Who am I, outside this blog? (CV-related aspects of me without the one-page constraint!)

Summary:

In lieu of a CV, this is the most you will see me talk about myself in a structured manner on this blog. I grew up in Sweden but with roots in Asia, and never really felt at home so at age 14 I wondered what I could do to jump ship. It led me to an international high-school diploma (International Baccalaureate), a hell of a senior year applying for schools worldwide while doing the completely un-Swedish thing of going around the country for SAT and ACT tests while interviewing for top schools and sending documents to all the corners of the globe. In 2008 I ended up in Hong Kong studying physics with a cushy scholarship, and realized I needed more finance knowledge coupled with Mandarin Chinese if I wanted to stay in Asia and actually contribute to companies here. Thus in 2011 I moved to Taiwan, where I have lived since, studying Mandarin Chinese as well as finance, and worked freelance for an IT company.

This is a list of longer activities and commitments I have undertaken throughout my life. I have chosen not to list short-term achievements and competition placements here at the moment, I am still undecided as to whether that goes below here in a separate heading or whether it warrants an own page, and if so when I have the energy to actually write meaningfully about any of these events. Don’t hold your breath.

For any detailed information on anything, please leave a comment and I will let you know how I can provide you with the information you are looking for. If you, based on this information, wish to hire me, please fill in a contact form (to be added imminently) and I’ll get back to you.

Education:

Master of Science in Banking and Finance, Taiwanese university, Summer 2014.

Gained an MSc from Taiwan’s top university – at least as measured by altitude of the main campus! – in the summer of 2014. I was admitted with a full two-year scholarship and living expense subsidy for 15 months of studies. My main course work has been in quantitative- and mathematical finance, investment analysis and valuation, and operation and management of financial institutions. My thesis work (to be outlined under the Open Prop Desk page) dealt with risk evaluation on large equity portfolios, where I built a framework to analyze the overall portfolio risk from models of relative individual portfolio component moves.

These relative moves were condensed to a single, outlier-sensitive number by use of an entropy model from physics, and analyzed on a relative monthly basis, then bench-marked against market traded implied volatility measures in time-series regressions and GARCH models. Long story short, in time-series regression there is way too much correlation between current risk levels, implied volatility and future realized volatility for the entropy models to do much good, but in the GARCH model certain entropy models significantly improve the risk measurement and does so in a way that largely mimics liquidity of the equity market in question.

My thesis received a 95% grade and my course work grade average on credit-bearing courses was 89.92%, resulting in a total grade average of 92.46%. I was awarded a Taiwan government scholarship given out for academic achievements in the fall semester, where in each semester I was ranked first in my comparison group at my university. I graduated with a First Class Honors distinction, one out of three awarded in a graduating class of more than 100 international students.

I was one of eight graduation dinner speakers in the international graduating group (Masters and Bachelor degree graduates alike), and one of four doing the speech primarily in English.

Detailed coursework includes (with scrambled course names):

  • Operational Management of Financial Institutions: We analyzed major multinational banks, international financial developments (such as QE program extensions) and global financial markets alternatively, with one project per week. I led my group of six in total and we were consistently at the top of the class.
  • Mathematical Finance: MS Excel and VBA-based course. Lots of stuff like vlookup, pivot tables, models, goalseek, etc., while also doing some relatively simple bond-, equity- and corporate valuations.
  • Methodologies of Business Research: SPSS- and EViews-based lectures on data analysis (primarily from surveys) and academic report writing. Principal component decomposition, multivariate regression, (M)ANOVA, cluster analysis, structural equation modelling and multidimensional scaling were the cross-sectional data analysis methodologies studied. I taught some classmates in the subject near the end of the term. Time series methods included time series regressions, co-integration, order reduction, and conceptual GARCH analysis.
  • Global Business Management: The vast majority of the course was graded on two major projects: one individual and one group project. my individual project was writing a case study of the qualitative aspects of Nomura Holdings acquiring the Asian assets of Lehman Brothers, while the group project was on the possibility for a specific major Hong Kong bank expanding its’ presence in Taiwan, as well as being a major trade finance player when China opens up its currency and allows more free cross-border trade.
  • Investment Valuation and Analysis: Relatively freestyle course, covering equity portfolio valuation and risk estimation (CAPM, basically) as well as a little bit more interesting points on equity- and bond valuation, but little of anything that isn’t covered in CFA 1. My project work for the course was on the pricing discrepancies in the Macau casino market, where I was one of three students in the whole class that presented my project in class.
  • China’s Economic and Political Development: Course covering the era of Chinese rule by the Communist Party with weekly readings and group topic projects, as well as two individual projects and one group term presentation. My individual project works were one pre-event analysis of the 2013 Third Plenum of the CCP and likely outcomes and policy directions that Xi Jinping could announce after his first major economic policy plenary session, and one analysis of the capital market development needs in China. The group project work was essentially a re-run of the GBM project but with a stronger focus on the capital market opening and how to reach targets set out in the China 2030 document put out jointly by the World Bank and Development Research Council of China.
  • International Marketing Strategy: Me and a friend evaluated strategies for launching a consumer banking arm of a specific major Chinese bank in Taiwan. I was also the teaching assistant for this course and convinced the professor to schedule a visit to a local Taiwanese company.
  • International Trade and Economics Seminar: Freestyle seminar presentations by the professor for half of every lesson on novel approaches to big economic problems (starvation, child labor, trafficking, poverty traps, etc.) with the second half largely dedicated to student seminars on related topics. My group presented first on the economic concerns for countries selecting the policy mix between currency controls, interest rate independence, and reserve accumulation policies. Our second presentation was a case study on the development problems preventing modernization of the Mongolian / Ulaanbaatar property sector.
  • Business Valuation and Financial Statement Analysis: In-depth course on academic research related to the functions of the capital markets, analysis of capital issuance and the effects on financial statements of specific market trends. My course project involved analyzing a paper that evaluated the extent that market-timing is present and successful in cases where capital market issuance significantly changes firm capital structure, and evaluating said paper against other available literature.
  • Financial Management: A class held in Mandarin Chinese on introductory financial management but with recommendations to look into financial issues on our own time, and analyze the financial dimension of news events.
  • Business Development and SME Decision Making: Class held for the local Taiwanese part-time MBA’s and Finance MSc’s conducted in Mandarin Chinese. I audited this course and it was probably the most intense out of all the classes, with a company visit to a prominent Taiwanese IT company, a course project and deep analysis of various financial considerations in growing an SME, starting a company and how to evaluate the financial benefit of non-financial business management decisions.

