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About Success Builder

How do you find your place in life? How do you find something to do that both comes naturally to you and makes you happy? The answer is that you have to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from university and from life itself correctly. The Success Builder Project features HSE University graduates who have discovered themselves through an interesting business or an unexpected profession. The protagonists share their experiences and lessons learnt and talk about how they’ve made the most of the opportunities they were given.

For Daria Morozova, who holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s from HSE FES, economics is the love of a lifetime. She looks forward to Mondays and going to her office at Rosbank, where she serves as the Head of Retail Business Analysis and Planning within the Financial Management Department. In this interview with Success Builder, Daria shares how she was able to manifest her dream of becoming a film director while pursuing a degree in economics, how combining work at a bank and study at HSE helped her find solutions to workplace challenges, and how she came to realise that preventing employee burnout is essential in leading a team.

What attracted you to HSE University’s FES programme?

My reasons for enrolling were straightforward: I aimed for high-quality education with promising prospects that could leverage my passion for both mathematics and the English language. I certainly wasn't driven by an interest in economics, as I had a very limited understanding of this field at the time. But I had a strong desire to explore my two favourite subjects in-depth, and the HSE FES economics programme featured both of them as core components. Plus, HSE is obviously a top-tier university in its field. It was in my first year of study that I started grasping the essence of economics as a science, and in the second year, I developed a genuine passion for it.

My enthusiasm for economics and finance was largely driven by the engaging lectures and the multifaceted and captivating depth of the course material, so that the more I learned, the more compelled I felt to learn even more.

My enthusiasm for economics caught me by surprise. During high school, my aspirations revolved around becoming a film director, and I was preparing myself for a career in filmmaking

But opting for this fundamental and considerably practical field of study was certainly not a mistake: today, I am fully immersed in the sphere of finance; nothing else captures my interest as much. To a large extent, I credit HSE University for my mind's rapid adaptation to the new subject, where I found a wealth of novel and fascinating aspects. At HSE, they truly know how to engage students by presenting new career opportunities and supporting both academic and personal growth.

What about expressing your creative talents? Economics appears to be an inherently rigorous discipline.

I would disagree, because creativity and imagination are essential for research. When the objective is to analyse data or to formulate a hypothesis, one needs to explore new areas of assumptions for better comprehension and reasoning. Creative skills are essential in identifying the various factors that can impact a specific process, because creativity is what can ultimately serve as a catalyst for birthing new ideas. I was also able to tap into my potential as an aspiring film director during my studies at HSE. At some point, I served on the Student Council and produced promotional videos for its projects, until I became captivated by economics and finance. Eventually, I secured a job and was excited to fully engage with professional challenges.

Were you able to find an interesting job right away?

Initially, I had a vague idea of potential employment avenues for economists. Some students take up employment in their second or third year of study and can provide insights into specific companies or sectors; connecting with alumni and asking them to share their experiences is also helpful. Gradually, you develop an understanding of how things work in the industry. The most popular employment sectors for economics students are consulting, auditing, and investment banking, but my first internship was with Nike's finance department. I submitted my resume to the HSE Career Fair, then they called me back and invited me to one of the final internship stages. If I remember correctly, more than 300 candidates had applied for that vacancy. Following the interview, I was admitted to the finance department, where I had my first encounter with practical financial modelling. The tasks and tools of the job appeared rather straightforward, and eventually I decided that working in the real sector had limited potential for a financier.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

After the summer internship, I returned to my studies and completed an internship as a specialist with Sovcombank. Interestingly, Nike later offered me the position of financial controller, but I declined, because I already understood quite well that my full potential could only be realised in banking finance.

How much more extensive are a specialist’s responsibilities in the financial sector?

The financial sector must comply with highly specific reporting requirements concerning income and expense categories, balance sheet components, and business performance metrics. Banks generate revenue by providing financial services, all of which must adhere to rigorous regulatory standards. My work contributes to the bank's stability, ensuring its liquidity and operational efficiency. Rosbank is a systemically important bank, which means that its stability plays a pivotal role in maintaining the overall financial stability of the country. My responsibilities often involve managing data, employing financial and macro analysis, and constructing complex models. I am aware of the importance of my work, and it motivates me. I can see the impact of my efforts and my role in the bank's operations, which supports my interest in the tasks at hand. It keeps me looking forward to Mondays.

