Learn more about Neil Penning, Alumnus (Class of 2018)
Where are you living now?
I am currently living and working in Paris.
What did you do after you left ISL?
After I left ISL, I went straight to IE University in Madrid to start a 4-year BBA program.
What did you study at University?
BBA is short for Bachelor in Business Administration. This 4-year program teaches you the basics of management, finance, marketing and operations, while allowing you to explore fields such as coding, blockchain (i.e. cryptocurrencies), philosophy and politics through elective credits. It is a great program if you wish to discover many different areas of business at once and specialize in the area that you enjoy most at a later stage.
What are you doing now?
At the moment, I am doing an internship at an investment bank until the end of the year, more specifically I am working in their equity capital markets department (ECM). After completing my bachelor's degree at IE in July 2022, the plan was to get a year of work experience before applying to a Master in Finance for September 2023. Thus, I am looking to do a second internship, possibly in venture capital, starting in January 2023.
Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
Yes! I think that my time at ISL helped shape my interest in finance, as I was exposed to it at a very early age – as early as 9th grade. More importantly, ISL gave me the necessary skills to pursue a career in this industry early-on, by perfecting my English skills and offering advanced economics courses as part of the IGCSE and IB.
What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
In my experience, the biggest advantage that I got from studying at ISL is the ability to be an independent learner and worker, starting from a young age. This is both a skill and a mindset that is crucial at university as well as later in life to reduce one’s dependency on other people to get work done. Another advantage is being able to work effectively in groups, which is a core component of many assignments at ISL. Lastly, I strongly believe that the IB is one of the best high school diplomas out there, which provides you with the necessary skills to excel at university.
What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
I would encourage students to participate in as many extra-curricular activities as possible, including sports, theater and community service. Personally, I benefitted most from ISL’s extra-curricular sports offering, which allowed me to get regular exercise, compete against other international schools across Europe and develop strong relationships with my classmates.
Although the IB will seem challenging and draining in the moment, it is absolutely worth it. It teaches you everything you need to know to do well at university.
Were you involved in any clubs/activities at ISL? What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
Yes, I was mostly involved in sports teams such as football during the first trimester, swimming during the second trimester and golf during the third trimester. I particularly enjoyed representing ISL in the annual NECIS tournaments all around Europe. Traveling abroad to compete was always a special experience that taught me a lot about team spirit and self-discipline.
Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:
ISL puts a lot of focus on perfecting students’ English speaking and writing skills, which allows them to express themselves to their full potential. It does this through oral presentations and complex individual written assignments, which help students develop their public speaking and argumentation skills.
How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
The fact that I was part of such an international community at such a young age gave me the necessary confidence when I graduated to go out into the world and connect with new people from different backgrounds with incredible ease.
What do you think is unique about ISL?
ISL’s uniqueness stems from its ability to combine academics and extra-curricular activities in a manageable and sustainable way, through which students can enjoy being a part of the ISL community both in- and outside school hours.
If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
I would like to thank Mr. Uren for helping me get through IB Physics – clearly my weakest subject – with a decent final grade. I would also like to thank Frau Prendergast for always making her German A classes fun and interactive, and Mr. Agraz for sparking my interest in finance and guiding me towards a degree in business administration.
Describe ISL in 5 words: