Life as a Ca’ Foscari alumni: Francesco, from San Giobbe to London to work in finance

After graduating from Ca’ Foscari at the Department of Economics, Francesco Brunello, born in 1992, works in London as a financial analyst for one of the main Italian banks, Unicredit.
“Each day I was lucky enough to sit on a desk in the very heart of the second financial capital of the world, London, thanks to Ca’ Foscari, a university which really enhances talent”.

How old are you and what do you study?
I turned 25 in May. I grew up in Mestre and I have recently moved to London where I work as a financial analyst at Unicredit. I am still enrolled in the IMEF professional Master programme that I started last year and that will officially end this Fall.

Can you tell us more about your academic experience at Ca’ Foscari?
I have always studied as a proud student of the Department of Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice: first with the Bachelor’s programme in Economics and Business and a Master’s programme in development of economics and business (entrepreneurship and business curriculum), followed by a 2nd level professional Master’s programme, IMEF. Furthermore I spent six months at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver studying the TSX Venture Exchange - the first financial market for start ups! - thanks to an Overseas grant offered by Ca’ Foscari. It was a fantastic experience that I would recommend to everyone.
As for extracurricular activities, I can say I have done a lot. I was an academic tutor for two of the most difficult courses for economics students: political economics and (most of all) econometrics, with prof. Currarini and prof. Billio. Standing on the other side of the desk in front of more than a hundred students for almost six months was a real challenge, fun and educational. I also collaborated with several students’ associations, especially as an executive member of Invenicement Ca’ Foscari - a great association for economics students - which I helped develop. It is difficult to say what course I liked the best, but I would say writing my Master’s programme dissertation under prof. Pelizzon’s direction was the most difficult yet the most satisfying and instructive task I handled as a student.

Did you win any awards as a student or as a graduate?
2017 has been an incredible year so far: I have won the ”Impact Graduate Program” at Unicredit obtaining a permanent position and the opportunity to be part of a top training programmes in one of the biggest Italian banks. I have also been selected among the first 100 young Italian talents by “The Boston Consulting Group” as part of “The Future Makers 2017”. I was awarded the “Giorgio Mortara” grant and then a study grant by the Bank of Italy. These were great satisfactions as I fought a tough fight with many students from the best international universities - for a total of almost ten thousand coming from Europe, Asia and North America for Impact! My greatest success still is making people close to me, especially my parents, proud of me.

Where do you live and what is your job?
I currently live in London and work an analyst in the financial market department at Unicredit. I have many duties that will evolve throughout the Graduate Program to give me 360 degree vision of the bank and Investment Banking in general. One of the most interesting projects I am working on regards the transformation of financial markets: there are many challenges and everyday you learn a lot.

How is your typical day like?
My day starts early: I had to be at the office before 7am a few times; it depends on the events awaiting during the day.
Days are filled with meetings and briefings, many of which are done through video conferences, to communicate and coordinate ourselves with other teams from other headquarters of the bank, mainly Milan and Munich. I enjoy that a lot because you can learn a lot and interact with many international colleagues, including top managers. Obviously there is a lot of computer work to manage projects and deliver their results to my team. The end of the day does not follow a specific schedule: sometimes you may leave early, a little after the markets closes; sometimes a little bit later...

Which were the most important challenges and outcomes in your experience?
There are currently three forces that are shaking the financial industry: an ever more stringent regulation, unusually low interest-rates and a race towards innovation which is a disruptive factor in the financial field. Add to that Brexit and imagine these forces in the ecosystem of a bank in a continent full of differences and peculiarities that is Europe… Needless to say that we have faced many challenges on a daily basis, especially those who, like me, work on strategy. The first challenge regarded the dynamics of the financial markets from a bank and a pan-European perspective like the one I work in. For the outcomes, I hesitate between my first working day in Milan when I personally met Unicredit CEO, Jean-Pierre Mustier, my first working day in London when I saw for the first time the endless trading floor like the ones you see in Hollywood films, and when I successfully presented the results of my first mission to my job.

Imagine yourself as a testimonial for the next promotion campaign of Ca’ Foscari: what would your message be?
Everyday I am lucky enough to sit in front of this desk in this financial capital, and I have to thank Ca’ Foscari, a university that enhances talent thanks to its prestigious name, great professors and the many opportunities it offers, enabling you to efficiently prepare for a difficult present and hopefully a more serene future. Statistics are proving this point and I am not just talking about economics: I am happy to see that many of Ca’ Foscari students and graduates my own age are also enjoying great work and research outcomes in Italy and abroad.
Naturally students too bear responsibility and I would give three tips to get the best out of your academic career:
1) Study and work hard in class and on books and get good grades in exams, and in the thesis. It will be your business card so give your all and you will be rewarded.
2) Do not be lazy, seize all the opportunities especially extracurricular that come your way: Erasmus/Overseas, internships abroad, tutoring, workshops, additional courses, seminars, student associations… You will find the right one for you and the more sacrifices the more instructive they will be.
3) Step outside your comfort zone: look for challenges, difficult and tiring ones, and face them without fear of failing. You will learn a lot whatever the outcome is.
And if you need more pieces of advice, do not hesitate to write to me.

What has changed between yourself now and the way you were on your first day of university?
Many, even though I can say I have remained true to myself: this is very important too. The greatest difference is my eagerness to know and understand things from an ever changing perspective and to face new challenges all the time.

What is on top of your to-do list?
I am focusing on the Graduate Program that I started recently: I want to make the most of all the opportunities it gives me. So on top of my list it reads “learning, learning and learning more”. I would like to work in New York for a little while… We will see if Unicredit will send me there.

Do you have projects for the future?
There are countless opportunities and we will see where they carry me. At the moment I am not limiting myself but I would be glad if I could help my country with my knowledge and skills one day. The only clear project I have in the future is to build a family... and I am working on that too!