Shivani Gajulapalli, Senior Consultant, Finmechanics, Netherlands

A bit about yourself

I am a 2016 Civil Engineering Undergraduate, working as a Senior Consultant at Finmechanics in Amsterdam. Ever since I was a kid, I was fascinated by Maths. After coming to Insti, I wanted to pursue this interest of mine – Math and Logic. I did not see many opportunities in the core industry aligned with Civil Engineering unless I go into research. So, that’s when I thought of exploring other things that align my interests. I started coding and liked the mathematical and logical aspects involved, and got to know that there’s a lot of demand in the Industry. I focused mainly on finding opportunities to apply and expand my knowledge. After interacting with seniors, I learned about the importance of the ‘Data structures and Algorithms’ course, which I audited in my 2nd year. My minor was also in “Mathematics in Computer Science.” In coding also, there were many aspects – software development, simulations, etc. I tried to pursue winter projects in Insti (You have to please the professors to get one; they usually think that students take up projects for the sake of improving their resume!) and aligned my summer internships to explore my coding interest.

How did you get introduced to finance?

I did not know a lot about finance until my final year. I had heard a lot about finance and how companies come for quant roles in placements (which need math and logic and coding), but these companies don’t expect you to have prerequisites in finance. Seniors advised me to read newspapers like ET and start following current affairs, but I found it too intimidating. I got selected for a two-day workshop – ‘Women in Finance’ conducted by Goldman Sachs, and that’s where I saw the potential of logic and math in finance. In my placement sem, I learned that Finmechanics is coming for placements, and I was delighted after seeing their presentation and found their profile unique. Prior knowledge of finance was not necessary for the role; this is different from banks like JP Morgan, where they hire for equity research analyst roles to understand finance. Finmechanics believes that Finance knowledge can be acquired while working in the job. After getting placed into Finmechanics, I did the NCFM certification to gain some knowledge. CFA was also an option, but it’s too expensive for students and requires one to spend quite a lot of time preparing for it. After joining Finmechanics, I did CFA out of interest.

How has your journey in Finmechanics been?

Let me start by talking a bit about Finmechanics. It’s a technology consulting company. We provide services and products to Financial Institutions – banks, NBFCs, etc. Many people in Insti think that Finmechanics profile is similar to profiles offered by banks like Goldman Sachs, but that’s not true. You need to interact with clients and get things done; there’s a lot of project management, Implementation Consulting; this makes the role unique. This differs from the management consulting positions in companies like BCG, Bain & consulting, etc. We consult the financial markets and Risk Management divisions in the banks. Finmechanics has a very flexible work culture.

I was able to get exposure to a lot of things. In my first year, I was doing coding and quant finance. In a subsequent project, I was the project manager (my first project management experience). Responsibility is thrown at the employees quite early on in Finmechanics, and newcomers get to do everything from coding to interacting with clients and understanding their needs. I got an opportunity to move to Amsterdam from Mumbai, and currently, I’m working as a technical lead, where I manage the development and implementation of a module. Since this is a relatively small company in terms of the people employed, work hours are flexible but varies from project to project. Finmechanics demands problem-solving skills and the zeal to figure things out on yourself. It is easy to switch between roles internally, provided that you’ve proven that you have the required skills.

Are you planning to do an MBA?

I was never really drawn towards an MBA. I’m happy with what I’m doing now, and I see enough growth. I have no plans to do an MBA as of now. To grow in Finmechanics, an MBA is not essential. Everything is learned in the job itself.

Exit opportunities

People usually go for MBA in foreign universities or join product teams in banks. This is a very direct exit opportunity. If you’re joining a product team in a bank, you’ll be able to use most of your skillset, but even if you want to do something completely different, nothing is stopping you. The skills that you’re developing in Finmechanics will help you everywhere.

How has the pandemic affected the Industry you’re working in? Does finmechanics see any reflection on its business?

When the markets are dicy, the focus is more towards risk management, and when they are performing well, the focus is towards trading, and since we are a product consulting company, I think that we are pretty hedged. At this point, it is too early to say.

Advice to students:

I think people in Insti give a lot of importance to PORs. Yes, they give you a lot of exposure and teach teamwork, but don’t do it just for your resume or peer pressure. Try and work on what interests you, take up projects, work with some professors, or find internships. Insti is the perfect place for trying out different things because the stakes are less. I focused on things that interested me; I focused more on projects and more intensive courses.

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