Meet Brahm van Schalkwyk (South Africa) – International University of Monaco
Why did you decide to study in Monaco?
I was looking for a program that could give me some international exposure, and I also became very interested in the private equity space. When I did my research I found a program in Monaco at IUM, which is their MSc in Finance, but it has a specialization in private equity and hedge funds. What Monaco offered matched exactly what I was looking for.
What is life like on the French Riviera?
The weather is great and there are lots of fun things to do in Monaco. It’s not a big place at all, which means it’s a very tight-knit community. Within a few months of living in Monaco, you know people when you walk past them on the street. I think the 10 months that I spent there as part of this program was really a very fun time but also a very productive time. It gives you exposure to some of the best people in the wealth management/asset management industry.
Describe the ecosystem and networking opportunities at IUM.
IUM is extremely cosmopolitan, a very diverse place; I had lots of different nationalities in my cohort. From a networking and careers perspective, I would probably be a great example as someone for whom Monaco worked out fantastically, because as part of the master’s you need to do either an internship or a thesis in the last three or four months of your course. I opted for an internship and got my internship through a visiting professor in Monaco.
I was only planning on doing three months there to complete my degree but then ended up really liking the job, the people, and the place. I somehow tricked them into liking me as well, so I took out permanent employment at HP Capital and worked there for three years. It worked out really well for me and that’s all due to the connection that I made whilst studying at IUM.
How can IUM help you achieve your career goals? Was work experience compulsory for your master’s?
You don’t need work experience for sure. It very much depends on what you want to do after [in terms of your career goals]. It’s definitely a very good stepping stone to get a first job if that’s what you’re looking for – because of the internship aspect of it. People are typically very accommodating and very willing to take on an intern that they know has the specific technical knowledge that they require. Then it’s up to you to convert that internship into what you want it to be.
On the other hand, the older guys in the class managed to leverage their previous work experience and move into a role that they really wanted. I’m thinking specifically of one guy in our class who came to Monaco with the specific goal of working for a specific family office and living in Monaco after having a successful career at large multinationals. The program completely enabled him to achieve his goals.
Describe your overall experience at IUM.
In terms of what Monaco meant to me personally it was, [firstly], gaining hard skills. [Secondly], it gave me a network and platform from where I could market myself to people and eventually obtain the job that I wanted. In summary, the ROI for me was fantastic, definitely worth it, and I think it worked out better than I had anticipated.