How An Investment Management MBA Can Fast Track Your Finance Career |

How An Investment Management MBA Can Fast Track Your Finance Career

By Stephanie L

Updated February 2, 2021 Updated February 2, 2021

Sponsored by the John Molson School of Business’ Goodman Institute of Investment Management

The MBA vs the CFA is a dilemma many financial professionals face. In what is becoming an increasingly competitive sector to break into, further professional development like the MBA or CFA is almost always a prerequisite for those who are both new to the field and those who are ready to move up the career ladder, but choosing the right one isn’t straightforward.

The MBA and CFA are both highly sought-after and highly regarded finance accreditations – but they do have their distinctive differences. In recent years, program partnerships like Concordia University’s John Molson MBA and CFA charter, are an efficient pathway for financial professionals to work towards both qualifications at once.

For Ze Han Shen and Pallavi Balakrishnan, the MBA in Investment Management was the ideal solution. We spoke with them to find out more about their experience studying the MBA and CFA, alongside full-time work, and how it’s helped accelerate their careers in investment management and commercial banking.

Getting ahead as an equity research analyst 

Ze Han, a current MBA in Investment Management student, always had a keen interest in investment management.

While relevant work experience is not a requirement for the John Molson MBA in Investment Management, Ze Han was a business development associate for a major Canadian financial institution before embarking on the MBA where he split his time between business development activities and assisting clients with their financial objectives and planning. 

“I was planning to work hard and climb the ladder to get there eventually, but I quickly realized that this route was no longer viable in today’s market and that I needed earn my credentials in order to break in,” he said. 

That was when Ze Han began his search for a degree which would give him the edge he needed to break into investment management.

“The John Molson MBA in Investment Management program, offered by the Goodman Institute is the only one in Canada that allowed me to simultaneously work towards both MBA and CFA designations, while gaining three years of full-time experience, without sacrificing potential earnings – with all of this combined, it was an obvious choice for me,” he explained. 

“The program demonstrates practical examples to supplement the CFA curriculum and brings out the strategy and management aspect of business, which is essential skill for an investment analyst, but is not covered in the CFA curriculum,” he added.  

Although the prospect of balancing full-time work and the MBA was daunting at first, Ze Han is confident it was still the right decision and that it would “prepare me for the reality of a future career in finance.”

Throughout the MBA, and with the support of the faculty’s career center and faculty resources, Ze Han has undertaken a number of internships which have ended up preparing him for his current role as an equity research analyst at a large Canadian pension fund. He credits studying the MBA, CFA and full-time work for taking his learning “to another level”.

“I was able to engage in more meaningful discussions in the classroom and bring new ideas from the classroom to the workplace,” he said.

While challenging at times, Ze Han reflects on his MBA experience, telling us how it “has been one of the best decisions I made in my life” and has helped him realized that investment management is his “true calling”.

Launching a career in commercial banking


2018 MBA in Investment Management graduate, Pallavi Balakrishnan


After graduating from the MBA in Investment Management in 2018, Pallavi Balakrishnan successfully launched a career in commercial banking.

With previous experience in accounting, Pallavi knew she wanted to move across into the world of finance and banking eventually, but the opportunity came about quicker than she’d anticipated.

“Towards the end of the MBA I was looking for the next challenge in my career,” she said. “Through networking with people in the bank and industry at large, I came across opportunities in commercial banking.”

The rigorous training gave Pallavi the confidence to move from accounting into finance. It also gave her a competitive advantage when it came to the job market and networking.

Now a manager in commercial banking, Pallavi manages banking relationships for business clients. Acquiring new clients while identifying and understanding business needs in order to provide financial advice accordingly is all part of the job which allows her to “utilize the financial analysis skills and knowledge I developed in the MBA as well as enhances soft skills such as relationship building and management as well as business development.”

When asked in what ways she thinks the MBA helped her to get where she is today, she credits the extensive focus on the CFA materials, as well as additional prep classes and assignments which gave her a solid understanding of the material and topic.

Researching which program is right for you and your career ambitions can take a long time, but in Pallavi’s case it seems to have paid off.

Looking back at how she came to the John Molson MBA in Investment Management, it was the ability to still be able to work while earning two well-recognized qualifications. And although challenging at times, she’s grateful for the support that was on-hand.

The support I had through study groups with my peers as well as additional CFA training sessions and exam simulations that were organized by the school provided rigorous training and the motivation I needed to successfully complete the program,” she said.

Lead image credit: Allen McInnis for Concordia University/Goodman Institute of Investment Management

This article was originally published in November 2020 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for and, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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