Alexandra Katinová, comes from Slovak Republic, from Zvolen, and graduated from the IES in 2018. Alexandra was already very active at the IES, she led the student club E-Klub, participated in activities within the Club 307 and completed a study stay in Milan, Italy at Università Bocconi. As a volunteer, she translated for the Khan School or was a member of the organizing team of the European Student Parliament. Approximately 150 students and young people interested in the European Union take part in this event every year and it is conducted in French. After her undergraduate studies at the IES, Alexandra went on to study Finance and Banking at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. There she was even President of the MBF Women Club, an initiative aimed at supporting women working in finance. In terms of work experience, Alexandra started gaining it during her undergraduate studies as a research analyst at BCG. During her Swiss studies, she then followed up with an internship at LGT Capital Partners in Switzerland, where she first worked part-time, then starting full-time as a PE analyst. Since spring 2022, Alexandra has been working at the company as an Associate. In her spare time, Alexandra enjoys the outdoor activities, skiing, as well as improving her foreign languages, such as German.
Alexandra, after the IES you studied in St. Gallen, Switzerland, how do you evaluate this university? It is said that studying there is very demanding... Was the graduation from IES enough for you? Or did you have to prepare additionally for the studies here?
After finishing my bachelor´s degree at the IES, I continued studying the Master in Banking and Finance (MBF) at University of St. Gallen. It is a challenging and rather technical curriculum for a Finance degree but it is well respected in the DACH region and has strong ties to relevant employers in Switzerland and beyond. Similar to the IES, the program only accepts ca. 120 students a year which allows for tight nit community where people know each other well and create valuable connections for the future.
Studying at the IES prepared me very well for further studies. All the Math courses, Statistics and Econometrics formed extremely good basis for the quantitative part of the program like Quantitative Methods or Financial Markets. Having such detailed background in econometrics and R was quite a differentiator compared to students with Business Administration bachelor degrees. One extra preparation that I needed to undertake was the one for GMAT examination, which was eventually quite manageable but required effort and time. In general, I would say IES curriculum is very well-built for anyone wishing to continue studying abroad, with both good quantitative courses as well as English-instructed Business-related ones.
Why did you choose St. Gallen?
I first started to think about studying at University of St. Gallen after hearing very good feedback from a number of IES Alumni that have completed their masters in this beautiful small Swiss town. Everyone spoke highly of the quality of education coupled with subsequent good job opportunities in DACH region and abroad.
I also think that studying at University of St. Gallen offers a very good value for money proposition. While being a top-rated European Finance Master program, the tuition fees are approx. CHF 3,300/semester with living costs being cheaper compared to big cities like London or Paris.
Lastly, I chose this university because of the location. Switzerland is beautiful country of lakes, mountains and nature and I was definitely looking forward to living few years in such a marvelous place.
At school, you participated in the MBF Women Club, which supports women in finance. What specifically did you deal with, how does the club work and how does the activity of the club manifest itself in real life?
MBF Women Club gathers female students of the program across cohorts and connects them to the Alumnae network and to employers not only in Finance but also other related industries. I was part of the Board of the Club responsible for organizing lectures, workshops and social events.
The main mission of the Club is to provide a platform where female finance students, as a minority in the field, can exchange, receive support and learn more about different carrier paths from Alumnae or partner firms. The female share of the MBF program is consistently low (in the range of 15-20 %) so MBF Women Club also tries to raise awareness and motivate female bachelor student to apply to the Finance Master program.
You started your professional career at BCG. How difficult is the recruitment process here and what might have helped you personally to be chosen? It is said that BCG has very demanding criteria...
The recruitment process consisted of case study interviews which consulting firms use to test applicants on problem solving and critical thinking skills. It is extremely important to practice the cases before the interview. I was lucky enough to have been part of the Intensive part of the Club 307, a student consulting club in Prague, where I learnt valuable frameworks and techniques that were helpful to solve the interview cases. Being a student at IES also helped me in the process as the school is well known to be challenging and analytical and many IES Alumni already work at the firm.
You are currently working in Switzerland at LGT Capital Partners. What was your career path at this company and what exactly are you doing now?
I started my career at LGT Capital Partners with a student part-time position in the private equity team. After graduating from university, I was offered a permanent Analyst position focusing on fundraising of private equity funds. My role is to shape and oversee the fundraising strategy of two direct private equity co-investment funds with combined USD 5bn of assets, working closely with the senior management on a day-to-day basis.
Switzerland is known for its high-level civil society who follows the rules and behaves responsibly. How do you find living in such environment?
Switzerland is not only a beautiful country but also a very well-functioning one. From outside, it may seem that people are bound by rules. But after a few years living here, I would say that all these rules, and especially their enforcement, is the key to a safe, cleaner and efficient society.
Effectively it is about the collective mindset of being respectful not only to each other, but also to public and private property. The reward of living in a pleasant and clean environment is definitely worth it.
How do you spend your free time?
Living in Switzerland makes almost everyone an outdoor person. Hiking in the mountains became one of my favourite activities as the views of the Alpine peaks, glaciers and lakes are absolutely breathtaking. I am also already looking forward to the skiing season. Skiing on the weekends is my favourite winter gataway from the everyday working life. I currently also try to improve my German skills. The practice with the Swiss is, however, not so easy as Swiss German is very different from the high German that one learns.