When asked what she suggests for women aspiring for a career on the buy-side, Anna says “Be bold, and dare to take risks, even if it means deviating from the well-trodden path. Large institutional investors are becoming more active these days, building out teams that rival those of big investment banks and private equity houses, so don’t be afraid to consider other options than the sell-side. At the end of the day, whatever your passion may be, never accept ‘this is how it has always been’ for an answer. It is a challenging field, but equally rewarding and success does not depend on gender.” (Anna Barath, MIF alumnus)

Anna Barath, from Hungary, is a former IE Master in Finance student and an investor on a mission to prove that women have a place in the world of private equity. A big believer in challenging the status quo, she hopes to inspire more young women to consider an investment career. A native Hungarian-Russian with a wide range of interests, she lived in eight countries, and tried herself in a variety of jobs before entering the world of finance, now calling London home. After graduating from IE Business School, Anna started her finance career in the corporate finance team of Moody’s Investors Service in London. She then moved to the alternatives team of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, one of UK’s largest private investors. Most recently, she joined KIC, South Korea’s $130bn sovereign wealth fund, covering private equity and credit investments. Anna holds a Master in Finance degree from IE Business School and a Bachelor in International Business Economics degree from the Corvinus University of Budapest. When not in the office, she can be found horse riding, hiking, dancing tango, travelling, reading or learning a new language. Anna has conquered Mount Kilimanjaro and planning to climb Mont Blanc this year or next.

Anna Barath, from Hungary, is a former IE Master in Finance student and an investor on a mission to prove that women have a place in the world of private equity. A big believer in challenging the status quo, she hopes to inspire more young women to consider an investment career. A native Hungarian-Russian with a wide range of interests, she lived in eight countries, and tried herself in a variety of jobs before entering the world of finance, now calling London home. After graduating from IE Business School, Anna started her finance career in the corporate finance team of Moody’s Investors Service in London. She then moved to the alternatives team of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, one of UK’s largest private investors. Most recently, she joined KIC, South Korea’s $130bn sovereign wealth fund, covering private equity and credit investments. Anna holds a Master in Finance degree from IE Business School and a Bachelor in International Business Economics degree from the Corvinus University of Budapest. When not in the office, she can be found horse riding, hiking, dancing tango, travelling, reading or learning a new language. Anna has conquered Mount Kilimanjaro and planning to climb Mont Blanc this year or next.

Viet Ha: You´re working as a Private Equity Investment Manager at Korea Investment Corporation based in London, can you tell us more about your career path after IE till now?

After graduating from IE, I joined the Moody’s one-year graduate programme in the corporate finance team and was promoted after five months on the job. I worked in a great team headed by Paloma San Valentin whom I consider my first role model in finance. She exemplified to me that a woman can be successful and a great leader without having to act like one of the boys. She was hard-working, kind and assertive in a soft-spoken manner that went a long way both with her clients and team alike. Working with her and the credit analysts on leveraged finance deals exposed me to the world of private equity that I wanted to explore a bit more, however much I enjoyed working at Moody’s. I therefore moved to the Universities Superannuation Scheme where I worked in the private markets team for about two and a half years, learning the ropes of structuring investments across different asset classes, such as private equity, private credit, infrastructure and special situations. It gave me a broad exposure to alternative investments and an opportunity to try them all within one firm. I have recently joined the Korea Investment Corporation as a private equity investment manager in London where I am focusing on identifying and executing investments in EMEA.

Viet Ha: Looking back, what were the main achievements you had obtained from the IE Master in Finance?

Firstly, it was definitely the practicality of the program, and the real-life applications taught by professors who work in finance themselves. It made a real difference early on in my career when I was competing with other graduates for an offer. Secondly, it was also the network of these professors, who are all impressive professionals in their own right, and classmates, who will soon become the leaders of tomorrow. Looking back at the five years that passed since our graduation, I witnessed this network of IE people supporting each other time and time again and I think this camaraderie is truly something unique. IE gave me the network of some of the smartest, kindest and most caring people that I could count on in my life so far – looking around, not many of my peers can say that about their schools. And finally, living in Spain and Madrid was fantastic and hands down one of the best years of my life.

Viet Ha: You studied university in Budapest with an exchange program at Singapore Management University, later you did the Master at IE in Madrid and now you´re working in London, what does diversity mean to you?

