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Life after graduation: Chat with NUGSB alumni


Life after graduation: Chat with NUGSB alumni

Four years ago, the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program was launched at the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business. During this time, more than seventy students have completed the program successfully.

We trying to be constantly in touch with our alumni. We want to know what they are doing after graduation, what changes are taking place in their lives and whether the knowledge gained at the Graduate School of Business helps them achieve their goals.

This time, several alumni of the MSF program took the time to chat with us and tell us about themselves. We have interviewed Aida Kadyrbayeva, MSF 2018 cohort, Yerassyl Kanapyanov, MSF 2018 cohort, Assiya Utzhanova, MSF 2019 cohort, and Talgat Zharkynbay, MSF 2021 cohort.

1. Tell us about yourself, your experience, background and interests

Aida: In 2017 I completed bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at NU. Then I decided to try myself at the NU Business School - I joined MSF program, Class of 2018, what I was very happy about. Interests are very different - books, music, travel, mountains, sports.

Yerassyl: My name is Yerassyl. I am an alumnus of MSF2018 cohort. Currently, I work in a Finance field with the focus on M&A projects. My main interests are football, chess and financial modeling.

Assiya: I am an alumnus of MSF2019 cohort. I decided that I want to study finance when I was at school. I graduated from Nazarbayev Intellectual School. Then, I got a bachelor's degree in finance at KBTU. While studying at the university we participated in various case championships, scientific research and social life. Finally, I continued my education at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business on a Master of Science in Finance program.

Talgat: my name is Talgat. I studied at Nazarbayev University and have a bachelor's degree in economics. After graduation, I immediately entered to the MSF program at the NU Graduate School of Business.

2. What have you been currently doing?

Aida: I work at the National Bank, Department of Payment Systems.

Yerassyl: Currently I work at KPMG as consultant. Most of the time I am involved in M&A and Valuation projects. I support clients both on sell side and buy side or acquire shares in the company. Moreover, we do the valuation of the companies, prepare respective presentations, etc.

Assiya: I work at the National Bank.

Talgat: For the last 4 months, I used to work at Zhusan Invest as an analyst in the asset management department. Now I am working at the National Bank.

3. Why did you decide to enter the Master of Science in Finance program?

Aida: In the 3rd -4th years of studies on bachelor's degree, I was very interested in finance, especially after participating in the AIESEC volunteer program. When I was on the presentation of the MSF program and I could not resist to apply for the MSF program after a great presentation by Richard Castleberry.

Yerassyl: After completing my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, I decided to apply for Master’s degree in a different field to try out something new. So, back in 2017 I have encountered marketing campaign of MSF program, which felt appealing to me due to intense program with variety of classes, career weeks and 2 residencies in Almaty and London. This program was really standing out from other master’s degree programs. Moreover, it was launched jointly with National Bank of Kazakhstan, which was offering jobs for students after completion of the program. Therefore, I decided to apply and fortunately earned scholarship. Now I feel happy that I have gone through this journey as one of the first alumnus of MSF program.

Assiya: I have always been interested in finance, and I decided to look for opportunities to deepen my knowledge and skills in this area.

Talgat: It seemed to me that I lacked practical knowledge in the field of finance, unfortunately we do not have an undergraduate program in finance, so I decided to enroll in a master's degree in finance to deepen and expand my knowledge.

4. Tell us about your experience during the training? What is your favorite professor and subject?

Aida: At the beginning, it was a little difficult to get used to the structure and the fast track program.
Shortly speaking, I love all subjects. It is difficult to single out a specific professor, because all of them were professionals in their field, they presented material in a clear and engaging way.

Yerassyl: In my opinion, our MSF program was challenging and full of exciting moments. Today I miss our old days at GSB, all those events and happy faces of my groupmates with whom I have a lot of warm memories. The program was intense and offered variety of finance, business and other subjects. I remember those tight deadlines and all night studies with my groupmates to earn those SP and HP grades. I would like to thank all the professors who have taught me finance subjects and gave an opportunity to raise my knowledge in finance from basic to advanced levels. My favorite professor was Thierry Post. I still remember all those things that he taught us during his classes. He was capable of delivering high-quality content, so that everyone could understand the subject and raise their interests in investments and finance. However, my favorite subject was Financial modeling taught by Marek Jochec. This subject was full of real-world examples and practices, so that it helped me to find out my current path in Finance field. Now I do the financial modeling professionally and still love it.