How does university education align with the requirements for candidates seeking employment in the banking sector?<

The core knowledge required for banking specialists naturally includes subjects such as banking, IFRS and RAS reporting standards, micro- and macroeconomics, econometrics, and statistics. These are the tools that we or our colleagues use in our daily work. Something particularly helpful during the initial stages of my career was the foundational understanding of macroeconomics taught to us by Tatyana Matveeva, who used her unique teaching methodology. Understanding the causes and consequences of the Central Bank's monetary policy is an essential skill for early-career bankers. Comprehending the mechanics of financial markets and the pricing dynamics of banking products helped me adjust to my work responsibilities promptly and successfully.

Econometrics is useful in managing data, yet our primary focus revolves around financial modelling, and we actively collaborate with colleagues from other departments who construct regression models. Understanding the diverse responsibilities across all divisions of the bank is key to effective collaboration. While pursuing my master's degree and concurrently working at Raiffeisenbank, I sometimes experienced situations where colleagues at work presented me with problems that could only be resolved using formulas which I did not yet understand—but during the evening class at HSE the same day, the lecturer explained that very formula. The exhilarating emotions I felt during my studies back then are beyond words.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

It was rewarding to draw parallels between practice and academic knowledge. Gaining insights from research and witnessing the extensive use of technical tools helped me realise the significance of my own skills and contributed to my self-confidence as a professional. I have personally witnessed that our education truly synergises with the expectations of financial institutions regarding prospective specialists.

I recommend that students proactively review the prerequisites for positions that interest them. HSE may already be offering elective or optional courses which can help them develop the relevant skills and thus acquire an advantage when applying for a job. For instance, I neglected to enrol in VBA and SQL courses back then, even though they were highly desirable for my profession. As a result, prior to applying for a position at Raiffeisenbank, I had to independently learn these programming languages.

After Sovcombank, you moved on to work at Raiffeisenbank. Did you notice any difference between the Russian institution and the international one?

Each bank has its unique advantages. In some, early-career specialists might be offered more diversified roles; in others, there could be a range of in-house recreational activities and comprehensive VMI coverage. In others still, the salary may be above average, and in certain cases, all of the above could be available. The corporate culture at international companies has long been regarded as a kind of gold standard. Nevertheless, numerous modern Russian companies have since embraced the best practices of their foreign counterparts, blending these standards with their own. I don't believe there's a substantial divergence in corporate culture among banks today, so I would advise candidates to focus on the job responsibilities, making sure these are engaging and can lead to further career opportunities. Also, of course, workplace colleagues make a real difference in terms of job satisfaction. They can either undermine the impression of a well-established corporate culture or bring joy to your workdays at a company which is only starting to build its culture. But there is no way to predict who you are going to work with.

What prompted your decision to pursue a master's degree? How did this impact your competencies and your employer's perception of you?

Given that I was already working at a bank, it made logical sense to enrol in the Financial Markets and Financial Institutions programme. Naturally, I did not consider any other universities apart from HSE, as I firmly believed that there was nowhere better to receive an education. My master's degree certainly played a role in securing a position with Rosbank, although my prior experience in the banking sector was even more important.

When a potential employer sees a degree from HSE on your resume, it is often regarded as a strong indicator of a promising specialist. The HSE brand has consistently opened doors for me during job interviews

Personally, I have conducted numerous interviews with a variety of applicants, including interns, specialists, and candidates for higher-level positions. When a prospective candidate holds a degree from the HSE Faculty of Economics, the likelihood of the interview going successfully increases significantly. HSE graduates stand out significantly from most other applicants due to their excellent performance on test assignments, exceptional communication skills, and strong willingness to collaborate within a team environment. Plus, finding a common language with them comes easily to me, as we share the same values instilled by HSE—which seamlessly align with Rosbank's well-cultivated corporate culture. While strong candidates can come from any university and we make an effort to assess all applicants, based on my personal interview statistics, I've compiled a list of universities, institutes, and faculties that almost certainly ensure a favourable interview outcome for their graduates.

How do you apply your academic skills in your current role, especially skills related to fundamental research?

A research-oriented approach, good mastery of information handling methods, and logical thinking are indispensable in analytical work. The more adept you are at searching for and processing information, drawing well-reasoned conclusions, and broadly applying analytical skills, the more valuable you become as an employee and the greater your positive contribution to the functionality of your department. For instance, when writing a thesis, one must demonstrate the ability to navigate the chosen subject, formulate a hypothesis, process and interpret data, and above all, arrive at accurate conclusions. This experience also proves helpful in many of my work assignments.

