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Fintech: Blockchain And Artificial Intelligence Startups Are Flocking To HEC Paris — Here's Why

There's a growing appetite for MBA talent, from 'disruptors' to bulge-bracket banks

Thu Oct 27 2016

BusinessBecause
Few topics get business schoolers' pulses racing like financial technology — from blockchain and cryptocurrencies to artificial intelligence, the fintech revolution has already made its way into a suite of MBA degrees.

And according to one top French business school, fintech start-ups like TransferWise or GoCardless now vie with investment banks and traditional financial services companies for digitally skilled, entrepreneurial recruits.

Spreadsheet-savvy MBAs may not seem like the type for fast-paced tech firms, but their growing appetite for MBAs was on full display at HEC Paris' second annual Fintech Talent Fair this month. From start-ups like Blockchain and PayinTech to larger financial institutions such as Bloomberg and BNP Paribas, companies representing the full fintech spectrum were out in force.

The roster of high-profile businesses will interest anyone considering a career in the nascent but rapidly growing fintech industry.

William Kunter works for N26, a German app-only bank that's backed by Peter Thiel and Li Ka-shing. Founded in 2013, it has 200,000 customers, 140 employees and this summer, it raised $40 million.

William left Goldman Sachs to join the start-up in September 2016, a few years after picking up a master's degree in finance at HEC Paris.

He was at this year’s Fintech Talent Fair, snapping up new recruits.

We asked William why MBAs should consider a career in fintech. This is what he told us:

Why should business students consider a career in fintech?

For a lot of reasons actually. First, fintech is probably one of the hottest and most dynamic sectors in tech today. It’s attracting a lot of interest and funding. Second, working in fintech gives you the opportunity to have a real impact on the day to day life of a very large number of people. Lastly, fintech start-ups deal with a fairly complex environment and designing simple products in that environment is a real challenge, and therefore intellectually stimulating. It requires knowledge of a broad array of topics — perfect for business students.

There's a perception that b-school students can be a little rigid for fast-moving tech companies. How has your master's degree in finance from HEC Paris helped you in the fintech industry?

I really think that’s a misconception. In my view, b-school students are not rigid, they are structured and that’s a big difference. A crucial point in the success of a start-up is how well it can execute. That’s why a lot of start-ups are looking for structured candidates, as they are at the very beginning of implementing the structures in their companies. B-school students, thanks to their educational background and past experience, have a clear advantage.

That being said, if you’re interested in joining a start-up, you also need to be flexible because you need to adapt quickly to a fast-paced environment and to the people you are working with. So for me, the best candidates are the ones who are structured and flexible at the same time. I think that’s exactly what my master’s degree from HEC Paris gave me. It provided me with the first building blocks of the professional I am today. It taught me solid business knowledge, strong analytical skills and also helped me to adapt quickly to various situations.

Is N26 hiring business school grads?

Absolutely! As we’re growing quickly, we’re looking to hire more experienced (MBA) as well as less experienced (master) business school profiles for internship and full time positions. We actually already have both profiles at N26. For instance our head of marketing as well as our head of product have MBAs. In that respect, I would encourage all business school grads with a keen interest in fintech and with prior experience in banking / consulting / start-ups to send us their CV.

N26 is probably one of the hottest fintech start-ups in Europe at the moment, backed by prominent investors. We’re trying to do two things: build the pan-European bank of tomorrow and build a fintech hub. All the while we always concentrate on creating a simple product that is easy to use and really makes banking enjoyable for customers. So if you want to work in the fintech industry, N26 is a pretty good place to be in as you get a large exposure to the space.

Why are you attending the Fintech Talent Fair?

The Fintech Talent Fair is a great opportunity to network with people from the industry and to meet talented students eager to work in the fintech space. We’re always looking for good candidates. We’re well aware that the success of a start-up really depends on its ability to hire the best and brightest. Such events are opportunities to do so. For us, a Berlin-based start-up, it’s also an occasion to increase our visibility, especially when we’re planning to expand in Europe within the coming weeks!

Student Reviews

HEC Paris

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

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