Eye on Alumni: Abinav Kumar '19

Portrait of Abinav Kumar

“The way I went to learn things in the Master's is the way I now go about when learning new things in my current job.”

Abinav Kumar '19 (Finance) is a Data Scientist at the United States Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. In this Eye on Alumni interview, he shares how the Master's at the Barcelona School of Economics helped him secure his current position.

You had no work experience when you submitted your application for the BSE Master’s Program in Finance. Was it hard for you to study this program?

Actually, I think it was easier. Obviously, I don’t know how it would have been if I would have had some work experience at the time, but as I was coming from an undergrad I didn’t have to learn how to study or how to be a student again. I felt I could pick up the materials as I normally do. Yes, the Finance Program was much more difficult than my undergrad in Economics, but I felt relatively prepared and mentally up to the task.

The profile of my classmates was not homogeneous, though. Some of them didn’t have much work experience, just like me. But others, in contrast, had a lot, and I could learn a lot about their different backgrounds in fields such as finance, consulting, and economics, where my classmates came from. I think it was very helpful in order to shape my interests and inform my career needs further.

How was the relationship with the community of the school?

The orientation day really acted as an early icebreaker. The very first day, on which we all ate paella together, was enough to get everyone from all the different programs to start talking to each other. In addition, the campus and programs are pretty small, so you are running into the same persons over and over again. I actually interacted a lot with people from other programs.

I think the social events were extremely fun and really helped me to get to know all the people around. Also, the faculty were extremely understanding people and our peers very friendly and helpful.

I don't think I would be able to replicate this experience anywhere else. I was happy to live in a country where I was speaking Spanish on a daily basis, the city is beautiful and the location of the school central. I am glad I did it and I actually recommend it to a lot of my friends that are trying to figure out what they will do after the bachelor.

Some months after the Master's, you started working at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as a Data Scientist. Do you think the program helped you to get this job?

There are, at least, three different elements I think helped me to secure the job. The first one is having a Master's in Finance. I think it is easier to get more technical jobs when you have a Master’s, especially in the United States because the bachelor market is pretty short here. I also think that the international experience of studying abroad was a key factor to demonstrate I can adapt to new situations comfortably. And the last element is the technical skills I acquired. Even though I was not directly doing Data Science, in the Finance Program I was always looking at numbers, optimizations, and statistical problems. There are not many Finance Programs that are as quantitative as the one of BSE is. The course materials are really solid and although the Master's is focused on applications, it is firmly grounded on the theory. When I started learning data science, the theoretical foundations that I had acquired at BSE helped me to easily understand the theory behind machine learning algorithms. I think that these three factors and my background of applying statistics in different fields really helped me secure that job.

Which are your tasks and responsibilities there?

I primarily work on risk modeling in dashboard creation. My tasks consist of predicting anomalies or identifying the front through either unsupervised algorithms or supervised learning algorithms. I also have worked on natural language processes in different projects and had to read about users' responses. At a high level, I am one of the first Data Scientists to come to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. It is a small community and the specific infrastructures are extremely small.

Could you talk about the skills you acquired in the Finance Program?

The rigor of the Master's was helpful and got me prepared to work in large independent projects but also group projects. The Master's workload prepared me to handle work. The things I learned in the Master's are being of application in my job right now, but also importantly the way I went to learn things in the Master's is the way I now go about when learning new things in my current job. The workload of the Master's is not easy to handle, but I think the infrastructure in place at BSE is very well designed and suited to the task, so students can get it done.

Connect with Abinav Kumar on LinkedIn

Learn more about the Master's Program in Finance