Breaking into Finance

Session Book Recommendations

The following books were recommended by the panelists:

Reginald F. Lewis & Blair S. Walker “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” Black Classic Press Publishing (2005)

Tom Burgis “The Looting Machine” PublicAffairs Publishing (2016)
Peter Chapman “Bananas” Canongate U.S. Publishing (2009)
Julian Guthrie “Alpha Girls” Currency Publishing (2019)
Louis Gerstner Jr. “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” Harper Business Publishing (2003)
Colin Powell “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” HarperLuxe Publishing (2012)

Answered Attendee Questions

The technical skills required is dependent on the part of finance – Investment Banking vs Sales/Trading vs Asset Management vs Operations vs Engineering. In terms of soft skills, the basics – communication, team work, leadership. Some others that are considered highly desirable are integrity, ability to work under pressure (and prioritize appropriately), and innovation (ability to challenge the norms and think outside of the box). Good judgement and attention to detail are also a plus.
The interview process is not a one-size fits all. Most times, there is no right answer. As an interviewer, apart from assessing the key competencies, a lot of the decision is based on do I trust you, do I think you be a good fit in the firm/division, how motivated and moldable are you – can you adapt and thrive in different environments or are you rigid? I think it’s very important whilst you focus on your technical and soft skills to not neglect your personality. In addition to that, I expect the candidate to be able to provide a well-rounded introduction and respond to questions in a clear and concise manner.
[Oluwakemisola] Personally I switched from Medical Physiology to Finance via a Master’s degree in Management. However, there are countless people in the industry without a finance related degree or a master’s degree. Please refer to “What are the steps to take to switch effectively from medicine to finance? What’s the strongest area(s) to focus on in order to get one’s foot in the door?” for more information around transitioning to Finance from a non-conventional degree.
My experience at Goldman Sachs has been phenomenal. There are two things that stand out most to me – pace/intensity and support/community. In my six years here I have been constantly challenged through the pace and intensity to push the boundaries on my abilities and strive for more. But more importantly, through these challenges the network of support from team members, managers, and mentors has been enormous. There is a strong community culture at Goldman which makes you feel like you are never really alone, through professional and personal challenges, there are always people willing to hold your hand and walk through storms with you.  The multicultural environment definitely plays a role in the development of transferable skills. The exposure to a wide range of people with different backgrounds, skills, interests provides the opportunity to learn and uniquely develop yourself. Unique in the sense that you can pick up the good values/habits from different people and incorporate that into your personal style/brand.
First things first, do a lot of research – what aspect of finance appeals to you? What role are you interested in and what are the entry requirements? What is the career path and prospects? How has the industry evolved in recent years, and what will it look like in 5-10 years? As much information as you can get, especially firsthand experience, will be valuable in making an informed decision. Additionally, this information will come handy during interviews, particularly in demonstrating your interest and commitment to the industry. Secondly, think about your experience in medical school and extracurricular activities – what soft skills have you developed, and make sure you are able to demonstrate these directly or through competency questions. If the role you are interested in requires numerical or a bit of technical knowledge, you need to be able to show that you have invested time to learning, and you have a willingness to learn more on the job. Most importantly, don’t stress. Firms are looking for diversity, so your non-conventional background could be an advantage if leveraged properly.

Panelists Profile


Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Verod Capital
Danladi is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Verod. Prior to founding Verod, Danladi held roles at Citibank Nigeria, Ocean and Oil Holdings and at McKinsey & Company. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School, an M.Sc. in Engineering Economic Systems & Operations Research from Stanford University and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Calvin College. He also sits on the board of the African Venture Capital Association (AVCA) and the Private Equity and Venture Capital Association of Nigeria (PEVCAN). He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014.


Principal, CardinalStone Capital Advisers
Shirley is a Principal at CCA where she is a member of the firm’s leadership team. Prior to CCA, Shirley served as a Vice President in the Principal Investments Division of CardinalStone Partners, where she was responsible for leading the investment team on investment execution and portfolio company oversight. Prior to CardinalStone, Shirley worked at Oliver Wyman in New York and Dubai. Shirley holds a B.Sc. degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Chief Investment Officer, The Keffi Group
Tom Northover runs the investment program of The Keffi Group, a New York based family office. Prior to joining Keffi, Tom was an investment banker in the financial institutions group of Lazard. He was also a founding investment team member of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the manager of Nigeria’s sovereign wealth funds, focused on their global investment mandate. Prior to this Tom worked as an economist in the Nigerian Presidency, seconded by the British Government to the Nigerian Government. Tom holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MSc. in Financial Economics and a BSc. In Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Warwick University in the UK.


Asst. Manager Banking & Finance, KPMG
Miwa is an Assistant Manager in the Financial Risk Management team at KPMG where she does advisory work for large financial institutions. She has 7 years of experience in Investment Banking and Business consulting which she has gained from Goldman Sachs and KPMG respectively and is an Enterprise Advisor for the Mayor of London on strategic business programs for schools in the United Kingdom. Outside of work, she is a female empowerment enthusiast and founded a thriving, fast-growing online community of working women which has over 8,000 members.


Executive Director Securities Division, Goldman Sachs
Oluwakemisola is an Executive Director in the Securities Division at Goldman Sachs. She joined the firm as an Analyst in 2014 and was named Vice President in 2019. She is the head of the Career Development Pillar of the Operations Black Network and a member of the People’s Council Knowledge Pillar. Oluwakemisola earned a bachelor’s degree in Medical Physiology from the University of Leicester and a master’s degree in Management from Warwick Business School.


Investment Director, CDC Group
Gozie is an Investment Director at CDC Group Plc, a development finance institution of the UK government that is focused on less-developed or fragile markets and on sectors most important for economic growth. Prior to joining CDC Group Plc, Gozie served as Consultant at Siemens & an Associate at KPMG. He holds a BSc from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School. He is also an Alumni of London Business School & a CFA Charter holder.