Giorgos Karafokas

Giorgos Karafokas
Class Year
Larnaca, Cyprus
Areas of Interest
Financial Economics
Previous Education
Imperial College

Why did you choose Columbia Business School?

During my studies at Imperial, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in finance but wanted a more rigorous training to complement my background. I joined the MSFE program at Columbia Business School directly after my undergraduate program because I could pursue a doctorate-level education in shorter timeframe, and also because New York is the center of business. Being in the finance capital of the world gave me the opportunity to meet young professionals throughout the year while completing my degree.

Although my goal initially was to pursue a job as a traditional quant, I explored many different avenues along the way. The program permits students to work while studying, and I took advantage of this perk as much as I could. Since the summer of 2018, I worked at different asset management firms and banks in a variety of roles.

How would you describe your experience of the MSFE program?

Coming to Columbia Business School with an engineering background, I found the program overwhelming at first. Professors kept raising the bar, and courses were very demanding. However, the daily discussions we had with other students made the learning much more pleasant. Faculty members were also very approachable and encouraged discussion during classes, which enhanced the experience. The small size of the class was an additional benefit since the professors knew the students on a first-name basis.

Moreover, attending an MBA or even an Executive MBA class is a vital reason to come to Columbia Business School. It enriched my academic experience. Interacting with other business school students gave me a different perspective about the culture of the finance industry and reset my expectations. I met with successful professionals and developed strong connections that will allow me to navigate myself into Wall Street.

How did the MSFE program prepare you for your current role?

I currently work at Morgan Stanley with the Financial Engineering/Quantitative Investment Strategies team, where I interned part-time during my final semester. Overall my experience at Columbia prepared me to succeed in a professional environment by developing problem solving skills, working in teams, and managing my time to meet deadlines. The “Continuous Time Finance” course is directly applicable to my job given the unique structure of my role, while the QIS part requires the same systematic approach and analytical thinking you apply in econometrics, asset pricing, and in every research aspect of the degree.

Do any faculty members and/or their courses stand out from your time at Columbia Business School?

The program director always had his door open and made me feel welcome and part of the Columbia community. He would encourage students to discuss with him any issues they had, listen to their concerns, and offer suggestions. As an international student, this was very helpful in making my transition into the community easier, especially since this was my first time in New York.