AFAM: Hello, Imane, and thank you for this interview. You have been working as Associate in Credit Suisse in NYC for 5 years. What is your every day job? Could you tell us more, please?
Imane: I am part of the Corporate Development - Group Strategy and M&A team. Our team reports to the CEO office with dotted reporting into the CFO as well, and we get involved in either Management Consulting/Strategy projects (e.g. Credit Suisse wants to enter a new market or develop a new product, what is the opportunity and path forward; assist senior management in setting the strategic objectives of the bank and divisions and identify areas of growth and restructuring etc.); as well as M&A transactions that involve Credit Suisse Group or one of its entities as a principal.
AFAM: How and when did you develop interest in finance? I see that one of your first internships took place at Societe Generale as Assistant Trader. Is it how you got started in finance?
Imane: This first internship was indeed my first experience with Finance that confirmed my interest in pursuing afterwards a Master in Financial Engineering at NYU and led me joining Credit Suisse.
AFAM: Why did you choose working in finance? What inspires you in this sector?
Imane: I would say that my attraction originated from the fact that I saw Finance and especially Markets as an applied math’s field and I was always passionate about Mathematics. It's also a field that has such great impact on our daily lives and the evolution of societies that I couldn't imagine not understanding those intricacies. Finally, I also had numerous close examples amongst my family and friends that pursued careers in Finance so I had a pretty good idea of the working environment and the career development opportunities.
AFAM: What challenges do you face in your job?
Imane: I would say the biggest challenge is that every project and transaction is often a new topic, business model, market or product and our team's value and expectations from our internal stakeholders reside in being able to grasp complex concepts in a short amount of time and think through situations in a structured and thorough way to propose solutions and make recommendations to senior management. But that's also what makes it exciting, even more so because we cover all Credit Suisse businesses and geographies. Another challenge is being able to manage and get a handle over large scale projects or transactions that are often cross-regional and cross-divisional in nature and thus bring their fair share of internal politics...
AFAM: Imane, what piece of advice could you give to our students willing to get started in finance, for instance, those who would like to come to the US in 2021 to pursue a financial internship?
Imane: I think being able to land an internship without having been through the US education system is though in the US for US or UK banks. However, French banks offer VIEs and that's an amazing opportunity in itself. I would advise that if someone is looking for an internship in Finance while at Arts et Métiers, that they target the UK off-cycle internship programs that are used to recruiting outside of the UK universities.
For those currently completing programs in US universities, I would advise to prepare/apply early-on for interviews (as soon as the fall semester starts, decisions are made by December/January for the next summer internships or graduate programs); focus on behavioral questions and on projecting a level of confidence that equates that of US students (I don't think it comes as naturally to us); take advantage of networking opportunities through your college and really put yourself out there, and read the news and Finance articles if not already a habit. Finally, if you are looking to pursue a career in Markets more specifically, I would encourage you to learn coding in at least one language as I think this is a mainstream skill nowadays and truly believe it will always be useful in the most unexpected ways even if you don't use it on a daily basis and will make a big difference.
AFAM: We can just add to his one thing: apply for our Shasta program to find a mentor and advice from AFAM if you want to find an internship in the US in 2021. Imane, thank you for your time and have a nice day!
Photo: courtesy of Imane
More interviews in our "Financial Engineering" series:
Interview with Sacha Ghebali (Bo 211)
Interview with Jean-Rodolphe Guis (Bo 99)