From St. Petersburg to St. Gallen.
Ekaterina Nazarova, a graduate of School of Economics and Management, the winner of St. Gallen Business, Harvard Case Challenge winner, and current master’s student at the “Banks and Finance” programme of University of St. Gallen, talks about master course in Switzerland, studies on the Economics programme and foreign travel.
- I have always studied well, and I got to the bachelor programme of “Economics” according to the results of the Olympiad. I studied two semesters in Austria and Germany on Erasmus + scholarship, and for now, I am finishing my master’s at the Switzerland university, where I got under a grant.
In my third year, I was writing my course paper, devoted to the topic of M&A, under the consultancy of professor Elena Rogova. The paper was presented on the “International GSOM Emerging Markets Conference”. And after, under Professor Rogova guidance I was writing my thesis about factors affecting on the success of merges and acquisitions of Russian acquiring companies. Elena is a great supervisor and she has always been a role model for me.
I have always wanted to study abroad. In my third year, I made a list of schools which took high positions in rankings, and I made my choice by process of elimination comparing universities’ merits and demerits as well as by considering my personal preferences. Switzerland had several advantages: relatively affordable education, my German language proficiency, the country itself and scholarships. I seek for advices from my research supervisor and from students from the universities where I planned to apply. St. Gallen seemed the best option to me, I successfully passed GMAT and was accepted to the university providing me with scholarship.
Studying in Switzerland master’s programme differs in that students make their own schedules; all the subjects are optional and there is an opportunity to attend classes without being obliged to sit an exam. The study is more independent and reading of 600 pages’ book or a dozens of scientific articles is a normal preparation to an exam. There are courses aimed at leadership qualities development or at general education. I took programming, blogging, arts and renewable energy. The range of courses is extremely wide and some of them imply studying trips, like, for example, in Singapore, Great Britain, Brazil.
- Where would you like to work?
- I have already worked in finance, for example, in hedge fund in Madrid and in Goldman Sachs in Frankfurt. I preferred the first one more, I mean buy-side investments. Also, I like new technologies, so I am ready to work in a venture fund. But I want to launch my own business in the future.
- What third language would you recommend learning to students?
- It depends on someone’s purposes, but, in my opinion, it is German. Germany has a big economy as well as relatively clear migration rules. There are free education and lack of labour force in numerous sectors. Two more countries except Germany speak German – Austria and Switzerland. Since German belongs to the same language branch that English, it is easier to learn it.
- What caught your memory about HSE?
- The modernity of the university, the use of technologies, and the fact that the teachers themselves had a mindset to keep up to dates. It was different with a lot of friends of mine, who studied in other universities. Students are provided with full access to the course presentations, so there is no need to read the text from the paper sheet during the lectures, some classes held in English. English language, which I finally learned in Saint Petersburg campus of HSE, helped me significantly, because we read and told a lot about economics in English (which is also useful for general knowledge). Optional language courses are also important, since it was the university where I began to learn German.
Period of the study was memorable because of the opportunity to participate in the university’s life (Olympics, scientific laboratories, volunteering projects, projects with different companies), friendly environment, and meetings with new interesting people.
I would also like to highlight career prospective. An employer frequently pointed in job vacancies description: “a student from the leading universities”, and then he or she named the universities. HSE has always been in this list.
Bologna system indeed works here. I liked a lot the system of credits, grades, and exams, it differed HSE from the other universities where my friends studied. The system is clear, transparent and comparable with foreign universities; therefore, there are no problems in studying on exchange programmes and in diploma validity overseas. Higher School of Economics resembles foreign universities in this sense.
- What skills should one have to succeed the way you did?
- To work hard, to think strategically, to be creative and to be open to newness, not to be afraid of difficulties and changes.
- What advice would you give to students?
- To the first-year students I would advise to participate in as many activities and events as possible, to consult with the fellows from senior courses, do not sit still, and to look for what you like. In the first year it is essential to understand that some things require significant preparation and that you have some time to implement your strategy. I believe that you can think about exchange programs or getting master’s degree abroad, undoubtedly it is a great experience. I would also recommend participating in business accelerators, probably developing your idea, and making friends from other areas of studies, especially IT. On senior years it is good to find an internship in an international company or to make a trip around the world after the graduation, at least to visit another continent for a few months, because it is unlikely that you will find any time to do it later.