Shaw (Investment and Finance MSc, 2012) talks about how the programme at the school of Economics and Finance prepared her for life after university.
What does working as an Assistant Client Liaison at Sotheby’s look like on a day-to-day basis? What made you choose your current role?
Working at Sotheby’s has been a true delight. I work with a variety of teams, spread out across the world, responsible for the marketing in China and financial service, meanwhile support the western art department for partial sales. For many people, working with rare art pieces is a dream, but it can also be a reality. Like most other fields, the art world involves a variety of different positions, and also some unique divisions, such as editorial, translation and specialist team.
During the day, I usually start my work by going over daily media coverage, and collaboratively planning my day. The most interesting part of this job is that there’s no “typical” day. For example, there is a weekly meeting. We go over everything for content planning, and effective digital media strategy, as auction house is adapting to the digital age, and shifting sales online so that global audiences can continue to engage with us. In addition to the writing work, preparing for an auction is probably the most interesting part of what we do. It can be a thematic sale with a number of works, or a single-owner collection. Basically, part of my job is to choose work that I think clients might be connected emotionally with, and then need to prepare more information on artist bios, and an analysis of price movements of the artwork. That is a really big part of what I do on a day-to-day basis.
When I graduated and was still undecided about how to make a career choice. I first started my job in wealth management in London. Following this, I moved back to Shanghai to work for a derivatives trading firm. Yet I began to realize that my career path was falling short of where I wanted it to lead. Whilst I may not have taken the ‘traditional’ career path, I am glad I took on previous roles because it led me to where I am now. The experience in finance and investing that I had gained previously gave me the opportunity to really determine my niche and find where my strengths could combine and I could excel.
With financial markets in turmoil, art is being considered an alternative asset class for investment a lot more. Seeing the transformation of the art business has been incredibly fascinating to me, and also my family and friends from the art world positively influenced me a lot. I knew this was something I wanted to be involved in, leading a new age, which excitingly will continue to evolve.
Can you tell me about a key turning point in your career?
My career has been unpredictable. As the years went by, I had the opportunity to work with some investment bankers, private equity and hedge fund managers, which provided me with a better understanding of the new ecosystem in China’s wealth management. Meanwhile, I noticed that art has quickly begun to emerge as an alternative asset class. So I was thinking I could combine my passion and expertise into one career. Luckily, I got the best advice I’ve ever received from my mentor. Shifting your career can be a risky decision, but it also acts as a new journey toward self-discovery.
Throughout my one-year study, I found that Queen Mary is more than a school, it’s a community-driven campus experience. The courses are not only designed to build knowledge and skills, but also to bring experience related to networking, and international perspectives.
How did your time studying Investment and Finance at Queen Mary equip you for life after university?
Throughout my one-year study, I found that Queen Mary is more than a school, it’s a community-driven campus experience. The courses are not only designed to build knowledge and skills, but also to bring experience related to networking, and international perspectives. In addition, our university has strong facilities. There is a dedicated Bloomberg trading room, giving us access to the financial data in the industry. Besides that, I met very supportive staff and my kind tutor Dr. Leonida who nurtured my interest in this subject and has supported me through my studies. Queen Mary enables us to notice the changes and developments happening on campus then and now.
Why did you choose to undertake an MSc in Investment and Finance? Why did you choose Queen Mary?
I chose Investment and Finance without the least hesitation. It was just a rational thought because of the reputation for academic excellence and the available research topics. It could be the best decision that I made in my life. The academic benefits are probably the main reason why I chose Queen Mary. Our degree will be recognized and respected, no matter where we end up being employed. The education also provides us with a solid background. Of course, I also love London, so Queen May was the obvious choice.
What’s a piece of advice which changed your perspective?
Believe you can, and you are halfway there. Having the motivation to do something can help you achieve your big goals and dreams. I got into Queen Mary and now I’ve got the job I love.
What advice would you give a current student or recent graduate considering their career options?
Being a new graduate can be an exciting time. Now many employers would prefer to work with people from diverse backgrounds and industries to solve important problems, which is a skill itself. I would suggest students focus on five aspects for outlining their career goals:
What was the most memorable thing about your time at Queen Mary?
I still remember my first day get on campus eight years ago, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and tranquillity of the campus, especially the secret Novo Cemetery. There were so many memorable things but the highlight was meeting my best friend in the class, and the midnight library revision sessions before exams.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, in or out of your field?
Paul Milgrom, Robert Wilson for improving the theory of how an auction works, and Helena Newman, the female auctioneer I work with.