In the third week of the MIF program (MSc International Finance), it was finally time for the highly awaited London Study Trip. Four exciting days lay ahead of me in the financial capital of Europe with company visits, conferences, networking, and touristing.
On our way to London, we traveled by the high-speed Eurostar train – 177 students in business suits and attire traveling at 300km/h across borders, almost the same speed as my HEC experience so far. The anticipation and excitement of the trip fueled the journey and I eagerly discussed the coming days with my MIF-classmate in the seat next to me. I mean, who would be able not to? After all, I had the opportunity to select among more than 40 renowned financial companies for company visits across Hedge Funds, Asset Management, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Investment Banking, Capital Markets, etc. – if you can name the company, you could visit them.
The biggest recruiters at hand
The first visit was at Amundi Asset Management, where I arrived at their wonderful office building right across the Bank of England after some questionable navigation in the Underground and suit-jogging with luggage in order to make it in time.
The presentation was very informative and I gained insight into the company and their operational procedures in a way that would be very hard to come by in any other way than direct interaction with company representatives. I soon realized how valuable these visits are and why HEC Paris invests so much in order to give us students as much as 20 hours direct exposure to premier companies during the study trip. As you can imagine, this also implied that my schedule was quite tight. Right after the visit at Amundi my fellow students and I went for a quick refueling at a Prêt à Manger shop (obviously we had to mix French and British) before attending a networking event with HEC Alumni at The Royal Society.
I was thrilled to be in the unique surroundings of one of the World’s oldest ‘learned societies for science’ still in existence today. The event offered me the opportunity to meet and speak with HEC Alumni with very diverse backgrounds, jobs, and duration of work experience since graduating from HEC Paris.
Though the night was very interesting, I did not go back to the hotel too late as a new day was yet to come, where we had to be at 8:30 sharp at The Shard for a Fintech & Venture Capital Conference.
On the next day, following an appreciated English breakfast in the morning, I arrived together with my group at the fascinating building, The Shard, for the conference. It was quite metaphoric that we were in the tallest building in London, overlooking the financial capital of Europe while discussing the future of the very same industry. The conference was very eye-opening and challenged our view of how Finance might evolve going forward.
A variety of company presentations
Just before my next event at Macquarie, I had time to go for a proper Banker-coffee in London. In everyday life, nothing quite beats the relaxing state of enjoying a cup of coffee with great friends, so I felt lucky to enjoy this moment despite our busy schedule during the trip. The Macquarie office visit was just as exciting as I had imagined, and the opportunity to see their entire trading floor was quite a unique experience. I remember thinking that the rest of the company visits should really up their game to match the bar set for the entire trip so far – and I was not disappointed. Each of the company visits was very different from the last. E.g. at the office visit at Morgan Stanley, following Macquarie, we were presented with very interesting M&A, ECM, and DCM transaction case studies accompanied by outstanding presentations, open discussions, and networking with employees.
Even though there is a ton of other events and company visits to highlight, I want to share another experience instead – something you only really realize when you have been at HEC for some time and been on the study trip. During the four days, I gradually began to finally comprehend how amazing and exceptional the Alumni network actually is at HEC Paris. No matter which firm you attend or which networking session you find yourself in, there is always an HEC alumnus willing to go above and beyond to help you. Both professionally and personally HEC Alumni are a vital asset for your future and your experience at HEC Paris. I had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Barbecoa with Alumni now working at Goldman Sachs as well as having a beer with Alumni from every corner of the world during the London Pub Crawl.
After three days with an intense program and a fourth day exploring London and all that the city has to offer during the day and at night, it was eventually time for taking the train back to Paris – yet again travelling at a speed as fast as the trip had gone by.