Education and Career During the Crisis: the Case of the Financial Industry

Alexei Goriaev,
Senior Lecturer,
Director of Masters in
Finance program at the
New Economic School

Contrary to popular opinion, a crisis is a good time for a career. However, career opportunities are not open to everyone, but only to the best — those willing to critically reflect on the changes in the labor market, understand their strengths and weaknesses and acquire new skills.

Where is the demand for finance specialists?

The financial industry needs "anti-crisis" professionals working in risk management, business optimization, debt collection, distressed asset management, restructuring of complex transactions, etc. The real sector continues to demand finance specialists, but requirements for their competences have become tougher in view of the crisis. Traditional competences of corporate finance specialists such as capital budgeting, managing sources of funding and liquidity management should be adapted to reflect the high uncertainty of doing business.

What skills provide a competitive advantage in the labor market?

The crisis has toughened companies' requirements for finance specialists' professional qualifications and soft skills. Employers value not just general competences, but specific skills required to perform the tasks at hand, from project management to due diligence of non-core assets. Since the environment is changing rapidly, the candidate must demonstrate flexibility and breadth of skills — in particular, being acquainted with international best practices and understanding how they should work in Russia. There is high demand for professionals with expertise in several areas — for example, in risk management and IT. Many companies now operate in crisis management mode, thus resistance to stress, speed of decision making and the ability to communicate and focus on execution are very important.

How can professional education help a career?

When demand in the labor market lags behind supply, one should demonstrate a sufficiently high level of knowledge and competence to get ahead of the other candidates for a desired position. A high-quality education program will help you strengthen those aspects that you consider important for your career: professional and soft skills, career guidance and support, networking, range of vision and, finally, self-confidence. A part-time program will allow you to study in a flexible and intensive mode, without the necessity to quit your job.

What distinguishes an education of truly high quality?

For a working person, the decision to invest money and time to continue his or her education should be well-thought-out and informed. Who teaches in the program? With whom will you study? How relevant are the skills taught in the program? How effective and interesting is the learning process? And, most importantly, how will the program help your career? It makes sense to fully investigate these questions before making a decision. You will need to analyze information on the program website, the opinions of students and graduates, trial classes, ratings and the reputation of the university.