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Monday, September 21, 2020

Ten Tips for MBA Careers in Finance

September 21, 2020. Shanghai – Given Shanghai’s status as one of the international finance capitals of the world, the full time CEIBS MBA programme regularly attracts a diverse student body with around one third of its representation coming from the banking and finance sectors. Placement-wise, the industry had long occupied the top spot in our annual MBA Career Placement Report – that is, until technology took over as the hottest sector in 2019.

For MBAs looking to break into finance, or move around within the industry, CEIBS offers a number of initiatives including a finance concentration, the Finance and Investment Club and market exploration treks to Hong Kong and Singapore. To help those strategizing about how to make their move, MBA Admissions sat down with current students and alumni spread across three continents to gather their top tips on making the most of the MBA experience.



“China represents the biggest opportunity for our generation, but employment for non-native Mandarin speakers here is quite niche. For this reason, I’d recommend networking with the right people. Running for club leadership gives you a credible platform to reach out and engage with senior finance professionals.”

– Neil Flynn, MBA2021 & President of the Finance and Investment Club


“To switch to finance, you need to land an internship that bridges your pre-MBA field and finance. You need to build your credentials in finance during the MBA, but I’d recommend exploring internship opportunities even before starting the programme. Trust me, you are likely to be overwhelmed in the first two terms.”

– Xiaokun Li, MBA2021 & Club Leadership of the Finance and Investment Club


“I’ve found the takeaways from electives in advanced corporate finance and PE/VC very useful in my current role. Outside of the classroom, I can recommend joining the Hong Kong Market exploration trek, competitions and finance club events such as the Healthcare Investment Forum. More importantly, plan well for these events. Leave an impression on the speakers and follow up!”

– Cain Tong, MBA2020 & Deal Advisory M&A at KPMG in Shanghai


“JPMorgan mainly hires MBAs for private banker roles. I was very focused on achieving my career switch from luxury during the MBA, so I sacrificed a lot of social activities and non-finance specific events in order to focus on my goal. I’d recommend career switchers leverage their prior industry experience, take advantage and highlight this.”

– Tian Tian, MBA2019 & Private Banker at JPMorgan in Hong Kong


“To land an opportunity in fintech, you need a passion for technology as well as the practical implications in the finance world. This will drive you to mix finance and tech. At CEIBS, I’d recommend taking the digital business concentration as electives such as Blockchain Business Applications and Digital Strategy are highly relevant.”

– Ke Zeng MBA2020 & Management Associate TTS APAC at Citi in Hong Kong


“For impact investment, you need to have a good knowledge of the economies you intend to focus on. Many of the opportunities are in developing geographies, but what is interesting is China’s relationships with many of these economies. This is a perspective you get from CEIBS that I couldn't have found elsewhere.”

– Apricot Wilson MBA2019 & Deputy CEO at Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund


“Doing an MBA is a great opportunity to achieve a career switch. Leaving everything behind and starting a full time MBA, gives a great indication of the type of person you are – brave and willing to be challenged! My advice is to start networking and be clear about what you want to do. Recruiters are looking for consistency in the stories you tell. As you build towards this, your genuine interest in a career switch will appear more credible.”

– David Vinagre MBA2008 & International Proposition Director at Santander in London


“When looking for opportunities in the US, my background was received with curiosity. More along the lines of, ‘Wow, you lived in China.’ There was a novelty factor, but also an interest in the nuances of business in China. It helped me to stand out from competition in the market as you can really sell the China experience.”

– Patrick Harris MBA2020 & Investment Banking Associate at Macquarie Group in Houston


“My Mandarin language skills weren’t the best, so this did limit me in terms of the quantity of opportunities. If you are in a similar position, two actions can helpful – networking and practice. From my network, mainly playing basketball, I landed two or three job interviews. After graduation, I landed a job at Ford in Shanghai and what helped was practicing talking about the auto industry over and over.”

– Eric Powlick MBA 2014 & Director of Finance and Strategy at Athletic Greens in New York


“Leverage the Integrated China Strategy Project (ICSP) in terms 3 and 4. This is a live consulting project with a company in Shanghai that exposes you to constantly evolving challenges. My team worked with a local Chinese bank on a creative project for their credit card business.”

– Tian Tian, MBA2019 & Private Banker at JPMorgan in Hong Kong

James Kent
Michael Thede