Diversity is a hot topic these days, and I’m sure many will associate it with different origins, languages, cultures first. Having met people from virtually all corners of the world, I have come to realise that it goes beyond that, and our different provenance is just a starting point. At its core, for me diversity is keeping an open mind, knowing that there is always something one can learn from others. The ability to challenge my own assumptions about how I think the world works and who other people really are. Actually never assuming that my view is the only possible interpretation. Putting together an international team is not enough in itself, if it is paired with a ’my way or the highway’ mentality – the culture of open-mindedness has to come with it.

Viet Ha: Just before IE, you worked as a consultant at NATO Headquarters in the Executive Management Division in Brussels for a year, what did you learn from this job?

I learned a lot about myself and where my interest lie. It was my first real job after university and at that time I thought that I want a career in international relations. NATO allowed me to try myself out in this setting and ultimately nudged me back to the finance world that I first encountered in Singapore prior to that. I did however meet lots of wonderful people and picked up a useful array of soft skills. I also learned that it’s ok to experiment early on in one’s career. Although it was a bit more of an uphill battle to break into finance due to my unconventional background, IE’s Master in Finance has been instrumental in making the switch.

Viet Ha: You were part of the IE Team for CFA Research Challenge 2013 which represented Spain in the EMEA Regional Final in London, can you tell us more about it? Who were in the IE Team with you and what challenges did you go through to get to the regional final?

I had a really great team with my classmates Nicolas, Rafa with Raj, and our mentor Professor Sandrine Naslin. I think we managed to divide the tasks in a way that played to each of our strengths. One of the main challenges was that the competition took place at the busiest time of the semester and we only had a couple of weeks to prepare – that meant several long nights working on this project. Besides, not only did we have to get the analysis right, we also had to present it succinctly both in writing and in person. In hindsight, it was a realistic preparation for real-life challenges on the job, both in terms of analytical rigour and time pressure. It was the true proverbial team work, and it showed, as we won the Spanish final.

Viet Ha: Before IE, you also took part in various academic and business competitions and volunteering activities in Russia, Slovenia, Poland, Latvia, Kosovo, Hungary etc., what was the main inspiration behind such a self-motivated young lady?

Part of it is that I am an inquisitive person and I prefer learning through my own experience, rather than taking things at face value. I have also always dreamed about exploring the world, so I actively sought out the opportunities to satisfy both my curiosity and my urge to travel. My family – my parents and my grandmother in particular – are also a great source of inspiration. I come from a line of multi-talented high achievers so I had their examples in front of me since a young age. 

Viet Ha: I´ve heard that you are also a professional tango dancer, you run marathons and do horse riding and yoga. How do all these fit into the life of a finance woman and in which ways do they shape you to be the confident and successful woman as you are now?

Well, not a professional dancer (yet), but working towards it! In all seriousness, it is a struggle to find time for all my interests on a regular basis, but I try to ensure that I keep developing as a person outside of work. It helps building resilience and maintaining my balance when the going gets tough. And when it does, and I have to drop everything else, I still try to find time for horse riding at least – horses are my zen masters and I recharge my batteries in their presence. Balance for me is an essential part of happiness and a non-negligible side-effect is that it allows me to bring my whole self to work and perform well.

Viet Ha: In your opinion, what does being a well-rounded and multi-talented person have to do with success in a competitive field like the finance sector?

Continuing the thoughts on balance above, I think it makes a huge difference for well-being, and it adds another dimension to one’s character – both are assets in a demanding job. Having the time and ability to be a well-rounded person both professionally and privately is how I define success. Besides, as one’s career progresses, spreadsheets take a backseat and connecting with people becomes increasingly important and a differentiating factor. Human connection is something that AI has not replaced yet.

Viet Ha: You have also travelled extensively around the world, how many countries have you stepped foot on till now and what is the most memorable experience? 

Now that you made me count them, it’s actually 57. I could mention so many wonderful experiences, but to pick one, I have recently visited Tanzania and accomplished a long-time dream by climbing the Kibo peak of Kilimanjaro. It may not be the most challenging of mountains, but the altitude adds to the difficulty. Pushing myself to keep going while weakened by the altitude of just under 6000m made me feel just how small we and our everyday worries are – I am more daring and balanced as a result. I also got addicted to this sort of challenge quite a bit and I am planning to climb Mont Blanc this year or next.

Viet Ha: Thank you Anna, I wish you all the best chasing both your professional and personal dreams! Best wishes for 2018!

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