Master’s In Finance: Elena Vollmer, Oxford (Saïd)

Student Name: Elena Vollmer

Graduate Business School: University of Oxford Saïd Business School

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: I am an ambitious, warm, caring person who deeply cherishes friendships and family.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics,  Econometrics, Economics, and Operational Research.

Current Employer and Job Title: European Central Bank, Trainee in Directorate General International and European Relations, International Policy Analysis.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working at the European Central Bank is the biggest accomplishment for me. Being selected from over 800 applicants to work in the International Policy Analysis division is a great honour. On a daily basis, I not only oversee all financial markets outside of the European Union but I also actively support economists in preparing the Executive Board on monetary policy decisions for the Governing Council. In addition, my econometric models and policy work are also presented directly to Board members through seminars to discuss the state of the art.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: The biggest accomplishment during the master’s was a group work for the Corporate Finance course that lasted several weeks. Initially, the problem seemed unsolvable. Our model was complicated and did not give us the output we wished for — at some point we even called it “the beast.” In the end, with a lot of work, engagement, sleepless night and laughter we managed to tame “the beast,” and produced a working model that let us score one of the highest grades in class. During the experience, I especially enjoyed the group work as we all helped each other out, cheered each other up when we couldn’t find a solution, and grew together as a team. 

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Firstly, I was looking for a master’s degree that combined supporting me in my future adventures while at the same time challenging me intellectually. Oxford Said Business School is the best place to combine both with the support of the career service centre and the teaching of outstanding lecturers. Moreover, the school is part of one of the oldest and most renowned universities in the world, combining rich history and tradition with innovation and forward-thinking. Being able to study in libraries where Nobel Prize winners discovered world-changing theories speaks for itself and made my choice for Said Business School straightforward.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Finance over an MBA? While an MBA offers a variety of opportunities upon graduation, for me it was essential to remain specialized in my field. After my bachelor studies, my curiosity and passion to understand more complex issues and applications led me to choose a master’s in Financial Economics. By understanding underlying mechanics and theories provided by the master’s, I hope to pursue a PhD in the future.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? The two courses that enriched my knowledge the most were Asset Pricing and Econometrics taught by Dimitrios Tsomocos and Kevin Sheppard. The passion and expertise the two professors showed sparked my interest in deepening my research in these fields, so I subsequently wrote my thesis with Kevin Sheppard on an econometric topic. Understanding the concepts and their importance encouraged me to apply for a traineeship at the ECB to continue my career path and understand how the theory is applied in practice.  

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? Besides the long-lasting academic and personal support, my business school helped me in two ways in particular to land my first job. On the one hand, the incredible alumni network with its rich history and admirable personalities enabled me to expand my personal network and hear about various work experiences first-hand. One the other hand, seminars and extracurricular activities organized by the school allowed me to benefit from fascinating speeches, lectures and workshops.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? In my opinion, the social aspect of a business school experience should never be underestimated. I met many different personalities, with different educational and national backgrounds, who truly enriched my experience with the social interactions I had with them. Moreover, I am very grateful to my friends who supported me when the program got tough, working endlessly together on assignments and cheering each other up. 

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? I think it’s hard to choose one person who most fundamentally enriched my learning as I had several faculty members that supported me along my year at the business school. I am most thankful for Kevin Sheppard for his support during my thesis. He not only let me follow my research ideas, but I also learned how to structure a research question, to practice my problem-solving skills and to find creative approaches to problems at hand. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Be yourself and show your passion and interest professionally and personally. Naturally, it is important to work hard to achieve your goals and show this through your academic work. But I think what is more important is that you stay true to yourself, show your character, and have clear ideas about your future and portray this when applying. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? The most memorable moment for me was my matriculation. In that moment, I truly realized that I had achieved something great and I felt empowered. Years of hard work from my bachelor finally paid off and I also immediately thought about how thankful I was to my family for always supporting me and believing in me.


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