Students Stories

Dec 29 , 2017

Our Freshmen | Shanxiao Zhang: I’m the Tiger Girl

Hearing the name “Shanxiao”, which means “roaring in mountains”, you might come up with a boy full of energy and strength. Surprisingly, though Shanxiao is also energetic and conversable, SHE is a girl from Chongqing, delicate, likable and feminine. However, over time, you will discover her openness and coolness as her name implies. That is Shanxiao Zhang, a freshman of SAIF MF 2017, aka “Brother Shanxiao”. Logic Guided me from Geology to Finance Graduated from the School of Earth and Space Sciences, Peking University, Shanxiao was also granted with a Bachelor of Economics from the National Development Institute of Peking University. Born in a family of educators and influenced by her father, a physician, she was enchanted by mathematics, physics, programming and all other disciplines and topics related to logic, ever since her childhood. In the 1st semester of her senior year at high school, Shanxiao took part in a Geoscience Summer Camp organized by Peking University and later was recruited by the Department of Geology at Peking University, thanks to her outstanding performance during the camp. Though it seemed that she was on the right track, once on campus, she found her study deviated from logic and wondered whether she really wanted a career dealing with geology, landform and rocks. Therefore, Shanxiao started to explore unknown territories, by studying in Physics in her freshman and sophomore years, and also sitting in the classrooms of History and other subjects. After all these efforts, she turned to finance. In the 1st semester of her junior year, Shanxiao managed to participate in an exchange program at the Faculty of Science of The University of Hong Kong. During this one-year program, she established a general perception on finance, “I enjoy the fun of finance, which involves the logic of mathematics, capitalizes on my previous knowledge base and skills of mathematics and science, and interacts with applications and reality, while it isn’t too academic or abstract. It appeals to and fits me perfectly.” At the end of the exchange program, Shanxiao returned to Peking University for the 2nd semester of her junior year and immediately started her efforts. In addition to the courses of Geology, she also applied for the 2nd degree program of Economics, not to mention TOFEL and internship at a financial institution. Thanks to her dedication and extraordinary ability of learning, Shanxiao completed all the courses of the three-year Bachelor of Economics Program in just one and half years. “During that period, I worked so hard that I doubled the workload of my classmates. However, I made it and became better, with more sound fundamentals of Finance...”, claimed Shanxiao. An Open Environment of Diversity “SAIF is quite open-minded, which focuses on today and tomorrow instead of yesterday. Therefore, SAIF MF students are diverse, from all kinds of disciplines. It’s particularly interesting, because we often take different perspectives even when studying the same course,” noted Shanxiao. Though on the campus in Beijing, she paid attention to Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) based in Shanghai. However, the participation in Mini Camp organized by SAIF MF Program in March 2016 brought her closer to SAIF. “I read about SAIF’s Mini Camp and immediately registered. I took part in a variety of activities, attended the training of business etiquette and sat at Prof. Nengjiu Ju’s course of Finance, which created an in-depth