“The one word I would use to describe my experience at Oxford has to be ‘Immersive’”, Abhinav said with a smile growing on his face.
He is a Senior Investment Analyst at Ventureast, a venture capital fund in Bangalore, and has completed his MSc in Financial Economics from the University of Oxford. Prior to this, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sri Venkateswara College in Delhi University. Abhinav’s academic journey is inspirational to several aspiring students out there.
“The decision to study Economics had been driven by interest though in hindsight Computer Science and Economics would have been an ideal combination.”
During his undergraduate degree, Abhinav completed a couple of internships including a volunteering project in Poland with AIESEC. By his third year, he was fairly certain he wanted to undertake a Masters’s degree and he started highlighting programs he could target and gave his GRE.
“I was pretty firm on my decision to pursue a Master’s Degree and having secured a decent score in GRE, the path had been outlined precisely. However, I wanted to get some professional experience before my masters to provide much needed context and improve my chances of getting an offer in the UK..”
He bagged a consulting role with KPMG in his second year in college and worked with tje firm for a year before leaving for his Masters degree. Abhinav took the first level of the CFA as well in this period before his Masters, as he was especially keen on exploring opportunities in Investment Management.“The odds are stacked against you as an international student looking for a job abroad. In the current global environment firms don’t provide visa sponsorship unless you’re a perfect fit, or come with warm recommendations. Prior work experience in the same sector or internationally recognized certifications certainly help. “
“In the end, my heart was set on going to Oxford.”
Abhinav applied to the MSc in Financial Economics at Oxford due to the rich history of the. university, the academic rigor of the program, and the global network that it provided. Masters in Financial Economics(MFE) alumni from Oxford who he contacted highly recommended the program to him as well. “It is an extremely rigorous 9 months at Oxford. The year goes by in a flash. You are constantly balancing the stress of academics and job applications while trying to make the most of the opportunities afforded to you by the University”.
Another highlight of the Oxford experience was access to the Oxford Union. Union members get to attend talks from imminent speakers across the world. “ It was surreal to think about the quality of speakers we had access to. I made the most of the membership, often attending 2-3 talks a week.”
Upon asking him to speak of his career and professional milestones through and post Oxford, Abhinav recalled a diverse set of experiences giving us an insider view on how he made long term decisions, and the challenges he overcame during the process.
While in the UK, Abhinav interned at the Global Equities desk at Aberdeen Standard Investments and worked with Oxera Counsulting, an economic consulting firm advising government bodies and corporations on finance and economic issues. “My internship at Aberdeen helped me work closely with experienced fund managers and I learnt to develop a framework to build a bottom-up understanding of a company. While at Oxera, I got to use my knowledge of econometric modeling and learnt to provide solutions backed by concrete financial data,” he stated.
Abhinav was keen on exploring his interest in the intersection of tech and finance. A few cold calls to various Fintech firms then led him to Wanchain, an early-stage startup working on blockchain technology. He took on multiple roles while working there, which included working closely on growing the business via strategic partnerships, building the product as well as sourcing and evaluating startups for their incubator which funded companies building apps on their blockchain infrastructure.
This experience working closely with entrepreneurs at an early-stage incubator was an eye-opening experience that led him to the world of venture capital. “The opportunity to meet entrepreneurs building exciting new solutions for a large market like our country was extremely exciting” . He took up an internship with Morningside, a Chinese Venture Capital fund looking to enter the Indian market.
As of today, Abhinav works as a Senior Investment Analyst at a tech-focused venture capital fund called VentureEast in Bangalore. At VenturEast, he is responsible for building investment theses for various sectors, sourcing tech startups looking to raise capital and assess them based on their fit to these theses and recommend them for investment. Post investment, the fund plays a role in assisting their start-ups as an advisor and helps with tasks such as hiring and fundraising.
On career advice for college students…
When asked whether one should always have a clear cut plan in life, Abhinav emphasises the value in setting medium term goals that you are excited to work towards. “The best thing one can do in university is speak to people who are doing the kind of work you think you’d like to be doing in the medium term.” Having a clear cut goal makes the profile building process easier as you have an unambiguous idea of the skills and internships you need.
When asked about what advice he would give to undergrads in terms of profile building, he stressed the importance of professional experience. “For those academically inclined, a Master’s program is an easy decision. However, if you’re looking to do a Master’s abroad to get a job in the country, work experience before your masters, preferably at a globally recognized brand, is highly recommended.” Abhinav recommends contacting career services months prior to the start of the program, as they can connect you with alumni working in the areas you are targeting.
Advice for students on dealing with the pandemic and the poor environment for jobs and internships
“It is okay to not be interning at the moment. Just understand that it is a consequence of the situation. What you can do is to broaden the list of firms you are targeting and have conversations with people. You never know what may work out”
He advises students to look for jobs in niches they hadn’t previously considered. For example, the pandemic has led to significant growth for startups in the digital health and education sectors. Further, it is valuable to be well researched before cold-emailing companies and to be thinking about the value one can add. Mentioning these skills creatively would improve your chances of receiving a response.