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"A good master's degree will boost your career prospects"

"A good master's degree will boost your career prospects"

Andrey Timushev graduated from ICEF in 2012 with a master’s degree . After working at Oliver Wyman consulting firm in Moscow and Frankfurt, Andrey continues his career in Germany as an expert on safe investing in stocks and a founder of online school. In this interview, Andrey tells about how ICEF benefits its students by giving useful contacts, what makes relocating a useful experience, and how to monetize your expertise.

About the choice of academic track

I earned my bachelor's degree in Mathematical Methods for Economists from HSE University – Nizhny Novgorod. In this city, HSE is by far the best university for economics. Its programme seemed the best fit for my strengths and a tool to translate skills into career. It made me able to pursue exact sciences while also learning the practical side of business. 

I didn’t really know which job would be right for me. What I did know was that I wanted to be in economics, finance, and business management. The decision started to take shape as I was learning finance and interning at financial departments in Nizhny Novgorod. One internship was with Intel, and it let me realize there were jobs that required a more in-depth knowledge of economics and mathematics. 

My interest in banking and consulting had by then grown into a real passion. I started looking for a solid, and necessarily English-taught, master’s degree in finance. My ambition was to either get a job in an international company and thus expand my geography, or get hired abroad. ICEF’s master’s programme offered exactly this opportunity. Another benefit was the high reputation that ICEF diploma enjoyed among employers in different countries. The programme seemed highly advanced and one of the best in Russia. I put it on my list of the top three master’s programmes to pursue. 

About a win-win investment

A good master's degree will boost your career prospects – I am a living proof. My master’s degree gave me the opportunities I hadn’t have before, not to mention that it proved highly paying: I started being paid several times more, compared to the salary I was offered as a bachelor’s degree holder. What I also consider very important is the contacts that are available to members of ICEF community within financial sector. My classmates who now work for various financial companies – they and the teachers and other alumni – are that very source that can get you real jobs.

So, I made myself fully dedicated to my two-year master’s study, working in parallel only as a teacher for ICEF’s undergraduate programme and interrupting for my summer internship. My experience as a teacher proved absolutely right for me when I assumed a job as a consultant. Where else but in consulting can presentation skills prove so useful? 

Even though the Master of Financial Economics degree is generally considered to be academic in nature, some of its courses turned out fitting the needs of my job-related tasks just perfectly. 

About career start

While searching for the vacancies, I stayed in touch with graduates and master’s students of ICEF. They were my source of vital details such as who worked where and how, and what requirements candidates were expected to meet, and what the prospects were. This made me fully prepared for entering the job market. 

To me, consulting looks an attractive career for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is room for a diversity of projects and cooperating with some unique clients. Your tasks as a consultant lead to fast professional growth.

In consulting you learn twice as fast as anywhere else

You find yourself internalizing a great number of projects with many different companies, enjoying the opportunity for self-development. Consulting proved the right career for me also from the perspective of personal qualities. I like the teaching process. As with teaching, there is communication in consulting. A consultant should be able to get his judgement across to clients and provide arguments substantiated by figures – and I think I’m good at it. 

My first job as a consultant was at Oliver Wyman, and it was a good career start facilitated, among other factors, by my degree. In a job interview, the candidate is asked questions designed to help them demonstrate their logical thinking skills, case- and problem-solving ability, and reasoning in English. These abilities are what ICEF cultivates in the first place.

About the cultural contributions of relocating

The idea to relocate to Germany took shape when I was a bachelor’s student and learning German. Once employed, I contacted the head of Oliver Wyman’s office in Germany for the possibility to move and they said it was available, provided that my business German was fluent enough. But, learning to be fluent in business German proved to be somewhat of a challenge in Russia. I hired a tutor and it took almost a year of learning parallel to work to become truly proficient. Next time I was talking over the phone to the head of the office in Germany I used German and she agreed to arrange for my transfer.

Curiously, my job responsibilities hardly changed at all. The tasks before the banks in Germany aren’t much different from those in Russia. Aside from regulatory features, it’s fascinating how the banking industry has become nationalityless. 

When you move to a foreign country in your former capacity, you gain on the financial side, of course. But alongside this, I was curious to experience life in Germany from the point of view of language skills, personal development and range of opportunities. I worked in Germany, Portugal, England, Netherlands – the only destination I travelled for work in Russia was Kazakhstan – so I have absorbed quite a number of European cultures. Living in an intercultural environment enriches your inner life. Encountering new approaches, worldviews, work ethics, business philosophies, mindsets – all this has been an invaluable experience for me.

For example, in German thinking, the normal planning horizon would be five to ten years, whereas in Russia people tend to plan for less than three years ahead. This, however, doesn’t make businesses operate less efficiently in Russia or Germany – the difference lies in the approach. Every time you immerse yourself in a new culture, you learn to be flexible. You develop tolerance to differing opinions and ways of solving problems.

How to start working for yourself

Being my own boss was an ambition that I had for a long time. My plan was to join a large company, gain experience, become a true professional in my career field, and eventually find my niche. But that’s not what happened. I and my wife started a business in a field completely different from mine, because we thought it was all about having a good business idea. 

That's when I realized that in order to gain momentum in business we need to be relying on our strengths, not business idea per se

Still, the experience proved a fascinating one, and it made me a better entrepreneur. I decided to start a training project, because I like teaching. But before I began to promote myself as an expert, I was advising people on how to launch their own online schools. 

My background in finance and experience as a consultant have given me the skills which have led me to where I am now. I am teaching people how to start investing in stocks and how they can do it safely and profitably. And I must admit I found the systemic knowledge I received from HSE very useful. I first used my own funds to test the investment schemes I thought were viable, so once I gained proof I developed a dedicated training course. I welcome everyone who wishes to improve their investment literacy. Once the group is formed, we start our training sessions with key focus on private investment. 

About education as business

My path has been that of an expert working to monetize his expertise, and I can say that possibilities along this path are nearly limitless. An education business can be grown further by expanding its reach or group size, or diversifying the topics to teach. Similarly, there’s no limit to financial returns. But the thing I care most about this business is that it suits me perfectly. I like what I do and it gives me pleasure to see the good effect. I help my students to improve their financial situation. 

I started my online school in 2021. It was a demand-driven idea. A lot of people are obviously lacking the knowledge of how personal investment works. There are, indeed, only a few companies on the market that provide individual finance training. As a rule, individual guidance is limited mostly to financial services, with investment mechanisms remaining unknown to the vast majority of people who would like to improve their investment decision-making skills. 

The extra knowledge that I had to gain to make my education business up and running included marketing and sales. For the rest, I mostly concentrate on teaching and ways to perfect my methodology so that my every student is able to achieve their financial goals upon completion. 

About why personal contact is important

One thing that’s been of great help in my previous and current roles is the knowledge of project management. Being a part of the training at ICEF, it involves teamwork on case solving and related assignments, giving students a useful tool in dealing with their future professional tasks. 

A key role in my career belongs to my ability to negotiate and delegate – the skills that will always come in handy for us, especially when changing careers. I owe my empowerment also to teaching: I am now an expert on getting the right message across, which is another useful skill in every place I worked at. My advice to students of today would be to improve communication skills and do some extra learning to become better presenters.