Berkeley MFE: a launching pad
I realized that several of the people I knew and admired had gone through the Berkeley MFE. In addition to the rankings, those personal recommendations made it the obvious choice.
Talking with a few Berkeley grads made it clear that the degree is a real launching pad. As my first job after my undergrad degree got progressively narrower, I wanted to expand my professional options and to leverage my technical and mathematical abilities to greater advantage.
A global network for a global career
I was pleased to work with Professor Laurent El Ghaoui and Emmanuel Vallod as an early member of their startup, SumUp Analytics. Working so closely with Professor El Ghaoui was an amazing opportunity and an example of how approachable and entrepreneurial the Berkeley faculty is. He is such a brilliant, open-minded individual, and having him as a professor underscores the school’s commitment to keeping the curriculum on the cutting edge.
SumUp seeks to apply data science to the huge volumes of textual data we all encounter in our daily lives. Their software rapidly analyzes texts to uncover key ideas and presents them in an easy-to-access digest form. It is the perfect example of applying state-of-the art research to solve real problems at scale.
Returning to Singapore was a bit unexpected, but welcome, and it came with a unique opportunity to join Aralian Capital, a new macro hedge fund headed by Panich Prompat, MFE 05. He is a fantastic investor with a very strong reputation in the markets. The program office made the introduction, and we clicked right away.
An intellectually stimulating environment
I really enjoyed living and learning at such a high level of intellectual challenge. The faculty is stellar. Conversations with them raise your game and remind you of the value of intellectual curiosity.
Being class president gave me an opportunity to reach out to senior leaders in major financial firms to ask them on campus as guest speakers. I was most excited to have Mike Vernal of Sequoia Capital join us. It was such a privilege to have that kind of access and to hear from a leading venture capitalist where the future might take us.
A culture of collaboration and teamwork
Berkeley MFE grads do not have cookie-cutter skills; there is no groupthink. We are all individuals, differentiated in our approaches. But we do share a confidence in our abilities, and we trust each other.
We were such a diverse group in terms of background and experience that every team project became an opportunity to learn from each other. The team assignments were also a good reminder of the importance of soft skills, like motivating peers and leading laterally.