Students Stories

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.