Dennis Lin, alumnus of the Master in Advanced Finance, class of 2014, just relocated from Canada to Shanghai – he recently accepted an offer from Banco Santander for the Talento Asia Program – a global leadership training program to become part of Santander’s Chinese market expansion team, based in Shanghai, China. Dennis shared with us his exciting and enriching experience at IE Business School.

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It is a pleasure and privilege to be invited to discuss a bit about myself and my experience with IE Business School’s Master in Advanced Finance program. I would like to thank IE Finance Admissions for the invitation.

Dennis holds a Bachelor in Music in classical piano performance from The University of British Columbia (“UBC”) in Canada. He was an education professional in Seoul, Korea for two years before making a change into business following the footsteps of his father, an entrepreneur in the computer industry. Upon completing his MBA at Korea University, Dennis began his employment with Samsung Construction & Trading Corporation and began a career in project finance, working in power plant investments in emerging markets. For three years he worked alongside industry veterans to successfully finance projects in Turkey and Poland, valued at approximately $900 million for each plant. In January 2014, Dennis was accepted into IE Business School’s Master in Advanced Finance (“MiAF”) program to continue developing his financial expertise, and during that summer, he interned at Chinatrust Banking Corporation’s Leveraged Finance Desk for two months in Taipei, Taiwan. Dennis graduated from the MiAF program in December 2014 and has recently accepted an offer from Banco Santander for the Talento Asia Programa global leadership training program to become part of Santander’s Chinese market expansion team, based in Shanghai, China.

With an undergraduate degree in music, I was an unlikely candidate to be in business not to mention in the highly specialized world of finance. Taking risks and working hard to get into the business world were understatementsI had to be more strategic in my approach and act with more conviction than others to make it. IE Business School was an integral part of the equation in achieving my goal of becoming a truly international businessman and financier. To select the right school and program, I first evaluated my own background: 1) North American experience as a Canadian and UBC graduate, 2) Asian experience as a Taiwanese descendant with work experience in Korea, and 3) Eastern European and Middle Eastern exposures through extensive professional involvement in Turkey and Poland. What I felt was missing was exposure to Western Europe, Africa, and Latin America, regions that had always piqued my interest. My motivation to pursue a specialized degree in finance was to obtain the technical skills needed to cross-over into banking / finance from my more corporate background. Leveraging my experience from Samsung, I aimed for the top-ranked finance programs in the world. I researched extensively and attended admission seminars from several top schools. IE Business School offers a top ranking finance program (No. 3 on Financial Times in 2013), strong reputation and networks in Latin America, location in Western Europe, and optional finance trips to Ghana and New York. The school fulfilled all my pre-requisites. I was convinced that IE Business School’s finance degree was a strategic fit for me to become a banker and expand my international footprint.

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In October 2014, ten IE Business School students including four Master in Management, four Master in Advanced Finance (“MiAF”) students, and two dual-degree (International MBA + MiAF) students set out to Accra, Ghana, for a week for the Microfinance Advisory Project. As a member of the project, my role was to analyze loan portfolios and financial statements of local microfinance institutions (“MFI”), evaluating whether the business was profitable and sustainable, and determining abnormalities or room for improvement. Using financial statement analysis, credit analysis, and interest rate analysis, we gave our recommendations to the MFIs to ensure their businesses could be sustained and generate enough revenue to continue helping their clients with microloans. While most of the ground work was done in Madrid before the trip, the impact to each one of the students was not felt until we were in Accra. The numbers we had crunched on Excel now represented people’s livelihood. The delinquent loans were often due to droughts and poor crop yields, which could devastate an entire village. We looked at the numbers with new perspectives – with compassion, empathy, and humility to serve the people in need. Our team worked extremely hard because we saw the slums where most of the MFI’s clients were situated – we wanted to help. We delivered actionable plans that can significantly improve the MFI’s loan products, accounting practices, and interest rate calculations so that the MFI’s business can be sustainable. If the MFI can generate a sustainable revenue and accurate accounting, it can raise more financing and issue more microloans to serve its clients and help them with their commercial or agricultural businesses. I have never felt more proud of a project for directly aiding those who needed help the most.

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In March 2015, 17 students from IE’s finance degrees – Global Master in Finance, Master in Advanced Finance, and Master in Finance – took part in the New York Finance Trip to visit top investment banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions. We traveled to the financial epicenters of Wall Street, Midtown Manhattan, and Greenwich / Stamford Connecticut with the purpose of interacting with heads of sell-side and buy-side equity research, fund managers / founders, and recruiting officers for both educational purposes and most importantly, employment opportunities. There are not too many opportunities in life where aspiring financiers can be in the same room for one hour to talk to the founder of a multibillion-dollar hedge fund or ask questions to the head of equity research of a bulge bracket covering the Americas. Picking the most memorable event of the trip from such a star-studded itinerary is difficult, but I must say when we walked into and stood on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, it felt as if my pilgrimage to the financial Mecca was now complete. It was certainly a humbling experience, and I am grateful to have been a part of this trip. We learned the most current trends in the financial markets and insights to sell-side and buy-side, but the most critical learning experience was how to get into Wall Street. Professor Kevin Spellman and Associate Director of the Finance Academic Department, Maria Fernandez de Mesa, did a tremendous job to organize this trip.