‘UCD’s MSc in Aviation Finance has more than lived up to expectations'
Originally published in The Irish Times
Author: Barry McCall
UCD MSc in aviation finance student Rebecca Yue had a lifelong interest in aviation but poor eyesight prevented her from realising her childhood ambition of becoming a pilot. “I was always deeply interested in aviation and have been lucky to travel extensively throughout my life,” she says.
“I wanted to be a pilot, but I am very short-sighted. When I was 18 or 19 there wasn’t any really well-established aviation course around, so I went down the route of my other love which was chemistry.”
She initially found out about the aviation finance course from her father. “He saw an advertisement for the course,”she recalls. “He had an ex-client who had a course alumnus working for them. My father knew I had an interest in aviation and finance and got in touch with the alumnus and had a chat aboutthe course and prospects.”
That contact was very important. “Taking the course was a big risk for me,” she explains. “I am a mature student. I’m 31 years of age and being able to get the views of the alumnus was invaluable. He gave me a really good description and overview of the course.”
That led to a career U-turn. “When I learned about the course, I knew it was a fantastic opportunity. It came at a time when I was looking for a career change. I had been working as a chemistry teacher in New Zealand. I was working with children from difficult backgrounds. I did a lot of work with young students to help them do something meaningful and keep out of gangs.”
She already knew she needed a new challenge and had taken a year off to explore her options. “I was looking at things in finance and did a stint in a bank,” she adds. That introduced her to the world of finance and leasing.
She applied for the course and was accepted and arrived in Ireland in August 2018. “The course has more than lived up to expectations,” she says. “Having come from such a different area with no business or financial background, I have found it really good. I have had to do much more reading than some other students, of course. The first semester was invaluable in providing me with a lot of financial knowledge I didn’t have prior to that. There was some reference to aviation. We did tax and how it is applied to the industry and studied the financial statements of an airline. We also had some great speakers from the large lessors. This gave us a taste of what is to come this semester, which will be much more applied to the aviation industry.”
A Google search result brought the UCD course to the attention of Ian Huang. Originally from Shanghai where he had studied for his economics degree, Huang had been working in finance for a number of years when he decided to make the switch to aviation finance. “I was hugely interested in aviation,” he recalls. “I googled it and the UCD Smurfit course was the first result displayed. I had been working in Hong Kong for eight years and decided to combine my passion with the experience I had gained in the financial sector.”
He says he didn’t know the aviation finance sector that well before applying for the course but did some research and found out about Dublin’s position in the global industry.
“I came to Ireland in August 2018,” he says. “It has been quite exciting. Quite a few industry leaders have come to speak to us on the course. That exposure to them is great. The first semester is more on finance generally and the next will be more focused on aviation. That will help prepare us for jobs.
“The course has lived up to my expectations,” he adds. “It is a great way to get to know people in the industry and has been a great experience. I would definitely recommend it to others interested in getting into the industry. There is no better way to do it.”
Yue agrees. “I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. I’m not going to lie, you have to be prepared to work very hard. It was a bit of a baptism of fire for me. If you are genuinely interested in the area that’s not going to be a problem and you’ll enjoy it. I would recommend it to others interested in aviation finance. But they should think carefully if they are prepared to put the work in. Being a bit older meant I understood what was involved.”