London Connection Q&A: Oreste Signori

A London-based graduate's passion for the business side of the music industry led him on a search for an MSc that combined law and finance
Graduate Oreste Signori
"Once completed, the reward is immense": graduate Oreste Signori
The degree is very well envisaged and delivered; it is also unique in that it puts equal balance on both finance and the law

Could you tell us a bit about your career/educational background?
I am highly motivated, passionate and focused with experience of living, working and studying in different cultures. My experience, rooted in the music and media industries, is complemented by knowledge of corporate finance and law. I have gained experience supporting the development and delivery of several consumer services for market leading companies and emerging businesses in the UK, EU and Asia. 

Midway through my undergraduate studies I took a gap year and went to Japan to work and study the language. In Tokyo I met one of the directors of my current company and my career direction shifted from a purely music career to a more business oriented and entrepreneurial one. On my return from Japan I decided to complete my studies in London where I have been living for the past five years.

For the past four years I have been one of the directors of Axxe Limited, a boutique management consulting firm specialising in early stage ventures, strategy and business planning advisory services. My main area of specialisation lies in consumer oriented technological, media and entertainment services, but after the Masters I started increasingly collaborating with financial services firms.  

What motivated you to study for the MSc in Finance and Financial Law?
During my degree in Recording Arts from Middlesex University, UK,  I became very passionate about the business side of music and the music industry, particularly about mobile music business models and legal aspects of music business such as contracts, service development and planning and business valuation. This is the reason why, after graduating, I felt the need to deepen my knowledge both in terms of finance and law so to be better equipped to understand the dynamics of funding for potential music start-ups and the legal implications/aspects of music deals. In other words, I wanted to gain more knowledge of finance and financial law in order to become a better professional and expand our provision to pre-IPO advisory services.

"Being in full-time employment, the distance learning provision offered by the University of London International Programmes was the best match for balancing my life between work and study."

Could you tell us why you chose to study for this degree?
The MSc, with its equal weight on both law and finance, was the perfect choice for me as I gained exposure to both topics as my former education did not lie specifically in either law or finance. All the other courses I evaluated did not provide this type of provision, being either strongly finance or law oriented but not combining the two in a balanced way.

Being in full-time employment, the distance learning provision offered by the University of London International Programmes was the best match for balancing my life between work and study, without sacrificing the quality of teaching and international recognition offered by a highly regarded institution such as SOAS.

Did the fact that the MSc was developed by SOAS play a part in your decision?
Having many acquaintances with a background in Oriental studies during my stay in Japan, I was familiar with SOAS and well aware of its high reputation in the field. In London, I had the chance to meet several SOAS MSc alumni, and their extremely positive feedback played an important role in my decision. Moreover, in 2008/9 I attended a course of Japanese language at SOAS and was very pleased with its delivery.

Finally, SOAS can be deemed as the main centre for Oriental and African studies in Europe and surely one of the top at global level. The fact that the Masters was administered by SOAS made me, without doubt, feel reassured that while still been focussed on technical topics, the curriculum would have been influenced by a strong cross-cultural attitude and with an international focus, which I strongly believe should be a necessary element for any academic curricula to guarantee students their success in today’s global business environment.

"It would be difficult to list all the skills I gained through the MSc course. Among the most important I would say that I have acquired ‘legal thinking’, and I have become proficient in the rationale behind the Common Law systems."

What were the particular skills and insights that you gained from taking the programme?
It would be difficult to list all the skills I gained through the MSc course. Among the most important I would say that I have acquired ‘legal thinking’, and I have become proficient in the rationale behind the Common Law systems. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to acquire a more scientific approach to research methods, in particular as regards legal research methods and familiarity with legal academic and non-academic sources. I also have greatly benefited from learning legal drafting. On the finance side, I have improved my skills in corporate finance especially in venture financial assessment, risk management and valuations. I also gained a thorough understanding of international financial markets and their forces. Lastly, I had the opportunity to learn the various aspects of company law.

How are these skills helping you in your current job?
The skills acquired during the MSc have helped me very much. I have been able to relate much of the material learned to current projects. A couple of examples may be working on a merger assignment and funding rounds for two new ventures, one in the hospitality industry and the other for a TV format.

What are your future career plans?
I am currently expanding my career plans and it is highly likely that I will move back to Asia by the end of the year. Once things are settled in that direction, I would also like to consider undertaking another postgraduate degree, also by distance learning.

"I think that the degree would be most useful to ether finance or law graduates wanting to acquire specific expertise in the other topic and become a more rounded financial and legal professional."

Why would you recommend this degree?
I would recommend the degree because I believe it is very well envisaged and delivered; it is also unique in that it puts equal balance on both finance and the law. I think that the degree would be most useful to ether finance or law graduates wanting to acquire specific expertise in the other topic and become a more rounded financial and legal professional.

As it was in my case, I believe it would be also useful to prospects without specific expertise in either topic as it allows achieving good grounds in both topics.

Have you got any tips for people considering this course?
People wishing to undertake the course, specifically by distance learning, should understand that the course requires considerable time and mental commitment and can be stressful at times. Once completed, the reward is immense.

What are your insights that you would like to share with other students from your participation on the Teaching and Learning Committee of the University of London International Programmes?
Participating in the Committee at the University of London gave me the opportunity to learn the mechanics behind the works of one of the largest educational institutions in Europe. I could experience and, even if only to a very limited extent, contribute to the governance of the delivery of the courses and meet some great people who were fellow members of the committee. It has been a unique experience and opportunity of mediation between the student voice and the governance, compliance and budgeting requirements of the university.