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School of Mathematical Sciences

Meet Mehnaz Ahmed and Adebola Ajao-Taiwo – From the School of Maths to Next Generation Investor 2021

In this blog post, we spoke to Mehnaz Ahmed and Adebola Ajao-Taiwo, BSc Mathematics with Actuarial Science students in their final year who are currently competing against London School of Economics, Imperial College Business School and University of Bath students to win the title of Next Generation Investor 2021. We are extremely proud to have an all-female team to represent Queen Mary at such a high-profile investment competition. Set up by Majedie Asset Management, this competition aims to address the industry-wide challenge of encouraging female undergraduates to consider a career in investment. Each team was given a notional £25,000 to invest in listed equities until 30 June 2021. The team with the best performance will be crowned winners and will receive a £5,000 donation to a charity of their choice. All profits made on the notional investments by each team will also be matched in real money by Majedie and donated to the team’s charity of choice.

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Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary University of London?

Queen Mary was our first choice when it came to picking universities. Its reputation and diversity, whether it be staff or students, speaks for itself. When we were initially researching university options, a recurrent comment was the fact that Queen Mary is a place where you make friends and connections that last a lifetime. We can definitely say that is true! Furthermore, the course offered by the School of Mathematical Sciences is a rare one, allowing us to get a firm grasp of the world of mathematics as well as working towards getting exemptions for IFoA. Very few universities in the UK give such a perfect mix.

How did you hear about the “Next Generation Investor 2021” competition and why did you decide to take part?

We came across this opportunity by pure chance while we were looking for possible career routes on the internet. We thought it would be a great way to experience this specific sector since we currently are on a journey to find out about possible career paths. We can interact with people who are expert within the industry and can provide us vital insight into deciding whether asset management is the right path for us.

We are halfway through this year’s competition. Can you please share with us insights on how it is going and what have been the milestones you have achieved so far?

It has been a bit rocky for us so far. The pandemic has negatively affected the stock market, and this has in turn affected our portfolio. However, this distortion has been a true learning opportunity for us as it gave us practical experience on the things we have learnt during our finance and asset management lectures. There is no flowery path, and we had to learn the hard way! It has also taught us that having clear boundaries is paramount if you want to be successful in the sector and you must behave in a way that is in favour of your clients. Having a firm grasp of certain investment strategies is something that was highlighted throughout the process, especially during the lecture-style workshops. This has taught us to be meticulous in our decision-making.

How did your interest in asset management start? What have you learned so far?

When it comes to the finance industry, the first thought that crosses people’s minds is "money, money, money". And yes, it plays a very big part in the industry. However, when we were researching asset management firms, a common notion that turned up frequently was that asset managers had a responsibility to make the everyday person financially free so that they can live their lives without financial restriction. This humane mindset was something that attracted us to delve deeper into the sector. So far, we have learned about the key indicators that must be taken into consideration before making an investment decision. This has taught us the importance of filtering and making decisions based on precise and well-thought beliefs and principles.

Which skills do you hope this competition will bring to your career development in the future?

We have noticed that effective communication skills have been the most important feature in the realm of asset management. The right tone, knowledge, and the ability to convey your thoughts, all form a part of being a good communicator. This competition has helped us improve our way of communicating by approaching our conversations in a precise and articulate manner. Researching beforehand was essential for our own development and made our discussions with our mentors more meaningful. Time management was another aspect that we had to perfect during the process. Being able to juggle university, home life, work as well as the competition has been particularly challenging for both of us. Because of the sheer volume of work, we made sure to have manageable targets. In order to accomplish those targets, we have been setting reminders, creating weekly timetables, and regularly communicating with each other. It has not been easy at all, but we are truly grateful for this opportunity because it has really tested our limits and push boundaries that we never knew existed.

We, at the School of Maths, would like to wish best of luck to Mehnaz and Adebola!