What factors contributed to your rapid advancement to the position of division head after joining Rosbank?

It unfolded gradually; I did not in fact experience a rapid career leap. At Rosbank, I initially transitioned from a specialist role to the position of Senior Manager within the Retail Business Analysis and Planning Office, which was part of the bank's retail business segment. But my true passion was finance, and with the introduction of structural changes, an opportunity opened up for me to move to the Financial Management Department. After a while, and owing perhaps to my contribution on the job, I was promoted to the role of Head of Retail Business Performance Analysis.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

Gradually, I assembled a small team of young specialists whom we decided to train and cultivate within the bank. Initially, my role was primarily that of a mentor; however, the scope of my responsibilities eventually expanded, and the team also grew as we merged with other divisions. Eventually, I became Head of the Retail Business Performance Analysis Office, overseeing financial management across all sectors of the retail business. Our office consists of three teams: credit business, non-credit business, and car loans.

The current stage of my career is not solely a result of my educational background and professional accomplishments. I also attribute it to Rosbank's distinct corporate culture, which places significant emphasis on nurturing the professional growth of specialists within the organisation. Rosbank is all about caring for people, both customers and its own employees. It is incredibly empowering. My supervisors inspire me through their supportive attitude and professionalism. They trust me and consistently provide opportunities for me to push my boundaries. It is hard to envision a better environment for professional growth than what Rosbank offers.

Working with a team requires specific communication and leadership skills. How did you cope with the new challenges?

When I was offered the role of mentor for junior employees, I was under the impression that being a natural leader, I would handle it effortlessly and everything would fall into place on its own. It turned out that my assumptions were wrong, and this role required skills that I needed to develop. There are numerous methods of team management, and I learned these on the job. It is essential to motivate the team appropriately and allocate the roles competently, ensuring that each employee remains engaged while avoiding overwork and burnout. Every team member should have a chance to demonstrate their abilities and to feel trusted.

As a manager, you must consider numerous facets of team dynamics to maintain its stability, ensuring that valuable employees are retained

To achieve this, it is crucial to build your team in a way that promotes cohesiveness and a shared commitment to results. We continually engage in mutual feedback, conduct meetings and events centred around information sharing, and organise training seminars for the entire finance vertical. We also make an effort to spend leisure time together and take breaks from work-related challenges. There are numerous approaches to fostering team unity, a crucial element in cultivating a favourable atmosphere.

Personally, I find it extremely important to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. I didn't initially get it right; I encountered a situation where certain employees experienced burnout due to excessive workload and delayed vacations, and I failed to recognise it. I also struggled to fully trust my team and avoided delegating responsibilities, ultimately leading to my own experience of burnout. I made a number of mistakes as a manager, but becoming aware of them, seeking feedback from employees, supervisors, and mentors, reading books, and attending training sessions have all helped me improve in this aspect. When you have a team under your leadership, it becomes exceptionally important to evolve as a leader. The well-being, job satisfaction, and overall effectiveness of your team members hinge on your proficiency in this role. Therefore, what defines a competent leader is a combination of experience, training, and the ability to recognise and rectify one's mistakes.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

Another aspect that has helped my development has been the advice and encouragement of my supervisors. I consider myself fortunate to have open-minded supervisors who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. Their support has essentially provided me with a form of in-house MBA. I try to follow their example and similarly empower my team.

To what extent does the finance industry embrace collaboration with universities, particularly in terms of sharing expertise and encouraging industry practitioners to deliver lectures?

Rosbank runs a university engagement project that includes a range of activities. For example, we take students on tours of our head office at the OKO Office Tower and offer master classes. I have personally made contributions by delivering short lectures, conducting master classes, and facilitating financial games in which students solve problems similar to those my colleagues and I deal with in the workplace. These activities allow students to step into the shoes of a finance office employee in order to better understand the purpose of their education and their actual interest in the potential future career.

I enjoy working with the interns whom we actively train and nurture within our department. A few of them have progressed to the role of junior specialists due to their workplace achievements. For me, sharing knowledge and experience brings immense joy, so my colleagues and I regularly organise in-house training events for bank employees. Fostering communication between the industry and academia is an important contribution to society. I regard it as a great advantage for students as prospective employees of the finance sector, and I firmly believe that bridging the gap between theory and practice requires proactive efforts on both sides.