Go from fresher to well-paid investment banker!
The uncertainty in the world of investment banking that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 has failed to deter this young entrepreneur from stepping on the gas. As one enters the fifth floor of a suburban corporate park in Mumbai's Andheri suburb, carpenters, interior decorators and painters are seen racing against time to convert 6,000 square feet of construction chaos into something that will emulate the interiors of an investment bank.
It is in this environment that Sonya Hooja is marshalling her resources to meet the September 15 deadline when Imarticus Learning, an investment banking education institute, plans to enroll its first batch of 100 students who will be trained to become productive within a day of joining any investment bank.
"We plan to admit 400 students a year. Our courses are short-term: We have three, four and six-month courses in IT (50 admissions) and Operations (50 admissions). Each batch, therefore, will have 100 students," says Sonya about the institute's long-term plan, stretching her vocal cords as the sound of drills and stone grinders drowns her voice.
Sonya claims that the investment banking industry is seeing a huge gap between what the fresh hires offer in terms of skill and what organisations need from them. "That's where Imarticus Learning steps in. Experts from the industry have designed our course curriculum and we will keep updating it as per industry requirements," she says.
She adds that she has observed this gap of skill firsthand during her ten-year experience as an investment banker with firms Accenture, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. Sonya did her MBA at INSEAD France and Singapore.
In the following interview with Prasanna D Zore, Sonya discusses how Imarticus Learning's courses could help fresh graduates become more employable, how they can enroll for the programmes the institute offers, the course fees and how the certifications will help them enter the investment banking job market.
Image: Sony Hooja (right) addressing students at a career counselling session
Clear gap between industry expectations and our education system
Is this a lucrative market to be in?
We will be training students for Information Technology and Operations roles in the investment banking space. We are trying to fill the gap between the industry and academia by providing students with skills that will add immense value to the recruiter and themselves. Coming from investment banking background, I noticed a clear gap between what the industry wanted and what our education system was churning out. So we decided to fill this gap. This course benefits both the student as well as the industry.
We will equip the student with skill sets, an understanding of the domain knowledge, business skills and the kind of knowledge required when you start working with corporates, predominantly domain knowledge.
Student enrolment and eligibility
We have just started enrolling students. Each prospective student will go through a selection procedure, an assessment process. A student must meet our criteria to gain admission.
There are four levels of assessments. The first level tests quantitative and analytical aptitude. The next level tests how much they know and understand about their domain in IT, like say, 10 things a student must know if s/he is an IT graduate. The third assessment tests the students' ability to grasp new concepts. We provide material on investment banking and test the students to understand how much they have understood post studying.
Finally, there will be a personal interview where we test communication as well as soft attributes like integrity and professionalism.
We want to stick to 100 students in the first three months to make sure our student-teacher ratio is not askew. We do not want to hamper quality in a race for more students.
Eligibility for Certified Investment Banking in IT
- You have to be a software engineer or an MCA
- There are certain exceptions like MSC-IT. We will make an exception if someone shows strong programming acumen and has proficiency in various coding languages
Eligibility for Certified Investment Banking in Operations professional
- MBA with an interest in finance
- Exceptions would be commerce graduates with a strong inclination for finance
How you will benefit from these courses
Job opportunities for those who complete the course
In the current climate, banks are facing tremendous pressure overseas. I believe, to become more efficient, much of the IT and operations work of investment banks will come to India. So I see that as an opportunity. While people may think that there are not enough jobs available in the IT and operations side of investment banking, this is not the case. We want to create awareness that there are opportunities available in investment banking even at this point in time.
How will Imarticus's certification help students become more employable?
We have got two types of certifications. Our institute is accredited by CISI Charter in the UK which is Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.
What this certification means is they have assessed our faculty, infrastructure and course curriculum and made sure that everything is up to international and industry standards.
Both CIBOP and CIBIT are also recognised by the industry. We have formed an industry council comprising of executives from investment banking firms. We work closely with them in assessing industry requirements and course relevance. We upgrade our materials continuously.
Do these industry professionals tell you that the certifications you are offering will carry weight when these students go into the job market?
When investment banks hire, the key challenge they face is lack of investment banking domain knowledge. That is the gap we are trying to bridge in consultation with our industry experts. Our courses offer 60 per cent on job training in the classroom itself. Bulk of our course includes live projects wherein we create an environment consisting of eight-member team that will simulate a market situation.
These simulations allow them to become productive from day one of joining a company.
Faculty, fees and course structure
What's your faculty structure like?
We have got four chief faculties. Suresh Rao, former vice president from JP Morgan. He was involved in setting up the entire operations in Nomura and then with JP Morgan. The other faculty member is Yogesh Dama who was vice president, IT, Nomura, before he joined us. We also have Harish Thakkar, associate director with Capgemini joining us soon and then there is Reshma Krishnan who was associate vice president with Avendus and comes with a lot of domain expertise.
Besides these chief faculties we will also feature a constant stream of guest lecturers.
How do you plan to go ahead with the 3-month, 4-month and 6-month courses that you have designed?
The 3-month full-time programme will run from 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays. The 6-month part-time courses are actually for CIBIT. Please check the website for more details or contact us.
The 4-month part-time programme is designed to prepare skills for those opting for operations (CIBOP). There will be three batches running for 16-20 hours a week, with flexible timings that are suitable for someone who is at a college or currently working. We are getting a lot of interest from career changers as well.
The IT programme for CIBIT certification is going to cost Rs 1.25 lakh and the operations (CIBOP) will cost Rs 85,000 for both part-time and full-time courses.
When will your facility be functional?
We will be starting our courses on September 15 and are targeting a first batch of 50 for IT and 50 for Operations. Our admission process is rolling so please contact us to enquire about batch start dates.
Image: Sonya Hooja