Assiya: Each subject was interesting in its own way. In terms of complexity and volume, I would like to mention two subjects: Private Equity by Professor T. Post, and Advanced Corporate Finance by Professor Adelino.

Talgat: Regarding the training program, it was very intensive. At the beginning, it was quite difficult, but gradually you begin to get used to teamwork and huge homework assignments. My favorite subject was econometrics, taught by Professor Doron Israeli.

5. How has your life and professional activity changed after graduation?

Aida: The direction of my professional activity completely changed, I started working in the field of finance, engineering remained, so to speak, on the sidelines.
On the program, I met very interesting bright people - classmates with different backgrounds, professors who somehow influenced me. Besides professional, I received invaluable life experience.

Yerassyl: First of all, MSF allowed me to join my first work. At GSB we had career weeks that allowed us to attend guest lectures of different industry professionals from top companies in Kazakhstan. In one of those career weeks I had a chance to attend the guest lecture of managing partners from local consulting firm “Center for Strategic Initiatives”. I got interested in consulting and had a chance to apply for internship after the lecture. Eventually, I got my internship and after a month of work I got an offer from my first employer after the MSF program. Moreover, I have met other GSB alumni who were already working in the company. I still have great relationship with them. Therefore, I would like to thank MSF program and all the staff working at GSB for offering such opportunities for students!

Assiya: All the knowledge I gained was very useful for me. I am glad that I can apply this knowledge in my work. This is a good help for my further professional development and career growth. There is no doubt that wide career and professional opportunities are open before me after the end of the program. Working at the National Bank, we apply everything that we have learned in the program.

Talgat: There is no doubt that after the successful completion of the program, my CV became more prominent and viewed by various companies. For example, it was easy for me to pass the interview at Zhusan Invest and find a job there. This program helps to become more competitive in the labor market, even without significant work experience.

6. Do you keep in touch with your classmates and with the NU community?

Aida: Of course, I do my best to keep the communications with them. With some classmates we work together, and with others we became good friends.

Yerassyl: Yes, I try to maintain relationships with my groupmates. Moreover, some of my groupmates work together and see each other almost every day. However, at these times it is difficult to meet and talk with each other due to COVID-19 presence. Therefore, I usually text or call people nowadays.

Assiya: Of course, after the end of the program, we maintain the excellent relationship that we have developed with my classmates. We always try to find out what is happening in the life of each of us, we support each other. I believe that our strong friendship will last a lifetime.

Talgat: Yes, we maintain close relationships on an ongoing basis. We trying to see each other once a week. After the start of the program, we created a WhatsApp group, where we communicate and plan our meetings.

7. What are your further professional plans?

Aida: I can't say for sure, but I'm considering continuing my studies.

Yerassyl: In the long-term horizon I would like to focus on M&A sector and be an expert in this field. I would like to maintain my finance background, pursue career in this direction and become C-level professional.

Assiya: I will continue my work in the National Bank.

Talgat: I am supposed to work for the next 3 years at the National Bank, and at the same time, I would like to start studying programming, read topics related to data science, and considering to get a second master's degree, even remotely.

8. What would you like recommend to candidates who applying to the NU GSB?

Aida: First of all, I wish future students of NU GSB to enjoy the learning process, communication with classmates. I wish you not to be afraid and be positive (especially during exams). I also advise you to be open to everything new, and ready for different life situations.

Yerassyl: I would like to recommend GSB programs to all those candidates that are willing to go through an intense and exciting journey, be a part of business community and acquire high-quality knowledge and connections.

Assiya: GSB creates holistic programs that provide in-depth knowledge that opens up many opportunities for growth. Moreover, this is a large community where you can get mentors and friends!

Talgat: For the future candidates who applying to the MSF program, I recommend to have some basic knowledge in the finance area and be ready for intensive work after entering the program. This will help you in the selection process, on the interview with professors. It is also very important to be prepared for exams, specifically for GMAT; a cover letter is also important.