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How did his UK degree help Saad build a successful career in Banking

Saad Kamran, who hails from Pakistan, graduated from the University of Leeds in the year 2012 after completing MSc in Economics and Finance. 

How did his UK degree help Saad build a successful career in Banking? Saad shares his experience of studying in the UK:

1. Please describe your role in the organisation you currently working for.

At present, I am working as the Manager - Treasury Sales at Allied Bank Limited, Pakistan. Allied Bank is one of the five banks in Pakistan with over 1000 branches across the country. In my role, I facilitate trade finance (forex settlements, home remittance and currency hedging) for corporate entities and exchange houses based in Northern Pakistan (Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Multan). This job requires one to be extremely interactive with customers and also involves extensive travelling to remain in contact with the clients. I thoroughly enjoy my work and it is exactly what I had desired after graduating from the University of Leeds in UK.

2. What drew you to study your subject in the UK? How did it help you in your chosen career path?

Universities in the UK offer qualifications which are recognised worldwide and the education system followed in the UK is very supportive which allows international students to blend in easily. I had thoroughly researched before selecting which university to enrol with in the UK. For me, primary reasons for selecting UK for higher studies were their high academic standards, shorter distance from my home country and because it has all the logistics that an international student would find supportive.

At the University of Leeds, I studied at the Business school which is renowned within the employers communities and also has a high departmental ranking worldwide. The course I undertook at the University of Leeds was specifically related to core economics and finance and the concepts I built during my time there is helping me now in conducting Treasury related work which is not only intense in nature but also requires thorough knowledge of currency and economic risks. 

3. Why did you choose the UK?

Before joining the University of Leeds, I received acceptance from many international universities which also included the US but while selecting a course for higher studies, due consideration for me was flexibility of courses offered within the same discipline. Both of these attributes were offered only by the UK educational institutions. Other factors which I really admire about the UK system include their robust support system for international students in terms of accommodation and commute. But above all, I found the country to be fairly disciplined and one that helps international students take good values and memories back to their countries.

4. What was your career progression after you finished your UK course (e.g. how you went about finding a job and how your UK education was received by employers)?

After graduating from the University of Leeds, I took up the opportunity to intern at Ambition House (formerly known as Canterbury Enterprise Group) for nearly four months. Ambition House is a venture capital firm that trains and helps individuals’ set-up businesses. Shortly after, I returned to Pakistan in pursuit of a job in the banking industry. After going through various interviews with banks across Pakistan, I found myself inclined to take up a job with the Treasury department at Allied Bank Limited. I have now been working at the bank for more than three years. A degree from the UK, or any foreign degree for that matter is always well received in Pakistan because,  employers always look to hire the most skilled, finely groomed crop of graduates.           

5. What advice would you give students from your country hoping to get into your area of work?

In my opinion, students seeking a career in the field of Treasury need to be very well-read on financial markets and world economies and need to be sound decision makers. Treasury is a specialised area of work where individuals require knowledge on world financial and currency markets. Treasury is an area where one needs to be a risk-taker and play an active role in the decision making process.

6. What for you has been the most useful outcome of your UK education?

The friendships I made during my stay in the UK are very meaningful. I met people from all across the globe (17 different nationalities) during my time at Leeds. I am sure that some of these friendships will last for the rest of my life.\

7. What are your ambitions for the future?

I have learnt that one needs to challenge one’s own boundaries. While I enjoy the work I do, I believe, my ambition will take me further. At some point in life I would like to set-up my own business and be a provider of opportunities rather than continue to be a receiver. In order to achieve this, I focus on developing extensive contacts with people who would be supportive in my endeavour.

8. Did you find it easy to settle in to life in the UK? What did you enjoy the most about living here?

UK works within a systemic framework which is very different from Pakistan. Student life was challenging in terms of managing a budget, time and personal work which I had never done before. I wasn’t trained to cook at home or do my own laundry. Leaving behind the comfort zone was not easy but living abroad was the best learning experience of my life which I realise today has made me an independent person.

I enjoyed traveling around to nearby locations. The weather is unpredictable which was manageable because of the well laid out infrastructure and availability of public transport.

I stayed in Kent for my undergraduate degree and the town was very peaceful and serene. Leeds on the other hand was more happening. I have some family in the UK but really, during the course of the study there was never time to visit them much. There was far too much to do and I appreciate all that I learnt which does in some way set me apart from my colleagues who chose to study within the country.

9. What’s your number one memory of your time in the UK?

That’s a bit hard to decide. I have so many memories from the time I spent in the UK. But now that I have to pick one, I would say graduation day! Without a doubt, that was best memory from the time I spent in the UK. If only I could travel back in time!