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Tom Secretan

MSc Finance and Commodities

Tom knew that he wanted to move from IT to a role in commodities markets, and felt that he needed a good qualification that would enable him to achieve this. He began looking at different options, and discovered that Birkbeck’s courses were well respected, and taught in the evenings, giving him the flexibility he needed to continue working alongside his studies.  Tom says: 'I was researching different courses and saw that Birkbeck offered a huge range of modules, and that the financial engineering and commodities courses were very well respected, both within the UK and internationally. That was a big influence on my decision to study at Birkbeck.'

Although Tom had previously completed a BSc Mathematics, he found that this programme differed in that it was far more practical. He comments: 'This course was grounded in the practical, day to day environment that I was working in and the syllabus was designed around that. I could use what I was learning in my Birkbeck course directly in my job, and that was a great benefit.'

The other main difference was that this time at university, his study-ethic was much stronger, and that helped him to manage the demanding workload of full-time work and part-time study. He says: 'The workload is heavy, and you have to devote weekends and evenings to study. However, the routine of lectures in the week keeps you focussed and you learn to use your time much more efficiently. It is hard work, but not insurmountable.'

An open and supportive relationship with lecturers and fellow students also helped Tom to deal with the pressures of work and study. He explains: 'The lecturers were full of knowledge and information, but they were very open and helpful, and created a really relaxed environment in the lectures. They would also respond to emails and queries outside of the lectures. A lot of the other students were in similar situations to me, working in the City in financial positions, and we drew a lot of support from one another. Working and studying with classmates was a great way of keeping an eye on your own level.'

Reflecting on what he hoped to achieve from the Master’s Tom says: 'I obviously hoped to get a qualification, and I achieved that, and was awarded a distinction, which I am very pleased with. I also hoped to further my career, and I’ve certainly done that too, as I’ve actually had two promotions since starting the course and am now working in commodities markets. I feel that I’ve achieved this as a direct result of my course at Birkbeck.'

Since completing his Master’s Tom has recommended the programme to friends in a similar situation to him. He says: 'Birkbeck ticks all the boxes: evening study so you can work full-time, excellent, practical courses that are well respected by employers, and a syllabus that really relates to what is going on in the industry at the moment. I’ve recommended it to friends and will continue to do so.'

As well as recommending the College to others, Tom also intends to keep connected to academic developments relating to commodities himself. 'There is a lot of research going on in this area,' he says, 'and Birkbeck is at the forefront.'

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'I could use what I was learning in my Birkbeck course directly in my job.'