Students Stories

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."

Jun 12 , 2017

Matthias Keschka, Tough Guy Conquers the Desert

He is confident, humorous, cordial and open-minded. He is a German son-in-law of a Chinese family, who speaks Chinese fluently with a slight Shanghainese accent. He is a warrior full of adventurous spirit and has recently won the 6th Asian Business School Desert Challenge. Let’s follow Matthias Keschka (MF 2014 alumni) to his exciting journey in the East. ORIENTAL ADVENTURE Matthias Keschka’s Chinese name is 王德. He chose this name during his registration at the police office. He thinks 王(Wang) is a simple family name and 德 (De) can indicate he is from Germany. During his bachelor program at the University of Mannheim, the top-ranking business school in Germany, Matthias was awarded an internship at BASF M&A Department in Hong Kong. Supported by the scholarship provided by Confucius Institute, he also spent one year studying Chinese at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which further enhanced his passion for China. Starting from his initial interest in Chinese culture through to his love, education and career in China, his oriental adventure has been full of excitement. LOVE SAIF, LOVE CHALLENGES Matthias is the eternal challenger, and for him, SAIF is one of the challenges. He said that when considering which MF program to take, some people like his professor and future fellow classmate Xiang DING offered him sincere advice, which helped him get a general idea about all leading MF programs in China. After careful consideration, he decided to apply for SAIF MF Program for mainly two reasons. Firstly, SAIF MF is extremely internationalized. And secondly, it focuses on finance and is more challenging. The courses that impressed Matthias most include Prof. Fei WU’s "VC PE" and Prof. Tan WANG’s "Financial Mathematics". The former gives inspirations to his current career, while the latter fits his passion for mathematics. "The courses are all quite challenging, but they also train our mindsets. Prof. Tan WANG is good at hands-on coaching. The fact that Chinese classmates are particularly strong in mathematics doesn’t reduce my enthusiasm." The Asia Pacific Regional Championships of the 2015 Hult Prize is another challenge faced by Matthias during his study at SAIF. Initiated by Ahmad Ashkar in 2009 and supported by Mr. Bertil Hult, founder of English First (EF), this prize partners with the Clinton Global Initiative and is awarded by Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the U.S., in person. It is designed to encourage worldwide college and university students to find solutions for the greatest social issues in the world with the most creative ideas. Comprised of Matthias and four other team members, including Michael Custer (MF2013) and Callum Porter-Harris (MF2014), the teleStory team defeated 38 other teams in the contest, including teams from Tsinghua University, Peking University, Cambridge University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto and the National University of Singapore, and won the Asia Pacific Regional Championships, becoming the first Chinese champion in this category. Prof. Jiang WANG (first from the left), Mr. Jian CHENG (second from the right, Angel Investor of teleStory and Chairman of Yinghua Fund) and the team supporters at the final competition Callum Porter-Harris (first from the left) and Matthias with a family in the slums of Mumbai, India "It's a rare and amazing opportunity. It all began with an idea or a rough business model, which soon evolved into a proposal. Starting in February 2016, after we won the Hult Prize Regionals, we managed to raise 300,000 RMB in just four months. We engaged in a pilot in Dawu County, Hubei Province and were part of a startup incubator in Boston, USA. We also started teleStory India. We spent two months there and went through its initial business development and local content development phases. It’s an exceptional entrepreneurship experience." Matthias was still excited when recalling the competition, when the team presented its idea to Mr. Clinton, Nobel laureates, billionaires and thousands of people. "Though we did not win the final, it was an extremely important and good experience." JOINING FOSUN, LUCKY BOY AS ALWAYS During our interview, two words were frequently heard. One was "challenge" and the other one was "lucky". Matthias considers himself a lucky boy, from the enrollment at SAIF, the victories in various competitions and gaining the job offer at Fosun. In addition to a number of life-time decisions, he also got married with his Chinese girlfriend during his study at SAIF after a 8-year relationship, "Arguably, all of these things call for hard efforts, but luck is also essential." Upon his graduation, Fosun is in urgent pursuit of foreign talents who have certain knowledge about China, Chinese culture and Chinese language. Prof. Hong CHEN recommended Matthias on the request of Mr. Xinjun LIANG, one of the SAIF DBA alumni and CEO of Fosun Group at that time. However, Matthias almost rejected Fosun’s HR call, thinking it might be a scam. However, Matthias had already got an offer after a few weeks. Fosun wanted to recruit full-time staff, however Matthias could only start as an intern as he had not graduated yet at that time. Thankfully, Fosun's HR persuaded his boss to give him an opportunity to try. After a period of probation, Matthias realized that Fosun is extremely suitable for young talents. "For young folks, Fosun is wonderful, because there are more learning and networking opportunities than in any other Chinese company. You get engaged in a lot of major projects, both domestic and overseas, and you will even have the opportunity to meet presidents or billionaires." In high recognition of its corporate culture, Matthias decided to join Fosun after his internship. Therefore, he officially became part of the Fosun team. Talking about his current job, Matthias is confident of his potential. "I feel lucky for having participated in three successful projects in the past few months. Though at the moment, I only deal with a small part of these projects, it helps me to build up my experience." Although the workload at Fosun is quite heavy, Matthias thinks that it’s a challenge which can enhance his ability to manage his time and priority. TRY YOUR BEST, MOVE ON WITH YOUR OWN PACE Matthias still keeps exercising despite his busy schedule. He used to train gymnastics when he was at a sports high school in Germany. He joined an exchange program and went to the U.S. for 11th grade. He chose to train running at that time as the school didn’t have gymnastics. He won the championship for local competition just after two week of training. Matthias suddenly became a star at school then. And at that moment he realized his talent of running. Matthias likes collecting minerals and has a deep love for deserts since he was very young. He heard of Asian Pacific Business School Desert Challenge during his study at SAIF, which he always kept in his mind. The Desert Challenge was only open to MBA students at that time. So he took the initiative and contacted the SAIF team leader of the 5th Desert Challenge. After communication with the organizing committee, he finally managed to participate in the competition as a member of the B Team. "I love deserts and contests. I’m good at running, but I don’t really like it. However, I did my best as I already made my mind to participate in the competition." To prepare for the 6th Desert Challenge, Matthias commuted to and from work by running. He ran at least 12.5 kilometers every single way. "I have to admit that this was almost too much since I lost all but one of my toe nails at that time." Everything comes to him who persists. On the first day, Matthias and his team mate Zhong YU were far ahead the third place with a 10-min gap. In the following two days, he stayed stable and was the first to finish. Eventually, Matthias hold the winner trophy of the 6th Asia Desert Challenge in his hands. According to him, "the most important thing in this competition is to maintain your body condition, because there may be a number of serious problems such as a sudden faint, salt depletion or a sprained ankle." It is critical to move on with your own pace, both in competition and in life. Matthias and Zhong YU (right) Matthias took part in SAIF Alumni Party REMINDERS AT LAST At the end of interview, Matthias mentioned that there are still many foreigners who don’t know a lot about China, Shanghai Jiao Tong University or SAIF. For overseas students who are interested in the MF program yet know little about China, Matthias’ advice is to come and experience China by yourself. Perhaps you will like China. Meanwhile, he also believes that alumni are very valuable resources. It is important to keep in touch and support each other during work and probation. Matthias also shared his insights and advice for international students who expect to develop their career path in China, that is, "Learn Chinese, stay flexible".