understanding on SAIF. The subsequent field visit to SAIF Shanghai Campus helped me make the decision.” After over two months on SAIF campus, Shanxiao described her experience and perception as “being pushed forward in a mighty current”. Every day is fully scheduled, with courses, assignments, workshops of financial institutions or preparation for CFA and CPA tests. Though this situation of multi-tasking is busy and exhausting, she understands it also creates fast progress. “By communicating with amazing classmates, it always reminds me to reflect what I really want to do, what I can actually do and what is the direction of my future,” said Shanxiao. In fact, before her enrollment at SAIF, Shanxiao served as an intern at a number of buy-side and sell-side financial institutions, including Citic Securities, Haitong Securities and Grand View Capital, which also helped her identify the capabilities required by her career roadmap, for example, industry analytics, programming and other computer skills, financial analysis and valuation modeling. Without systematic training, one or more skills may be missing from a holistic mindset of financial analysis. SAIF MF Program offers both financial fundamentals and elective courses, including quantitative programming calling for exceptional mathematical and scientific knowledge. Meanwhile, SAIF also provides enriched resources and training programs to structure knowledge framework and capabilities in terms of financial analysis and valuation modeling, which helps her customize her own curriculum. Fresh and Independent Though Shanxiao fell in love with finance at the first sight during her undergraduate study, after joining SAIF, she actually explored the world of finance and realized what she wants and is able to do. Shanxiao recalled that during the first consulting session of Career Development Center (CDC), the staff helped students to sort out their hobbies, interests and strengths, and then provided resources accordingly. “For example, some of the students are eager to enter the business of investment banking, so CDC will invite some investment bankers and interviewers from financial institutions for lectures. If you prefer industry research, CDC will work with Oriental Securities in joint training and courses.” Shanxiao stated that she would focus on buy-side research on the secondary market of public funds, “I believe it’s perfect for my personality. On one hand, I prefer a workspace of equality, freedom and communication. On the other hand, it convinces people with logic instead of seniority.” Moreover, the investment decisions of buyers directly influence the market, which means the results of her investment analysis is directly assessed by market performance and such immediate feedback will create pressure and “growing pains”. “Many of my classmates plan to serve as IBD in international banks. My career roadmap is new and fresh,” smiled Shanxiao. Independent and courageous enough to face pressure, she reveals her coolness and muscularity. Due to her energy and aggressiveness, she is often called “Brother Shanxiao” or “Mountain King” by her peers. In fact, similar to other girls of her age, she also loves Korean soap operas, hiking, scuba diving and other adventures, who holds an Open Water (OW) license. “Under water, you will feel clear and pure, discovering a world and yourself in a totally different way.” That is our Shanxiao, energetic and lovely, yet strong and brave. We hope this independent and decisive girl would enjoy a smooth and successful journey to her dreams.

