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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Courtney Fingar

Courtney Fingar
Courtney Fingar
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Doing Now
Editor at the Financial Times, Ltd.

I first visited Edinburgh for Hogmanay in my backpacker days after I finished my undergraduate degree. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, and when time came to choose a university for my postgraduate studies it was top of my list. The opportunity to get a degree at one of the UK's top universities and live in this amazing city for a year was not one to miss. It was certainly the right decision for me and has paid dividends in my subsequent career, not to mention I have some cherished memories from my time in Edinburgh, a place I still visit frequently.

Why did you decide to do the IEP degree?

My undergraduate degree, journalism, gave me good grounding in my chosen profession, but it is almost a vocational degree in its application. After a few years working in media I had decided to pursue a specialisation in international business and trade. Truthfully the IEP course seemed much more interesting than a business degree with a more rounded perspective on the world and the many factors that influence economics and business. By prioritising the political economy-focused courses within the IEP programme and choosing an international trade-related topic for my dissertation, as well as taking one international business course offered by the MBA programme, I was able to create the right mix of politics, economics, trade and business studies in line with my particular interests.

What were your best memories?

I share a favourite memory, it seems, with my classmate Gabriel Goldberg. We hosted a 'come as your national stereotype' party for our course -- which was fitting for an international politics group -- and it was hilarious to see what people showed up wearing. Confession: I was the student who came dressed as an American soldier. Ironically, I wrote 'Baghdad or Bust' on my t-shirt and I could not have guessed then that I would end up visiting Iraq four times through my work years later. I should have kept the t-shirt.

What is it that you do now and did the degree help in your career path?

I am the editor of fDi Magazine, a specialist publication from The Financial Times Ltd which is focused on foreign direct investment and is read by senior-level executives at multinational companies as well as government officials globally. I have been in the role since 2004, after a two-year stint editing a trade finance magazine, and it has allowed me the opportunity to visit nearly 60 countries in all parts of the world. Based in London, I travel most weeks, interviewing government ministers and CEOs, and speaking at conferences to represent our publication and its associated data business. My job is all about international politics so I would say the degree served me very well.

How did you like Edinburgh as a city?

Edinburgh, for me, is easily the most enchanting city in the UK and one of the most beautiful in Europe. I could never quite get over the views that would appear, as if from nowhere, in the twists and turns of the city -- they always take me off-guard even on familiar streets. I go back at least a few times a year, and every time I see it I still can't quite believe how stunning it is. That may sound over the top, but I have been to a lot of places in the world and this one is something special. I would be remiss if I did not also say that the nightlife is not so conducive to studies but makes it a heck of a place to spend a year.