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– It’s been a steep learning curve, but that’s exactly what I hoped for

Pernille Fathi is a trained physicist and spent her two previous summers at SINTEF Industry working on materials science. The leap to the world of finance and the fund might seem a big one. Just how big is what Pernille wanted to find out.

“I fancied trying something completely new,” she explains.

“I also wanted to see if the tools and models I’d worked with before could be applied in finance. It turned out that the two industries have many similarities. The models are the same, but the applications differ. In the world of physics, you have a number of natural laws. These don’t exist in finance, where you need to allow for things like psychological processes. It’s been really exciting and enjoyable spending the summer looking at this.”

Pernille recently completed a Master’s degree in physics at King’s College London. Next up for the Trondheim native is a PhD in physics at Harvard University.

Read more about our summer internship programme

Simulating the power market

Summer interns at the fund work on a project from June to August looking at issues in areas such as investment management, risk management, responsible investment and technology, to name but a few. Pernille’s project involved simulating the European power market, and this proved a perfect match for the physicist.

“I used simulations to develop models for different future scenarios in the power market based on weather, production capacity, consumption and prices. What kind of power prices might we see, and how weather-dependent are they? How do we minimise the risk in our infrastructure investments? These were some of the questions I looked at.”

Pleasantly surprised

Pernille worked in the fund’s risk department, where her physics background turned out not to be as unusual as she expected. Colleagues included graduates in mathematics and political science and even a research fellow in astrophysics.

“No, I certainly wasn’t the odd one out in the department. Being part of a team doing such advanced simulations and modelling in-house was a pleasant surprise. It enables you to look at things in depth and develop a lot yourself. It’s almost like doing research. I hadn’t expected to find that here.”

An instructive lunch

"How much did you know about finance before joining one of the world’s largest investment funds?"

“I knew little about finance before I started here. Many of the terms used are difficult for outsiders to grasp. Although I didn’t work directly with finance that much in my project, I did learn a lot from being in this environment, not least by getting to know the other summer interns and what they were working on.”

This willingness to share knowledge is one of the things Pernille will take away from her eight weeks at the fund. She particularly remembers one lunchtime.

“I had the whole of the 2008 financial crisis explained to me over a single lunch. That was fun! As long as you remember to preface your questions with ‘For someone who doesn’t know much about finance…’, you’ll learn something the whole time. It’s been a steep learning curve, but that’s exactly what I hoped for when I applied. There are some incredibly talented people working at the fund. There’s always someone available, and you’ll always get an answer to your questions.”

Last saved: 30/08/2022

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