Jul 18 , 2017

Graduation Season| Qing WANG: What Made Me Choose Morga ...

Q: Why do you think Morgan Stanley retained you and provided you a full-time offer after your internship? A: Probably because I’m hard-working, as I used to be at SAIF. Though out of our expectation, Qing WANG’s response explained something. As a graduate of SAIF MF 2017, Qing WANG successfully joined Morgan Stanley with two of her classmates thanks to her outstanding performance, in addition to a summer offer as early as in the year of her enrollment. Today, we will listen to her story. Qing WANG, SAIF MF Graduation Class of 2017 Memorable Days at SAIF Prior to SAIF, Qing WANG graduated from School of Economics of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, with double degrees major in Quantitative Economics and Mathematics. Since Qing WANG preferred professional applications to academic research, she applied for SAIF’s Summer Recruitment Camp in her junior year. "All the participants were outstanding. The overall atmosphere of learning, innovative curriculum design and alumni activities were appealing.” Thus, Qing "fell in love” with SAIF at her first sight, who abandoned the opportunities from other schools and focused on SAIF. Qing WANG at SAIF MF Summer Camp (first from the right) "Studying at SAIF is everything but relaxation.” Mathematics and quantification weighed heavily in SAIF MF Program. In spite of her four-year foundation of quantitative economics during her undergraduate program, Qing was still somewhat overwhelmed by the fast-moving and intensive schedule in SAIF MF. In addition, the online applications and interviews for summer internship concentrated on the period from October to December of the first semester, which made her feel overloaded to prepare over 10 interview packages. 'During that period, I slept 5 hours a day and it was extremely stressful. Fortunately, I have some academic background in mathematics, not to mention other classmates major in disciplines other than economics,” Qing WANG marveled when looking back, "I think most of the participants who joined SAIF are highly resistant to pressure and self-disciplined.” In the intensive curriculum, the courses taught by three female professors, namely "Corporate Finance” and "Merger & Acquisition” by Prof. Zhan JIANG, "Accounting” by Prof. Lei ZHU and "Principles of Finance” by Prof. Xiaomeng LU, impressed Qing the most. "No matter you deal with primary or secondary markets, the fundamentals of a company are all explained by three statements, that is, balance sheet, cash flow statement and income statement. Prof. Lei ZHU’s Accounting is intelligible and practical.” Prof. ZHU and MF students in class According to Qing, there are a lot of items and rules in accounting, which are hard to memorize purely in class. However, after theoretical lectures, Prof. ZHU often left half a session for exercises and hands-on practices. "These exercises helped us better review reports and statements during our internship. I hope that SAIF would introduce more pragmatism-oriented courses in the future, completed by in-depth expertise and insights,” suggested Qing. Of course, she also believes theories are necessary. Though practices may change from time to time, theories provide a basic framework and scope. rare leisure time If You Can Deal with SAIF, You Will Be Able to Work in Investment Banking In the summer before SAIF, Qing WANG worked as an intern at Rothschild, which introduced her to the role and business model of an investment bank. Again, she beat the keen competition of interview and joined Morgan Stanley’s IBD along with two other SAIF graduates. Though somewhat prepared to the busy schedule in the business of investment banking, Qing was surprised by the fanatical pace at the very beginning. As her team focuses on the Chinese market, her internship coincided with the critical stage of a Chinese company seeking for IPO in Hong Kong. Therefore, after the first week of orientation, she followed the project over the next 9 weeks, compiling and preparing a variety of IPO documentations, working on due diligence, traveling to different cities, and communicating with legal, audit and accounting teams. Under the circumstance of tight schedule and extensive workload, every day was a battle to her. She slept 5-6 hours a day and never took a two-day weekend, which made her lose 5 kilograms after the internship. Good friendship In addition to diligence, Qing WANG described herself as good at learning, detail oriented and proactive in communicating with team leaders and members. Once she submitted a presentation to her boss at 2AM, which was a version after numerous rounds of review and revision at different levels. However, her boss pointed out that the borders of a table wasn’t consistent with the background of the template. Though it was barely invisible, he still asked her to eliminate the concern. Eventually, the result of the printout convinced her that it deserved the effort. "It may be regarded as the obsession of investment bankers, who seek for precision and perfection, free of defect.” The involvement in this project also benefitted Qing a lot, "It was the first time I dealt with an IPO project, which revealed all related processes and steps. For an investment banking professional, from documentation to filing, every detail calls for attention.” Given their professionalism, diligence and efforts, Qing and other SAIF graduates are highly recognized by both team members and leaders, who complimented their distinctive adaptability compared to other recent interns. Such remarkable results also led to high retention rate. For example, three of four SAIF MF graduates of 2017 received the final offers from Morgan Stanley. Yoga time Though Qing WANG doesn’t have a clear idea about her future yet, she understands that the opportunity to enter a leading international investment bank at the very beginning of her career path will significantly expand and improve her vision, experience and capabilities. She expressed her appreciation for this "tough” journey, which raised the curtain for a valuable starting point and a promising future.

