The Finance Society’s Event of the Year
Written by Dina Ghanma
“Life begins at 50!” is something those who know me well have definitely heard me say at least once. “Before 50, you’re just struggling for ‘success’, but at 50, things start looking up” was my justification. A bit too pessimistic? Perhaps. But fortunately, our recent guests at the ICMA Centre have probably proved me wrong!
Three successful under-30s
Last Thursday, the Finance Society at the University of Reading held a members-only talk presented by three professionals under the age of 30 that have achieved success very early in their financial careers: Lucas Kollmann, who joined as the youngest analyst in Blackstone’s European office, Soheil Mirpour, one of the most junior hires at KKR, and Christian Schröder, who became a Director of a major Venture Capital fund in his mid-twenties. The successful trio not only remained best friends after having attended the same university, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany, but also created a three-part talk on Structured Success Management under the acronym of “KMS” which they present to university audiences all over Europe on a pro-bono basis. I was lucky enough to attend their event here at the ICMA Centre, and I’m writing this blog to tell you all about the wonderful experience…
Hands: Planning and execution
After an introduction by the President of the Finance Society, Victor Ferrat, Soheil Mirpour took the stage and thanked the Society for their dedication and professionalism in organising the event (and he also commended ICMAC’s modern facilities and fancy lecture theatre, which is always great to hear!). Soheil’s segment was what the trio refer to as the “hands” aspect of their talk, dealing with planning and execution. It was all about how success is not “an arbitrary outcome” of random decisions, but an end goal that can only be achieved through proper planning and effective execution. Soheil urges us to identify what our “big vision” is, and then plan smart to figure out how we can get there from where we are today. Soheil also reminded us that there is a lot of silent work that goes into those loud moments of visible success, so we should never underestimate the need for consistent effort when the spotlight is off.
Mind: Making the right decisions and creating opportunities
Next up was Christian Schröder whose “mind” segment was about how best to make the right decisions and create opportunities. He draws a likeness between decision-making and investing since the former is indeed an “investment of time and resources”, requiring careful judgement and critical evaluation, both ex-ante and ex-post. One of Christian’s core views is that we should increase the number of opportunities available to us through actively increasing our awareness of them, as well as “increasing the number of trials” towards achieving a goal. This will help us “take ‘luck’ out of the equation to a very large degree” and become “more in control of our own success”.
Mouth: Building a network
Last but not least was Lucas Kollmann who spoke to us about networking, i.e. the “mouth” aspect. Lucas shared with the audience many tips and tricks on how to make contacts and very importantly, keep them! He emphasises the value of building strong relationships and establishing trust with the people you encounter – be it at university, in an internship or even at an “awesome party”. Lucas warns us, however, that we need to give ourselves a USP – unique selling proposition – to be able to offer a contact “more value than the average of his or her network” and become part of their community.
Overall, the event was a great hit! One of the elements that made it so was the speakers’ brilliant ability to keep us fully focused and interested. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here’s what some of the audience members thought of the presentation…
“I’ve been to a lot of similar talks, but this one definitely stands out because the speakers back up their advice with really great relatable examples.” Christopher, Masters Student in International Securities, Investment and Banking
“It was great to meet people who are currently working in the industry. It was a lot more than just theory in a lecture. Plus, they all had such excellent presentation skills!” Irene, Masters Student in Law
“[The talk was] very rich in quality! They were so engaging! Definitely not something you can just find in a book.” Omar, Bachelors Student in Finance and Investment Banking
Speaking of books… wouldn’t it be great if these guys wrote a book that brings together all their inspirational advice and expands on the insights they shared in their enlightening talk? Ask and you shall receive! The trio are actually in the process of designing a book on Structured Success Management and are hoping to publish within a year, so keep your eyes open for that. To stay posted, sign-up for KMS’s newsletter here.
This event would not have been possible without the initiative taken by the President of the Finance Society, Victor Ferrat, so here’s a word from him…
“I really do believe in the importance of networking, so I was just on LinkedIn looking for Private Equity professionals whom I can contact and learn from, and I came across Soheil’s profile. I sent him a private message introducing myself, and not only was he kind enough to reply, but he also offered to share his advice and that of his friends with more of my fellow students in Reading. One thing led to another, and we set up a KMS success talk at the ICMA Centre. The organisation of this event was very demanding, but it was definitely worth it. We are incredibly pleased that these professionals went out of their way to share their knowledge with us and help us achieve our goals. To think that all this started with a simple message! We are very grateful to Soheil, Christian and Lucas for their visit and hope they enjoyed their time with us. We would also like to thank the ICMA Centre and Ms. Leanne Ley for facilitating this evening and making it the success that it was.”
To conclude, the talk was jam-packed with eye-opening perceptions and practical advice, but perhaps what resonated with me the most was the general tone of success being absolutely achievable! It all comes down to being honest with yourself, discovering where your true strengths lie and applying yourself in the most effective way to make your ambitions a reality… even if you’re not in your 50’s yet!
[Photo Credits: Emmanuel D’Arifat, a devoted member of the Finance Society.]