My InVhestia Competition Experience

I started my internship in late August 2019. My role was to help organize and facilitate the 4th InVhestia FAST Standard Financial Modelling Competition. I was very ‘green’ in aspects of finance, modelling, and everything related to the field. I did however, have a background in event organizing as the Vice President of AIESEC at my alma mater JKUAT. I had also helped organize the training for the 2017 edition of the InVhestia competition. So you can say I did know my way around when it came to events.

Coming from a background of Mechatronic Engineering, one would imagine that project management would be a lot less technical. I knew I could rely on my knowledge of student events, but I had to learn quickly that there is a science behind marketing, a voice that has been honed by InVhestia. There needed to be a balance between making things fun and suitable for student audience, but also maintain a level of formality and professionalism, if I can call it that.

As we approached different new universities, I was able to appreciate the diversity of Kenyan universities. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of administration personnel who are eager to give their students opportunities to learn outside of the standard curriculum. It felt like we all shared a common goal, to have financial modelling using the FAST Standard known by all students.

Here are my key takeaways from the competition:

  1. Be open minded

Another huge learning for me was not to close off your brain with regards to what you can or can’t do. Your background should not make you shy off from new challenges. My first task was to create a poster, something I had not done before. Stress! But once I got the right tools, it realized that I could do it. The same thing with social media; it was somewhat new for me, but again, the analytic tools helped me figure my way. Once I was in the zone, I was able to have an enjoyable experience.

I am glad I got to work in a corporate space. Here, you have to know what your plan is for every day so that you’re productive. My background was mostly field work, so I had to learn how to manage my time quite fast.

  1. Take the initiative

My first training was at UON. I thought all I had to do was plan and schedule the training, and that was it. That didn’t go as planned. My supervisor Nyambura asked me to talk about the competition in front of the students. It wasn’t something we had talked about so it caught me off-guard. I am not a public speaker, so it was quite honestly nerve-racking. However, it did also serve as an eye-opener. It pushed me to learn more things about the company and the competition. I saw the importance of knowing your stuff when talking to people so that you stand out as an authority.

The exposure I got at InVhestia was beneficial not just for me but the students I was interacting with too. They showed interest in and engaged more with the brand. It was evident that, for some, it was a once in a life-time kind of experience that pushed them to take the initiative. It was refreshing to see students looking to self-improve. It is not often that you see students take that kind of initiative. By the end of the campus tours, I had been added to quite a number of student WhatsApp groups. And I’m proud to say, mimi ni member!

  1. Patience

My other lesson was being patient! Each campus we went to had students who had different exposure as far as working in Excel. For some, building formula was a walk in the park but for others, we needed to go step by step, several times. This repetition also showed resilience in the students, their willingness to learn. By the third day of the competition, very few students had submitted their models. This was discouraging for me, especially because I had seen the excitement in the training sessions and groups. But in true Kenyan fashion, the submissions started flooding in on the last day, and the last hour, the last minute, to the last second. This year we had 92 submissions, which is the highest it’s ever been and I am very proud of that.

Final thoughts

What stood out for me was the impact that the FAST Standard Financial Modelling Competition has on students. You could see that they needed the exposure, and when they got it, they ran with it. Truth is, there were highs and lows, but the highs by far outweighed the lows. The marking is now ongoing and I am now excited to see the results and the impact in the lives of the students.

Written by Wangui Kinyori