Jul 04 , 2017

Graduation Season | Kai YIN from SAIF MF: Stay Focused

At the very beginning of my SAIF MF Program, we were asked to write down our vision, and I still remember that my version was a decent life, a career with recognition and fulfillment and a well-being family after 10 years. After two years of study, my vision becomes even clearer, that is, to stay focused and contribute my learning to the world. As one of SAIF MF 2017 graduates, Kai YIN is known for his remarkable performance, full scholarship and the honor of “Distinguished Graduate”, who secured an offer from Huatai Securities as early as in August 2016. In this graduation season, he expresses his gratitude to SAIF MF Program and also his expectations to the future journey of financial startup. Brand New Landscape Recalling his enrollment in SAIF MF, Kai YIN regards it as a natural decision. Graduated from the Mathematics Department of Fudan University, he often heard about the admissions of earlier graduates at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) in his sophomore year. “SAIF is highly recognized among us. It is widely agreed that SAIF MF is one of the best education programs in Shanghai and even in China, in terms of resources and future prospect,” said Kai YIN, “and it is even a more persuasive case for me because a transition from mathematics to finance would bring me more leverage and possibilities.” He categorized the program taught in English into three parts, two of which are more specialized and focused. The first part of quantitative finance is most challenging and time-consuming, including Derivatives, Financial Mathematics and Quantitative Finance. And the second part of corporate finance involves Accounting, Corporate Valuation, M&A and Financial Management. According to Kai YIN, PE & VC taught by Prof. Fei WU impressed him most. In addition to classroom lectures, Prof. WU also invited experts from various financial domains to share their real-world practices. Ranging from head of investment from a listed company, former filmmaker and today’s investor through to investment director from a well-established PE, these guest speakers opened up numerous windows to the financial world, covering the profitability model of cinemas and the structured design of M&As for PEs, to name a few. A Moment in the Classroom (Kai YIN sitting at the right end of the 2nd row) He admitted that it was the first time for him to interact with industry experts in such depth and breadth. And such experience was valuable to his future career. “During my prior internship at a financial institution, whenever I faced obstacles, I searched relative information online and sought for answers from experts. However, it was complicated and time-consuming, while the results were full of uncertainty. But this course guided me into a world of experts and expertise.” From Cold Mathematics to Real-world Finance Beyond knowledge, the campus life at SAIF also revolutionized Kai YIN’s way of thinking and personality. Kai YIN joked himself a “nerd” dealing with numbers in the past, who was poor at presentation and communication. Nonetheless, he faced a number of courses highlighting business etiquette and communication skills at SAIF. For example, the course “Presentation Skills” guided him how to make eye contacts, prepare presentations and balance his speech rhythm and tone. “These skills liberated my potentials and made me more open-minded and proactive,” explained Kai YIN with a smile. “In many cases of group discussion, each team often contained a foreign student, which increased the difficulties and challenges of communication. We had to seek for interactions, deployment, collaboration and even proper competition in a diverse workspace.” As the financial sector focuses on practical operations, the frequent sessions of group discussion in the course “Corporate Finance” highlighted the complexity of financial theories in hands-on applications. “In the classroom, the theories might seem to be simple and straightforward. However, when you actually get down to review a company, it’s totally different. For example, the valuation of a company involves plenty of variables and factors,” said Kai YIN, who learned valuable lessons in the process. “For instance, there are many ways to calculate risk-free rate. Should I use 1-year, 10-year or 30-year maturity? The interest rate in US or in China? The present rate or the average of last 10 years?” To Kai YIN’s surprise, it was totally different from his previous study of mathematical theories, which drew a definite line between right and wrong. Lifetime Friendship Fortunately, these practices, debates and conflicts consolidated the unique friendship between Kai YIN and his peers. He strongly disagreed the common perception that the 90s generation was a self-centered and lost generation. “We came to class and hunted jobs together. We are close.” He attributed such “closeness” to highly similar values, which led to the mutual supports within and between cohorts of SAIF MF Program. “We have a lot of topics to talk about and a lot of future to anticipate. We all hope that we would have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams together.” A New Journey Beyond SAIF After two years of challenging study, Kai YIN received an offer from Huatai Securities before the graduation season of 2017. In the future, he will be busy providing financing services to growth businesses. And he is well prepared for this new journey. Thanks to the sound foundation of knowledge and expertise, along with the efforts of SAIF Career Development Center (CDC), his job search was smooth and fruitful. “We received many emails from CDC team, regarding public and private recruitment information. They also invited previous graduates and industry experts to share their internship experience and interview skills. Given the awareness of SAIF MF, remarkable academic background and in-depth and ongoing training sessions hosted by CDC, SAIF graduates often stand out in the job market,” highlighted Kai YIN, explaining that almost all of his classmates succeed to find their desirable jobs. Though the new journey would soon start, Kai YIN will still return to SAIF at weekends and holidays for self-improvement. Sitting at SAIF Lab on the ground floor and looking at over 10 Bloomberg terminals in the front, he considered himself as a lucky guy, who had the opportunity to access such outstanding educational resources in his youth. “As an SAIFer, we are always part of the School. My best wishes to my classmates and also to SAIF. I hope the School would continue to enhance its performance, presence and influence in the academic community, in the financial sector and among alumni.” Today, looking back at his prior vision about a decent life and a career of recognition and fulfillment, Kai YIN is more confident in his future. His advice to himself and other students: stay focused, keep trying and leaving no regrets.

