Nicos Constantinou, known as Nick, was born in London on 8 December 1960. He studied physics at the University of Reading (graduating in 1982), followed by an MSc in solid state physics at what is now Birkbeck, University of London (1984).
He began his long but not continuous link with the University of Essex as a PhD student in theoretical physics (1984-88), and after gaining his doctorate was appointed senior research fellow in physics (1988-95). Although he published a number of important papers, he was lured to the City to embark on a career in finance. Starting as a mathematical analyst at HSBC Securities (1995-97), he soon rose to become global head of market risk management (1997-2003) before playing the same role at HSBC Insurance (2003-07).
In 2008, Dr Constantinou returned to Essex, but on a new academic path – HSBC senior fellow lecturer at the Centre for Computational Finance and Economic Agents. He went on to become lecturer in finance at Essex Business School in 2009 and deputy director of the Essex MBA, launched to great success the following year.
Despite the relatively short time Dr Constantinou spent at the business school, he was able to draw on his extensive network of City contacts to make a substantial impact. He played a major role in setting up the very successful MSc in financial engineering and risk management, and pioneered a module, Industry Expert Lectures in Finance, taught exclusively by practitioners and fellow experts. He also established internships (a day a week for at least six months) at HSBC and Invesco Perpetual, which gave the most talented doctoral students in finance invaluable practical experience of risk management.
“Academics are usually happy with one successful career,” said Neil Kellard, professor of finance at Essex Business School. “Nick’s enormous talent meant he had three, with a high-flying career in the City sandwiched between two successful academic careers.”
Yet despite his impressive list of jobs and 44 peer-reviewed articles in physics and finance, Dr Constantinou’s “greatest success was, as one colleague clearly articulated, ‘being a genuinely lovely person’”, Professor Kellard added. “Staff and students alike have told of his generosity, beaming smile, great sense of humour and laid-back nature – characteristics that made Nick a much admired teacher and friend.”
Dr Constantinou died of a heart attack on 19 April. He is survived by his wife Pam and their two children.