Interviews with alumnae: Anastasiya Kizima

3 minute read

I started my career in FX Derivatives at Merrill Lynch. This was a full-time role, which I managed alongside my full-time undergraduate studies (in Finance, with an Economics minor) in NYC. 

Upon graduating I knew that, while it had been a great few years, I wanted to try something new. With this in mind, I chased down an opportunity in Italy and began working for a travel startup based in Florence. This role took me to more than 15 countries across Europe and, while it officially focused on strategy and business development, in true startup fashion it often had the ‘all hands on deck’ approach. I had already come from quite an entrepreneurial household, but this was when I fell in love with the idea of starting and running a business myself.

After Italy, I decided to return to New York to expand my skills and increase the impact my work made. At the time, most of the startups I knew of were technology-focused and I thought my Finance background would not be of much help. Instead, I began volunteering with startups to gain entrepreneurial experience and joined Moody’s Corporation full time. At Moody’s, I began working on projects aimed at developing, testing and implementing new technologies across the firm. The role had a very steep learning curve and required me to understand all of our key process flows. From this, I quickly began to see that financial service and technology had an overlap and, if executed correctly, this could alleviate many pain points.

I spent several years at Moody’s identifying and correcting internal issues through close work with the senior management, operations and technology teams. Several technologies we implemented were rolled out globally and are still in use today. In the evenings and during my weekends I volunteered with several initiatives around the city aimed at career coaching and education for the inner city youth, the World Trade Center rebuilding efforts, and continuously sought out founders and startups to connect with.

As I planned ahead, I applied and was accepted onto the MBA programme at Saïd Business School, where I focused on strategy and entrepreneurship. During this time I also focused on fintech and quickly began to see how I could leverage my own background and experience to drive innovation. 

After a fantastic year at Oxford, I decided to stay in London because it is the global fintech hub and the city is saturated with entrepreneurs. I was originally averse to returning to a large bank, but then understood that the industry is shifting and is collaborating with startups more and more. With this in mind, I joined Barclays and, after a year of research while on a Regulatory Strategy team, I took a promotion and pivoted into innovation. I now work with entrepreneurs, fintech and technology vendors to initiate, organise and manage proof-of-concept and pilot projects and deliver innovative solutions.

Leaving Oxford I was concerned about finding a similarly inspiring and mentally stimulating environment. Working with innovative individuals and entrepreneurs has been a game changer and I now find that often my work and my personal interests are one and the same, which makes for long days that fly by in a blink of an eye. 

As I look ahead, I continue to focus on ways I can increase my impact through what I do. While I continue to volunteer with mentorship, impact and sustainable investment and coaching startups, I am now also spending quite a bit of time developing an idea with my co-founder and am excited to see where this journey takes us.