May 08 , 2017

Alumni Story | Tao KONG: Resetting to Zero Takes Me Eve ...

Ranked No.1 during his bachelor’s study at Nanjing University and awarded as the Excellent Graduate of Shanghai, Tao KONG (MF Class of 2010) had already gathered numerous glamor in titles while he was still a student. 5 years after graduation, he has now grown from a rookie into an elite in his industry. When asked about his success secret, he was very humble, “Resetting to zero takes me even further.” Time flies and it has already been 5 years since the graduation of the class of 2010 and all past students have been fighting for their own success in various industries. Let us walk into the life of Tao KONG, Senior Analyst of China Universal Asset Management, and listen to his story. In the morning of the scheduled interview, it rained lightly. Tao, however, showed up early at SAIF looking sharp and full of energy. Despite the formal dressing, he was cordial and gentle, giving people a first impression of being low-key and humble. The Past Tao KONG obtained his bachelor’s degree in Automation from Nanjing University. He has always been interested in finance and got offers from both SAIF and Guanghua School of Management (Peking University). He finally chose to come to SAIF without a hesitation, because he was deeply attracted by the excellent peers, strong faculty here at SAIF as well as the advanced coursework that are similar to that of overseas business schools. During the Summer Camp, Tao met top students from various universities in China. “Although we all had different backgrounds, everyone was the top of his/her field and we could learn a lot from one another. Even after graduation, we still now meet from time to time and I can learn something from them every time.” Looking back at the time spent at SAIF, Tao said, “The courses were very intensive and we indeed felt very pressured. However, now after we have started our career, I see those experiences as very helpful.” When it comes to the course that gave him the strongest impression, the first course that came to his mind was SAIF LIVE taught by Prof. Charles Chang, Director of MF Program. “This is a course where we were able to combine in-class knowledge with practical experience. They invited many experts from the financial industry as mentors and instructors to lead the students through real-life cases. This course helped me apply the knowledge learned into reality.” After working in the industry for several years, Tao feels that majority of the knowledge used in work is actually those learned at school. The only difference is that one needs to think more in addition to mastering the financial knowledge and tools. Only after understanding the fundamental assumptions will one be able to apply it into real work. The Present “Colleagues in the workplace all came from excellent backgrounds. Therefore, not only my professional knowledge but also comprehensive abilities were tested during work.” As a senior analyst of China Universal Asset Management, Tao currently focuses on investment research and analysis. He reads research reports, analyzes strategies and competitive advantages of industries and companies, forecasts future developments in order to conclude meaningful investment advices. “All capital market participants have experienced ups and downs, and uncertainty is something that everyone has to face.” Tao has also encountered difficult situations during work. A company he has given a “buy” rating to experienced significant price volatility since it was in the early stage of development. “When the temporary loss has attracted all attention to myself, it was definitely a critical test for my mentality.” In the end, through close tracking and research, Tao has confirmed his faith in the business model and the management team, and through effective communication, he has strengthened the confidence of the fund managers as well. Finally, the stock price rose back to its normal level. He said, “Most of my professional knowledge required at work was already obtained at SAIF. On the other hand, communication skills need to be improved during work in the real world. Sometimes a research analyst’s job in similar to that of a psychological therapist to fund managers. Communication is particularly important. At the same time, trust among the team members also needs time to develop.” The Future In the next five years, Tao hopes that he can transition from a research role to an investment role and become a top fund manager and generate more wealth for their customers. At the same time, he gave some advices to current MF students based on his own experience. In addition to fulfilling all responsibilities as students, they should improve their communication with their peers to broaden their horizon and learn from one another. In terms of career selection, interest is the best teacher. He sincerely hopes that students can correctly position themselves, fully make use of their own advantages and find a job they love. He also advised them to closely follow the market development in their daily life and utilize their spare time to personally experience the work conditions and natures of different industries.