there is a lot that I have gained from my involvement in Toastmasters. I have enjoyed it so much that I am now part of three clubs (yes, that’s a lot of time committed to Toastmasters). For those of you who have never heard about Toastmasters, you can refer to my previous post where I provide a general overview but to sum it up, it’s an organisation that helps its members develop their presentation and leadership skills.
What I would like to focus on in this post is the valuable experience that I have gained from taking the club officer role of president at one of my clubs. Every Toastmasters Club is managed by designated club officers who help in the running of the club by taking on core responsibilities that are essential for growing and maintaining a healthy club. These individuals are ordinary club members who put themselves forward at the start of an office term (more details can be found here) and are elected via the club’s officer election process.
While my first year at Toastmasters was focused on my presentation skills and on working on my speeches, my second year has been focused more on my club officer role. I have seen a lot of seasoned toastmasters who are just happy focusing on their speeches and avoid taking club officer roles due to several reasons (time commitment, additional responsibilities, etc.) but I think this is a big mistake as there is so much value from being a club officer. I believe that by taking on a club officer role, members can truly focus on harnessing their leadership skills. In this post I am summing up some of my key learnings:
Last month I posted about having enrolled for Quantic’s Executive MBA. While only a couple of months have passed, my experience so far has been very positive. Just to share some background, I decided to pursue this degree as a way to get a good general grasp of the business skills which are required in running a company. My education so far has been skewed towards Finance (specifically the area of financial engineering and risk) and I felt that I lacked a broader understanding of how companies operate, something which I believe is important, especially for senior managerial positions. The second appeal was purely a desire to expand my network and to build up connections outside of my industry. As I wrote in my first post, I was initially apprehensive in enrolling and turned my offer down as I considered $9,600 to be too expensive on a relatively new course which is mostly based on an app. I eventually decided to take a gamble as the degree has been gaining more and more momentum and having not found a suitable alternative, I enrolled. I did not want to give up my day job for a full-time MBA and I did not want to commit in paying the fees charged by traditional business schools.
For those of you who are reading this post, chances are that you might have come across Quantic’s MBA programmes and that you are looking for what people are saying about it before you further consider it an option for boosting your career. This degree has been on my radar for over a year and despite still having some doubts, I recently decided to take a gamble and enrol onto their EMBA programme. I did a fair bit of research and I must say that the information that is available online is still limited and the quality of the reviews are poor. Most of the reviews that I came across were too one-sided; on one side people claiming that this is another degree mill, on the other side people advocating that the Quantic MBA was one of the best career decisions that they had ever made. In the following months, as I start my studies with this institution I am hoping to add my take on this programme.
A year ago I started studying the MSc in Financial Engineering offered by WQU and I wrote about the course here. As I am writing this post, I have now completed around 60% of the modules so I thought that an update would be helpful for prospective students.
These are the modules that I have completed:
(1) Financial Markets: this is a general introduction to financial markets and financial products. As the course caters towards students with different backgrounds, if you have studied for financial qualifications (such as CFA, FRM etc.) you will find this to be a gentle refresher. As it’s hard to test any maths skills, most of the assignments/essays will be theoretical.
(2) Econometrics: OK, you will finally get your hands dirty and start doing some work with time series. You will start with classic models such as GARCH, ARCH, ARIMA in analysing time series of end of day asset prices. Although you get the choice between R and Python, at least for this module, I strongly recommend sticking to R (lecture notes are better written for R).
(3) Discrete-time Stochastic Processes, (4) Continuous-time Stochastic Processes: these two courses in my opinion are at the heart of the programme; when it comes to asset pricing, having an understanding of stochastic processes and their properties is indispensable when deriving pricing equations of various claims. These two modules will be especially tough for candidates with a weak mathematical background. These concepts are quite abstract so they just require some time to sink in – I wouldn’t get discouraged if you see a massive knowledge gap. The assignments were focused on applying Monte Carlo methods and analytical pricing formulas on exotic derivatives. The projects from these modules were the most enjoyable so far.
(5) Computational Finance This module builds on a lot of the concepts learned during the previous two modules by teaching students how to implement the concepts in python. It has an emphasis in applying Monte Carlo Methods in pricing exotic options and computing CVA. I found this module to be very practical.
(6) Machine Learning in Finance They seem to cover a lot of the so called classic topics in ML: classifiers, supervised & unsupervised learning, etc. You will be using tensor-flow in training the various models, making predictions and assessing the model’s accuracy.
Over the years, Tableau has become a very popular BI tool for companies. The software allows users to easily connect to a number of data sources and create a wide range of visualisations; it is very intuitive to use but also comes with a lot of features which allows users to create very cool looking dashboards.
Candidates can also get certified so they can show employers and clients that they have attained a certain level of mastery in using this product. In this post I will be writing about the Tableau Desktop Specialist exam which is the foundational exam. Details regarding this certification can be found here. The exam is aimed at candidates with at least 3 months of experience in using Tableau and it costs $100 to take which is relatively low. The certification also has no expiry (compared to the other Tableau exams). Taking into account the cost and preparation time, I think this certificate is a good investment and could be an added bonus to a candidate’s CV as more and more companies are starting to implement Tableau.
So, you are interested in Data Science and you have come across this free course offered by WQU and you are evaluating whether this course might be worth your time. In this post I will share my experience from having taken this course six months ago. WQU shared a list of key skills which are used on this course which can be found here. At first, the course starts with basic concepts of programming such as: defining variables, data types, loops, functions, classes, etc. It then builds on these core concepts and introduces key packages such as NumPy and Pandas which have ready made modules to read in data. I would say that the rest of module 1 can be summarised in transforming this data and querying it; it’s no coincidence that WQU put ‘Data Wrangling’ at the top of the skills list.
On 17th August 2021, Bloomberg published an opinion piece titled “Wall Street’s CFA Program Is a Colossal Waste of Time ” and this post is a response to that article. The CFA Charter has very often been regarded as the gold standard when it comes to qualifications in the financial industry and this article has undoubtedly ignited some discussions, with subreddit threads such as this one being just one of the few examples. Calling the CFA program a “Colossal Waste of Time” seems to be a pretty bold statement and given that in the article the author (Jared Dillian) mentions that he passed level I but never completed the qualification, a lot of readers were quick to dismiss his opinion. The author also expressed his view that he favours MBAs over the CFA program which caused a slight digression towards the comparison of the two qualifications. However, some readers were eager to identify elements of truth in the article as they possibly mull over their options following the decrease in pass rates for the latest sittings.