Ifeanyi Nweke joined the MSc in International Accounting & Finance. He is a recipient of the Total International Scholarship Award for the 2019/2020 Academic year. He shares his experience of the programme and advice for future international students.
Written on 19 November 2020.
I'm a first-class graduate of Business Administration from the University of Lagos (Nigeria) in November 2016. After that, I became a Graduate member (Chartered Accountant) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Then I worked with Lagos Business School as a research assistant for two years. My focus was in the area of finance and strategy. My main task include: contributing to writing academic papers and industrial research, working directly with the CEOs and CFOs of different companies to solve some of their most pertinent business challenges in Africa. I conducted research activities focused on Business competitiveness, Conflict of Interest, Executive decision-making practices in Africa, and also on listed companies in the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In August 2019, I enrolled in my Master's programme at EDHEC Business School, France.
To begin with, EDHEC is a top finance business school in Europe. When I was making my decision on business schools, I wanted to go to a top school in Europe and enroll in a course that fits with my future plans and my previous background. So EDHEC definitely because it's a top school.
Simply put, the curriculum and the breakdown of the programme was exactly what I was looking for. As an accountant, I wanted to go beyond accounting. I wanted a spice of corporate finance. The curriculum provided me all this.
Lastly, coming to France and the opportunity to learn a new language and experience a new culture were also something that I wanted to achieve with my Master's. EDHEC checked all the boxes.
I received the Total international scholarship award. It's a prestigious award awarded by Total in conjunction with the French embassy in Nigeria. It gives top academic students across the fields of Science, Engineering, Business and Management, and Social Science to pursue a fully funded Master’s degree in any top Business School in France. I received the award in the spring of 2019 after going through the rigorous selection process. The scholarship really gives Nigerian students the opportunity to experience French culture. You're not just coming for a Master’s degree, you're coming to have an international immersion into the French culture.
I would say great professors with vast academic and industry experience. We had amazing professors. It's no longer news that the professor who taught me Operations Management in the second semester is currently the Minister of Finance of Belgium. We also have various professionals who teach courses, several of them were from PwC to handle the core accounting courses. It brought a very practical perspective to learning. We were not just learning theories but taught by people who have professional experience and understand in detail what they're talking about.
Other highlights are the International Students Office (ISO) and the Career Centre. Those two offices were highly beneficial to me as an international student: making my journey very seamless. When you come to France, there are so many things you need to know and you need to do, the ISO handled that. When it comes to looking for an internship or a job, the Career Center gave me all the necessary assistance and push to secure an internship or a job offer in Europe.
Also, the geographical representations of students were very large. In my MSc, we belonged to about 15 different nationalities. It was really interesting to be in a class and do group work with teammates from multiple cultures.
The major difference is the pedagogy. At EDHEC, the teaching is not just theoretical, the classes and workshops were very hands-on, very practical. Also, EDHEC offers diversity in terms of international representation. At the University of Lagos, we were mostly Nigerians.
Apart from academics, the international network of friends and connections. I have a friend in almost 50 percent of the countries in the world thanks to EDHEC. That's the most valuable takeaway for me, having the opportunity to meet new people and build a lasting relationship with them.
Also, I have built the practical skills relevant to the industry in Accounting, M&A and Modeling classes. In my internship, I use some of those skills that I sharpened through the MSc, especially model development and the usage of analytical tools.
There were a lot! I would say financial modeling, process automation modelling, using certain tools such as Tableau, Python or R. From an accounting perspective, it would be financial analysis. As an accountant, I was exposed to financial analysis but my experience at EDHEC, given the professors were very practical. In class, we would analyze 10k and 8k reports of US companies. We gain a very practical view of the theories. It’s very crucial. In our M&A classes, we went through the entire process from both the Buy-side and Sell-side perspective, with real projects throughout the semester.
As for the soft skills I have acquired, I would say teamwork, networking and communication, and living in the midst of a diverse community.
I work for Amazon Luxembourg within the GPS finance (EU Trans FP&A Team) as a Business Analyst intern from Nice because of the Covid situation. I mainly work on report development, model development, and financial planning. I worked on the financial reporting angle for the first two months and then I transitioned into financial planning where I mainly work on financial models and process automation models.
Due to the Covid situation, I was unable to go to Luxembourg. But the company is well prepared, we have all the resources we need to work effectively. You still have direct and regular human interaction with our teammates and colleagues online. Overall, the experience is great.
I want to get to the top as a Financial Analyst in a top tech company. I strongly believe that technology is going way beyond what we already know. In the long term, I personally have an aspiration to work on African Development by creating a company or working with a private equity or venture capital company that works on African Development. As the EDHEC motto says, I want to have an impact in the African continent.
Network, impact and amazing!
Hangouts with my friends and course mates from the MSc on Fridays before Covid-19.
Network, network, network! As international students, you have to integrate yourself, meet people, have conversations, really try to come out of your shell. Make very good use of the ISO and the Career Centre. Because a good use of these two offices in conjunction with your academic programme will make your life super easy. You will get all the information for registering for your health insurance, your housing, your CAF, etc. The Career Centre office regularly organized company networking sessions and events that will help you interact with companies and secure a position. The Career Centre really did a fantastic job.