Master’s In Finance: Pavel Lebedev, MIT (Sloan)

Student Name: Pavel Lebedev

Graduate Business School: MIT Sloan School of Management

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Perpetual dilettante, cinema lover, wannabe “flash boy” of electronic trading world, poet of gray.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: New Economic School (Moscow, Russia), Economics.

Current Employer and Job Title: Jump Trading, Quantitative Developer.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I cannot highlight any specific moment as my highest achievement. Rather, I am most proud of the steady path of growth that I followed during the past 10 years. Moving out of the provincial town to the best school in the country, continuing my education in the top school in the world, and then landing a job in one of the leading institutions had never been an outcome that I envisioned in the beginning.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: In retrospect, I’m proud of being brave enough to live truthfully to myself and be open to others during this chapter of my life. I also hope that I was kind and supportive to my classmates and made this tough experience easier and more fun for them.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? MIT has a great history of academic excellence in the field of finance as well as in other areas. The fact that my program gives a lot of freedom to take classes across disciplines was valuable to me because I was eager to absorb that knowledge outside of my discipline. Also, conversations with alumni and program director Heidi Pickett showed me that Sloan MFin has the culture and camaraderie that I cherish.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Finance over an MBA? First, it seemed natural to me to continue my career in finance after my internship in banking during my undergrad; I was less interested in consulting, marketing or product management. Second, I believe that MFin’s academic curriculum is more technical, robust and quantitative, which aligned with my desire to explore the scientific and technological frontier of modern finance. In this regard, I was choosing between MFin and pursuing a PhD. Finally, I felt that without full-time work experience and clear professional goals, I couldn’t have used the MBA experience to the fullest.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? My favourite course was Electronic Music Composition class (21M.361). Music has always been my passion; I used to DJ and organize techno parties in Moscow. I was very happy to get such an artistic opportunity on campus. This experience led me to writing music for documentaries that are now presented at film festivals! I also loved the professor and getting an A+ for this demanding class will always be my great memory.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? For an international person, the job search in the US could be almost impossible if you don’t go to a well-regarded institution. Thus, MIT played a crucial role in my success by providing the infrastructure for our job search and interaction with employers: by organizing career fairs, and having the network of alumni. I am also deeply grateful for the career advice and time that professors and program administration shared with me.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? I am confident that my new friends and our shared experiences are the best assets that I am taking from grad school. For me, these connections didn’t just enhance my time here, but were an integral part of it. I can’t imagine getting through the stress of hard studying, job searching, and immigration uncertainty by myself. Right now, my school friends are a huge part of my support system that I built away from home. 

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? This is an especially tough question, because so many professors at MIT are just brilliant. There are exceptional researchers and outstanding teachers. I would want to use this chance to thank Professor Paul Mende, who sparked my interest in mathematics once again and made me believe that I can do it. He also gave me invaluable advice on tough career choices. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Research deeper into program curriculum, talk to students/alumni, and understand you actually want to complete a Master’s at MIT. Otherwise, just be yourself; present your case as a coherent story. I think that admission officers, similarly to experienced job interviewers, are quite sensitive to insincerity and people trying to present as likeable but inauthentic.

What was your best memory from your Master’s program Amazing trips with my classmates to Puerto Rico, New York and Vermont. During COVID, these memories are particularly bittersweet.


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