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How My Master's Helped Me Crack The Financial Industry

Fabian Piira had set a goal to join the financial industry and Fuqua's Master of Management Studies program was his entry ticket.

Mon May 12 2014

BusinessBecause
Earning a Master of Management Studies from Duke University has given Fabian Piira’s career a kick. “All the skills, maybe not always technical, but those soft skills, were very helpful throughout the subsequent job application process,” says Fabian, who joined Morgan Stanley in July 2013. “They helped me craft my presentation and resume.”

Fabian finished his studies at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business last year, eager to break into investment banking. He has been very keen on joining a bank ever since his internship with FiveT Capital AG in Germany four years ago.

“What I find interesting about financial markets is how fast-paced the environment is,” he says. “It’s very challenging, and in order to work in a financial services company you have to react very quickly.”

When Fabian left FiveT Capital AG after two months, he was hooked: “I realized that investment banking is where I could see myself in, in the long run. It’s a field where I can progress and learn.”

In 2011, he took up a summer analyst position at Citibank in Frankfurt. He started out in mergers and acquisitions advisory and it is a career path he has followed ever since. “I feel I’m really at the heart of the financial market,” says Fabian. “We’re issuing stocks and bonds, and working with big companies through mergers. This was always appealing.”

After those three months, he decided to pursue a Master’s degree. The Fuqua School of Business has a range of programs but Fabian chose their Master of Management Studies. The 10-month course aims to equip graduates with a foundation in business. There are about 100 students in a typical class. The average age is 23.

He started the program in 2012 and received a merit-based scholarship from Fuqua. “I didn’t really have the background that I needed to work in an international business setting,” says Fabian, who was born and raised in Germany. “I wanted to position myself for a career in America.”

He wanted a practical experience. “My undergraduate studies were focused on theory and I didn’t feel that I had gotten a very practical skillset,” he says. “I thought using a case-based approach would give me an edge prior to starting my career.”

Fabian feels the Master’s program gave him all of that – and more. “We were working through real-world business problems in the lectures as well as in small groups,” he says. “I feel that I can now capitalize on that every day at work.”

Aged 23 at the time, Fabian considered an MBA program but felt it was geared to a different audience. People on MBAs are usually older. “The Master of Management Studies was a really good program for somebody like me coming out of college with no significant work experience,” he says.

At the start of the program, Fabian was elected president of the MMS Finance Club. He organized weekly meetings and invited speakers to attend. “I certainly did benefit,” he says. “It gives you a platform to share information with people with similar interests. We shared our resumes.”

Some business schools have said that fewer of their students are pursuing finance careers these days. Fabian agrees that banks have faced reputational challenges: “I think that the financial crisis has had a major impact on the way people think about financial institutions. Compensation has gone down and this is something that might make those jobs less attractive.”

But he was undeterred. He spent hours in the business school’s library scanning cover letters, which served as a benchmark for his own. He adds that the career coaches proved helpful. “It was much easier for me to get the job with a Master’s, it was easier to start the job with this degree and it was easier to be good at the job with the additional knowledge and experience I had gathered.”

His advice to aspiring financiers is to first test the water with an internship. It is important to understand what the day-to-day work is like.

“Investment banking is not what a lot of people think it is,” adds Fabian. “People should certainly think about whether they are willing to put in the hours necessarily to do a good job here. It is more challenging than people think.”

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Supportive atmosphere

The professors at Duke university exhibit exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of their students by ensuring their academic growth and fostering a supportive social atmosphere. Moreover, the entire community is recognized for its amicability and inclusiveness.

Maxwell

Verified

30/03/2023

On Campus

Diversity

The people or the students are without a doubt Duke's greatest asset. While all students are driven to succeed, they are also enthusiastic about a variety of hobbies. You run across a huge lot of diversity. It is the ideal example of a school with well-rounded students and the ideal balance of campus life in a metropolis.

Anabelle

Verified

27/02/2023

On Campus

Happy to school

All I could ever hope for is Duke University. That really epitomizes the "work hard, play hard" philosophy that elite colleges frequently pursue. Even though you'll have a lot of schooling to complete over the week, it's simple to keep focused because all of your friends are putting in similar amounts of effort. Many events taking place on and around campus on the weekends provide a great way to unwind. The combination of demanding academics and traditional college fun strikes the perfect balance.

Monica

Verified

27/02/2023

On Campus

Good schooling

Living, eating, learning, and developing who you want to be as an adult are all fantastic at Duke. I participated in student athletics, and I couldn't have asked for a better interaction with the faculty and other students. I appreciate all of the help I get from the Duke community more than anything. Furthermore, the teachers take the time to get to know you, and the lectures are diverse and demanding (if you do the same). I'd give it a 10 out of 10.

Aline

Verified

26/11/2022

On Campus

Beautiful School, Nice Classes

DU remains one the greatest and best universities that I have ever stepped in. The school is beautiful and neat. The classes are spacious and also very nice. I enjoyed attending my Lectures in those lecture halls. I also loved the Lecturers because of the good work they did. The university also has very good dorms that are given to students on first come first serve basis and they are affordable

Student

Verified

29/06/2022

Blended

Amazing experience

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Global Health with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. I was able to grow as a student, scientist, and global health advocate with the help of my friends, professors, and other mentors I met along the way. A lot to learn if you look and ask, a great place to learn for those who want to learn.

Student

Verified

29/06/2022

Blended

whirlwind of growth and change

An amazing 2 years, with covid and everything else happening Duke has been a place of growth for me. The courses , classes were one of a kind, online and on campus. But the valuable lessons learned in the classes are irreplicable. The students are amazing here, so much diversity , I had no problem fitting in. The teachers are down right brilliant and so helpful. Don't be afraid to ask them anything. Graduated with my MBA with Duke and now my future awaits.

Student

Verified

29/06/2022

On Campus

One of the best for Business students

Graduated with an MBA. The classes were very insightful and engaging. The staff are very easy to deal with. The teachers and students, are truly amazing people. Grateful to all the people I've met along the way at Duke. I've learnt a great deal that will help me in my future endeavors. The campus itself is a marvel, it is beautiful.

Student

Verified

16/06/2022

On Campus

The university campus is awesome

I graduated with a masters degree in Religious Studies from Duke University. One thing I really liked about the university is its huge campus. It is spread in a large area with a lot of greenery and also have the facilities of reading rooms for single person also. My department building was very well taken care of. The library is immensely populated with books for all your needs. The faculty is very nice to students. The classes are equipped with latest technology to cater the needs of students. The University also provides room rentals for international students. They are very well maintained and priority is given to the International students for a comfortable stay there. There are weekly events conducted by the University as well as Student clubs for the entertainment of students. Anybody can take part in them and show their talents. I enjoyed my degree and I graduated in 2021 and was very happy that I had graduated from a reputed University.

Dhanush

Verified

12/07/2024

On Campus

Program Flexibility and Vibrant Campus Life

Duke University is renowned for its rigorous academic programs and vibrant campus life. The university offers a diverse range of majors and research opportunities, supported by world-class faculty. What I particularly liked about Duke was its strong sense of community and the wealth of extracurricular activities available to students. The campus is beautiful, with top-notch facilities and a supportive atmosphere that fosters both personal and academic growth. Overall, I would highly recommend Duke University for its excellent educational offerings and strong alumni network. If you're looking for a place that challenges you academically while offering numerous opportunities for personal development, Duke is an excellent choice.

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