Investment Banker Gets Best Of Both Worlds With MBA In Paris And New York
Lebanese Karim Jaroudi who studied at HEC Paris and NYU Stern
Investment banker Karim Jaroudi had a chance encounter in Paris which led him to study for a dual MBA at HEC Paris and NYU Stern.
Lebanese Karim was born in Beirut and grew up in Geneva, Beirut and Riyadh. As an undergraduate Karim studied business at the American University of Beirut: “My decisions were guided or influenced indirectly, I was brought up in a family of several generations of bankers/entrepreneurs.”
Karim, who is currently an investment banking Associate with HSBC in New York, had some mentors and discussed his career options early on. “I strongly believed that coming straight out of an undergrad program, kick-starting my career in investment banking or management consulting was the best way - with the steepest learning curve - to build skills, network and gain an understanding of industries and businesses that would be valuable in the corporate world.”
His first job was gained through networking and using family contacts. “I had gone through a summer internship in merchant banking previously - it's essential to understand the investment banking industry and do your research - which also helped my candidacy against other candidates trying to break into investment banking.” Karim prepared thoroughly for the interviews and cemented the story as to why he wanted to break into the industry.
Karim has worked for a succession of banks including Merrill Lynch, Dubai Bank and Jefferies & Company. He says that “working in investment banking is a very intense experience. This is not your average nine to five job. Due to the long hours involved, work stamina is required. When deadlines approach for deals, consecutive all nighters are frequent and I had to quickly adjust to the lifestyle and requirements of such a job. I had to work extremely hard and for long hours and there is no distinction between your private and professional life.”
Each bank Karim has worked for has a different approach and culture; “Merrill Lynch is a bulge bracket; a powerhouse where you can get lost in the hierarchy and size of the firm, Dubai Bank is a regional commercial bank which had an investment banking department. Jefferies is a middle market firm, very entrepreneurial and initiative driven with a great culture and talented people which allows it to punch above its weight when it comes to deals and transactions.”
Karim’s overall experience has been diverse and given him an intense training in corporate finance and accounting. “It gave me the opportunity to travel a lot and work in London, Dubai and Singapore. In addition I was exposed to a number of industries, various capital markets and structures of transactions. It allowed me to gain exposure to senior management and build some contacts and a network in the business world.”
After four years of investment banking Karim needed a break and an MBA was “more of a personal decision than a professional one.” Karim wanted to broaden his views and consider other potential careers while building on the skills and network he built during those four years. “An MBA for me was a good point at which to reevaluate my career and make a change without any penalty.”
The search was now on for the perfect business school. Karim initially considered schools in New York, specifically Columbia Business School but while on holiday in Paris Karim met alumni of HEC Paris. “These alumni talked to me about the program and encouraged me to apply to European schools as well. After research I saw that HEC Paris had a dual degree program with NYU Stern, which fit my plans perfectly.”
This dual degree full-time MBA program sees the candidate spending a year at both HEC Paris and NYU Stern and gaining an MBA from both. Karim spent the core program at HEC Paris, focusing on management classes and soft skills and his electives at NYU Stern with a concentration on Finance.
Karim says that these two years were the best of his life so far. “It was a great experience, I met some incredible people who are very close friends today, I travelled a lot, sharpened my skills and understanding of some areas, got exposed to new ideas and concepts. I was challenged by taking the lead in clubs and projects and the intense academic training.”
The MBA offered him access to alumni across two continents from two prestigious universities and landed him a great job at HSBC upon graduation. “I have joined HSBC as an Associate and am considering being placed in their Principal investments Fund.”
So what were the differences between the two business schools? Karim explains that HEC Paris had smaller classes and with the campus being in Jouy en Josas there was more bonding between students. Modules were focused more on soft skills such as leadership, strategy sustainable development and personal growth. NYU Stern was a more high-octane program with a very strong finance faculty. The unbeatable location in the heart of New York saw close ties to Wall Street.
In his two years Karim had two great experiences: whilst at HEC Paris Karim elected to study for a Real Estate Certificate and at NYU Stern a hands-on experience in the private equity industry at the Global Emerging Markets Group in New York.
Karim believes that in the emerging markets and the Middle East there is a lot that can be done to support SMEs and entrepreneurial ventures which are essential for an economy to grow and flourish. “I strongly believe that private equity and VC investments could play a crucial role in this by having USD$ 100-200 million funds that invest in small companies and that would be an area that I would like to explore and be part of in the mid- to long-term.”
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