Anne went from studying in Groningen in The Netherlands to landing her job in finance in London at BlackRock. She did a Bachelor’s degree in Econometrics in Groningen and Masters Quantitative Finance in Rotterdam (writing her thesis at an asset management firm). During her bachelors, she joined several associations, followed by a board year at her study association and during her Masters she was part of an investment team. After her studies she did an internship within digital strategy consulting and in private equity. She just joined BlackRock as an analyst within portfolio management in the Liability Driven Investment (LDI) business.

Thank you for your time Anne. As I am studying Econometrics in Groningen myself now and on my way to finding out which career suits me best, I am interested in how you got interested in pursuing a career in finance?

Anne: When I started studying Econometrics, my motivation for the study came from my interest in mathematics rather than finance. During high school, I didn’t even have economics as an elective. However, throughout my Bachelor’s, I noticed that courses focused on financial topics interested me the most. In addition to that, during my board year I got the opportunity to meet a lot of companies within my role as external affairs. The challenges financial companies focused on caught my attention. So, I started reading books and financial newspapers and started to do research on the different career opportunities in finance. My interest in finance and the conversations with my network and fellow students eventually led to my choice of the Master Quantitative Finance. 

What did you do during your studies to make sure your resume is ‘finance proof’?

Anne: First of all, the choice of my master’s already indicated my preference for finance. Secondly, I invested in gaining experience, both with extra-curricular activities and internships. 

I believe that being part of an investment team and gaining experience through internships helped me to show my affinity with finance on my resume. But, it also definitely allowed me to figure out whether I am genuinely interested in finance or not. In the end, the different experiences helped me to better support my interest in working within the financial sector. 

You did several internships, in different fields in finance. Would you advise this to other women as well?

Anne: This might differ a lot per person, I had no idea what I wanted so this helped me in figuring out what I really like. For others, it might be already more clear from the start of their studies in which field they want to work.

Nevertheless, I would suggest diversifying as much as possible. Whereas my studies had always been very theoretical and less result-focused, my internships introduced me to topics I would not have been able to learn during my studies. Although it might feel great to do an internship where you can confirm your initial ideas of what you like and what you don’t like, an internship also can prove you otherwise and give you new insights on your interests. This does not have to be limited to a sector but also includes what type of company and culture you like to work in.  

You did an internship in Amsterdam and you are now working in London. Do you experience any major differences between the corporate cultures in Amsterdam and London?

Anne: I don’t think that there is a very clear answer to this question as each company is unique and has its own culture. For instance, the size or philosophy of a company can make a huge difference too. However, one thing I did notice since I moved to London is that Dutch people can be quite direct compared to other nationalities and we might not even realize this. Moving abroad enabled me to become more aware of myself and to work with different types of people, which is something I enjoy.

Do you have a role model that really inspires you in the financial sector? And how important was this for you during your studies?

Anne: During my studies, I didn’t know a lot of other women that were interested in finance and decided to move abroad for their first job. I simply didn’t come across them. 

However, I do believe a role model can lead as an example and therefore, can be an inspiration for you. At my current job, I am starting to meet more women through initiatives such as mentoring programs. These programs bring me in contact with ambitious women who share their experiences. Their career paths really inspire me and are helpful in getting a better understanding of the different career opportunities in the future.

Looking back, is there anything you would tell your 18 year old self? 

Anne: “Having a broad interest in a lot of topics is not a bad thing.” Although it might seem nice to be able to narrow your preferences down to one field or sector you are most keen on, this does not have to be the case for you. I have spent quite some time during my studies trying to figure out what really sparked my interest, which can be quite frustrating sometimes when there are so many opportunities. However, in the end it is all worth it when you find the job that suits your interests best. And what I found, even though this might not be obvious from the beginning, it is possible to combine several topics of interest in your job.

Do you have any final tips for students interested in a career in finance in either Amsterdam or London next to doing internships? 

Anne: Talk to a lot of people and read a lot of (financial related) books. Most people are always willing to tell you more about their job, and reaching out to these people can give you a lot of information you will not be able to find anywhere else. Secondly, reading books broadens your financial vocabulary as well as your knowledge of historical financial events, which is not only interesting but also a lot of fun.

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BlackRock, Inc. is an American multinational investment management corporation based in New York City. Founded in 1988, initially as a risk management and fixed income institutional asset manager, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with US$10 trillion in assets under management as of January 2022. BlackRock operates globally with 70 offices in 30 countries and clients in 100 countries. (Wikipedia)