Over the past five years, WorldQuant has hosted more than 10 scholars from the IFC-Milken Capital Markets Program, which was set up by the International Finance Corp. and Milken Institute to provide an opportunity for mid-career professionals from developing economy governments to study capital markets and work at a financial firm in the U.S. Our most recent scholars, Esi Monney and Hauwa Danmadami, share their professional experiences, best advice for people early in their careers and their favorite parts of interning at WorldQuant.
Where did you attend college and graduate school, and what did you study?
Esi: I attended Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and studied banking and finance. I then went to the University of Birmingham in the UK for my master’s degree in investments.
Hauwa: I studied economics at Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria. For graduate school, I attended the University of Adelaide in South Australia, where I studied finance and business economics.
Tell us about your professional journey and work experiences.
Esi: I have been working with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Ghana for the past eight years with the Fund Management Department — where I focus on ensuring compliance of the law by asset managers, custodians, collective investment schemes and trustees.
Hauwa: I started my career at the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission and have been there ever since. My job entails licensing of capital market operators (for example, stock brokers, accountants and financial advisers). We perform checks on firms and individuals interested in carrying out capital market activities. The checks include analysis of firms’ financial health, as well as individuals’ educational backgrounds and work experience. I was transferred to the Office of the Chief Economist after my graduate studies, and there I was actively involved in coming up with recommendations to aid management policymaking, managing the Commission’s data bank and publishing a statistical bulletin and policy briefs — analyzing the latest economic development and its impact on the capital market.
How has working in your country been similar or different than working in the U.S.?
Esi: I’ve observed that in both countries, my employers took deadlines seriously. However, addressing people by their first names is not common in my country. Most people, especially those in a higher rank, are addressed formally, while colleagues may be addressed informally.
Hauwa: The similarity of working in the U.S. and in my country is that these days, it is almost all virtual — at least during this time. The difference I have noticed is that here in the U.S., individuality is encouraged. Employees are allowed to express themselves freely, which is not always the case back home. Like Esi, I noticed that the relationship between employees is somewhat informal; you can address your superiors by their first names.
Can you describe the IFC-Milken Institute Capital Markets Program?
Esi: The IFC-Milken Institute Capital Markets Program is a four-month curriculum at the George Washington University, where scholars are taken through a rigorous program in Capital Markets, Instruments and Institutions; Corporate Finance and Risk Management; Capital Markets, Financial Crises and the Global Economy; and Quantitative Thinking for Policymakers. Upon successful completion of coursework, scholars undertake an additional four months at an internship to put into practice what has been learned during their coursework.
Hauwa: The program trains developing and emerging economies’ mid-career policymakers from financial regulatory bodies, central banks, ministries of finance and exchanges around the world. Following the business school coursework, the four-month internships enable participants to gain a private sector perspective on capital market management and regulation, and witness U.S. market-based practices in action.
WorldQuant provides the needed support for both personal and career development.
What has it been like to intern at WorldQuant?
Esi: One of the projects that I worked on during my WorldQuant internship was developing a thought leadership article on the impact of COVID-19 on sub-Saharan Africa. Writing the article sharpened my research skills and provided insights into how the pandemic has affected my region and what can be done to ensure that it achieves economic growth to sustain its growing population.
Hauwa: My experience at WorldQuant has been enlightening. I have gained an understanding of capital market operations from the viewpoint of practitioners, which has been complementary to my regulatory point of view. We also had a chance to interact with people across the firm and learn more about the business.
What was your favorite part of your internship?
Esi: Workshops organized by the company as well as Keystone Forum — a biweekly meeting bringing together all employees from around the world. At this meeting, senior management and different employees present and discuss WorldQuant’s latest innovations.
Hauwa: It is hard to choose a favorite because I loved everything we did — from the Lunch-and-Learn sessions where we met WorldQuant leaders informally, to the Keystone Forum and the Bridgestone Forum — another biweekly meeting for researchers globally to share their ideas.
What is your best advice for people just starting out their careers?
Esi: Build relationships and expand your network to get access to opportunities. Also, every task should be seen as an opportunity to learn something new.
Hauwa: Have confidence in yourself, and make sure you also connect with a mentor in the workplace or even outside of it.
If you had to describe WorldQuant in one word, what would it be and why?
Esi: Supportive. I believe that WorldQuant provides the needed support for both personal and career development. During my internship, we attended a speaker series organized by my manager. The speakers from around the firm made time to share their knowledge and experiences and offered to answer any questions, giving me a deeper understanding of how WorldQuant operates. The mentorship I received from my manager was also excellent.
Hauwa: Amazing. First, I was lucky to work with a manager who made sure we learned as much as possible about the inner workings of the whole firm, while working remotely. I hope to make good use of all that knowledge and contribute to the development of our capital markets in Nigeria.