Eye on Alumni: Ozan Akbas '19


Ozan Akbas '19 (Finance) is a PhD student at the Warwick Business School. Ozan knew he wanted to do empirical work in his career, and the Master's Program in Finance served as a foundation for understanding the necessary econometric tools.

Which were the reasons for applying for the master’s right after your undergraduate studies in Economics?

After my bachelor's studies in Economics, I wanted to learn about Finance. I was interested in the academic field in general, but I didn’t want to do a “business school” type master’s in finance. So, I found the BSE Finance Program. I liked the fact that besides the compulsory courses in the two main areas of finance (asset pricing, corporate finance), I could also take elective courses in econometrics and in machine learning with a lot of programming components and a high level of mathematical rigour. In the end, I decided such a curriculum would help me prepare myself for a potential research position in the future.

Which skills did you acquire in the Finance Program?

I didn’t have much experience working specifically with financial data before I came to the Barcelona School of Economics, but then I was introduced to valuable data sources. Furthermore, I learned a lot about financial time series, volatility models, and risk measures, particularly how to interpret different risk indicators through methods commonly implemented in the industry. Among many interesting courses that I took, Financial Econometrics definitely stands out. Overall, I knew that I wanted to do empirical work in my career, and the Master’s Program in Finance served as a foundation for understanding the necessary econometric tools.

How was your relationship with your classmates?

I was in an international cohort of 28 students in the Finance Program. In fact, the international aspect was one of the main reasons why I decided to come to the BSE. I met many incredible people from all over the world and built good friendships. The overall social aspect of my year studying the master's was very fulfilling and culturally enriching. Not to mention the fact that I was living in the beautiful city of Barcelona.

After the master's at the BSE, you worked in the European Investment Bank (EIB). How did it go?

I started working as a trainee in the Economics Department. I had seen the job listing on the BSE Career Services platform, and I applied through that portal. During the traineeship, my task was systematising and standardising granular firm survey data for future research projects. After the traineeship, I worked as a consultant in the same team on several research reports studying topics like information asymmetries in bank lending, access to credit during Covid, and financial constraints of SMEs. Overall, it was a very challenging yet rewarding experience. I learnt a lot about research at the intersection of finance and development.

Could you apply what you learned from the master's?

Yes! The majority of my tasks involved empirical analysis of data for various research questions. The loan default and capital structure literature we had studied in the risk management and corporate finance courses served as a guide for me to clearly understand those specific research questions and hence helped me determine the proper methodology for such analysis. I relied on my knowledge of shrinkage/regularization tools, which I obtained at the Barcelona School of Economics, on a few occasions as well. All in all, the Finance Program enabled me to smooth the learning curve when I was involved in various types of finance research.

You said you wanted to learn about Finance when applying for the master's at the BSE to prepare yourself for a potential research position in the future and now you got it. What does pursuing a PhD in Economics and Finance mean to you?

Certainly one of the contributing factors in deciding to pursue an MRes/PhD in Finance and Economics was my exposure to the two main areas of finance, asset pricing and corporate finance, at the BSE. The Finance Program helped me narrow down my research interests. Now, during my doctoral studies, I want to get exposure to the research frontier and develop a research agenda based on those interests. 

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> Learn more about the Master's Program in Finance