Jun 13 , 2017

Yangmeng WANG: Three States of Life within Five Years a ...

Yangmeng WANG is just like his Chinese name, with a baby face and full of adorable attributes. However, do not be disguised by his appearance. He obtained his undergraduate degree in automation from Tsinghua University and came to SAIF for Master of Finance. After graduation, he did not choose the traditional path of finance and instead dedicated himself to the Internet industry and entrepreneurship. Within five years, he has already made his way to become the Director of Business Strategy at Eleme. Let’s listen to how Yangmeng, someone who is so accomplished at such a young age, interprets the three states of his life. What I see is what I see "At school, my grades were generally ok, so I always felt that life is quite rich and colorful and many things can be achieved easily. Now when I look back, I think I was overly optimistic." There are many very qualified students at SAIF, and as the Class Representative of MF 2010, Yangmeng was definitely one of them. His path has always been quite smooth, being first sent to study automation at Tsinghua and then entering the SAIF MF program. "In comparison to Tisnghua, both the faculty and the way of teaching at SAIF are more international. At the time, SAIF was like an undervalued stock." Since Yangmeng was looking forward to working in TMT (Technology, Media, Telecom) or quantitative investment, he very firmly chose SAIF. "After coming to SAIF, I realized that the faulty here are very strong and the students are all the best of the best. The competition pressure was even stronger than Tsinghua, but I think it was pressure that motivated me forward." Speaking of the most impressive course, he mentioned the accounting class taught by Professor Xiaojun Zhang and SAIF LIVE course taught by Professor Charles Chang. "I have never taken an accounting course during my undergraduate studies, so the course was quite difficult to me. However, Professor Zhang had a way of making it easy. There was one class where everyone played Monopoly to further understand the concepts of land rent and asset replacement. I have improved many of my skills during that period." Teachers at SAIF teach in a very unique way, combing recreation with the actual course material. The SAIF LIVE course bridges classroom knowledge with real life problems to help students understand how to resolve similar situations encountered during work. What I see is not what I see "After graduation, I realized that many things cannot be accomplished by mere efforts. Opportunity is also very important. When I just graduated, I felt that what I can do and contribute is very limited and I have to inevitably take some realistic factors into consideration." Yangmeng mentioned, the further he goes, the less professional skills are weighed at work. Instead, the mindset and soft skills he has built at SAIF have become more influential. He believes the fast-learning ability and the international vision he acquired at SAIF are the most valuable assets. "There are many things I encountered which I have not been exposed to before. Therefore, knowing how to view these problems from a broader perspective is the key to knowing whether I have made the right choice or not. Such a mindset is reflected not only in my work, but also in many aspects of my life." In the first two years after graduation, even as a top student, Yangmeng had to spend a lot of time and effort laying the foundation. "Although we all experienced a lot of stress right after graduation, all my classmates have grown quickly within two years. Now they have all become of the backbones of each field, including fund managers at funds, senior analysts at brokerage firms or leaders at startups." While he was working at Baidu, Yangmeng reached out to directors at each line of business in order to better understand the field. "Reporting regularly to Robin (Yanhong Li), meeting with top managers from different areas and listening to how they explain their businesses have helped me quickly understand the business." What I see is still what I see "Two years after graduation, many of my abilities have improved and I can handle more things with ease. At this stage, my idealism is no longer a blind optimism, but a realization after accumulation of knowing how to reach my goals, even ambitious ones. I have made my way back to being idealistic." Then he added, "In fact, I think many SAIF graduates are quite idealistic." With the profound influence of the MF program, although after graduation Yangmeng had wondered whether he could really make some differences, five years after a wider road has opened up in front of him. "I think I'm still young, so I decided to have a try at a startup." In 2016, Yangmeng came back to Shanghai from Beijing and started working at the Internet company, Eleme. In addition to fulfilling his responsibilities, he hopes to take on some independent businesses on his own in the future. As a senior, he hopes that SAIF will maintain its current concept of elite education. To current students, he said, "The knowledge you obtain at SAIF will help you greatly in the future, and the friendship you build here will last for a life time. I hope you can all enjoy your time at SAIF."