Coming from a premier engineering institute, it becomes a tad bit tougher to enter the world of finance. Apart from the routine of explaining to people why I chose finance, the lack of an equally interested peer group also acts as a roadblock. I started developing my interest in finance in my 2nd year and I applied for a second major (in finance). Many fail to understand the point that textbooks just provide you a platform with raw concepts. Unless one learns to apply those in real life scenarios, they are quite meaningless.
My first professional experience was during my internship with IB division at J.P. Morgan Mumbai. I learned that understanding the financial statements and the logic behind every multiple used in performing any analysis is crucial. Post my internship at JP Morgan, I completed my Master’s thesis at the most prestigious B-school in India: IIM Ahmedabad. The thesis was aimed at analyzing a recent failed M&A deal in the global tire industry. While working on the thesis I had the opportunity to work on various aspects of M&A including the free cash flow based valuations. It as well involved analyzing the qualitative aspects like the legal and operational issues the parties faced in the failed deal. Gaining exposure to these was a different experience altogether.
It was during my thesis that I came across Project Firefly and the Emerging Leaders Competition. I was quite fascinated by the opportunity. The whole prospect of conveying your thoughts in form of an essay, getting judged by well-known professors was quite stimulating and guess what: there were few prizes too! I wrote my essay on the efficient markets hypothesis; it was well received and I was soon asked to be an Ambassador at Project Firefly. This was a defining moment for me. Next, I participated in the Holt Valuation Challenge and quite successfully learned an advanced valuation technique and gained access to the HOLT Lens™. I didn’t participate in 2nd round due to personal reasons but as I try to remember I was among the top 150 people after round 1. This was quite an achievement on its own for me. I have since then used HOLT Lens™ quite a lot in gaining an understanding of stocks that interest me. I usually compare my analysis to the market movements which helps me in acquiring a mature approach to analysis the next time.
It has been 7 months since I joined as an Analyst at BCC (an offshore unit of Bain & Company) in New Delhi. I have mainly worked on corporate finance cases to analyze the Shareholder returns for a company and its industry peers. All the practical experiences have helped me nurture a lot of skills that in turn have helped me insanely at my job. To all the peers/students who are looking to breakthrough in the financial world, I would advise to not only stick to their curriculum and textbooks. Go make an extra effort, learn how to apply the concepts you read. That is how you learn, how you succeed. It just takes an ‘extra’ effort to make an ordinary career into extra-ordinary. Project Firefly did the same for me and I am really grateful for the part they played in my career so far.