Bachelor of Science in Physics, A Hong Kong university, Summer 2011.

I graduated with a low grade in my physics degree, 5.55 out of 12 in my Graduating Grade Average, resulting in a very narrow 2:2 Honors degree. Here’s why:

  • I had other things to do. There’s more explanation of this later, under Activities.
  • There was grading on a curve, which I had never heard of before.
  • I was the sole international physics student – meaning I had no friends in upper classes (who weren’t “on my curve”) that could tutor me or much less give me hints or old papers/assignments for the same course. Now, of course the others “on my curve” wouldn’t wanna give a break to someone who is a near-guaranteed lower score than them, and neither would their senior friends.
  • I entered the university with no prep year, meaning I essentially jumped a year of maths and physics compared to my local classmates. Now, the Mainland Chinese had a prep year to get accustomed to Hong Kong, meaning they most likely had two years up on me academically.
  • Speaking of Mainland Chinese students… I have all the respect for these guys, it’s still not very fun being on a curve when there’s 40% who are more talented than you (my school accepted roughly 20% Mainlanders, and they all got into the quantitative subjects!), willing to work much harder than you, and have an extra year or two of schooling up on you. The fact that I had several province winners in Gaokao tests for science and maths as classmates didn’t really help.
  • I focused on passing my courses and graduating in three years. Biggest achievement of my life, probably the biggest mistake as well. Spring year 2, for example, had a couple of core courses with ~30% fail rates, only held once a year. Thus: fail once, you aren’t progressing to year 3; fail twice, you’re kicked out unceremoniously without a diploma! So, on statistically independent sets of students (not necessarily accurate, but it’s a decent a priori estimation given that some people will fail both no matter what, and others will give up everything else to at least pass one of them) there is a roughly 50% chance of graduating on time from this program if you get into year 2, which ignores all the people that jumped ship before.
  • There were other stupid decisions on my part from a grade perspective. Extracurricular activities, stock trading and networking was probably not that good for my grades. Now, would I ever have achieved First Class Honors here? Nope. Was a Second Upper in reach? Maybe, but the chances of that died pretty fast once I had to deal with studying PDE-dependent physics with a high school calculus background while catching up to the PDE’s on a very accelerated schedule. Living a little isn’t something I regret in that context: I wish I could have done more of it.

Detailed finance- and business-relevant course work includes:

  • Physics of Information: Applied physics course that I appreciated like none other, basically applying some really tough physics outside of the field to solve problems in finance, information theory, chemistry, or whatever our teacher felt like talking about. The course project involved making a trading algorithm (on a static historical data set with a test sequence and periodic updating) in VBA using Bayesian analysis on daily sequences of discretized equity returns (discretized to up, hold, down).
  • Solving Physics Problems with Advanced Mathematical Methods: Fun math and how to apply it using several different equally valid methods to solve problems. Complex -valued differential equations in linear algebraic form? Bessel-, Fourier-,  and Hankel series expansions? Complex space integration? Lots of fun stuff to know, not nearly as much fun learning about.
  • Statistical Mechanics: What normal people would call thermodynamics, but approached using the laws of Very Large Numbers, combinatorial math and probability. The course ended with emphasizing the use of strong mathematical tools such ascalculus on large partition functions to solve quantum thermodynamic problems.
  • Advanced Physics Laboratory Sessions: Four self-studied advanced physics concepts tested in the lab, at times using computer equipment and at times going “analog” but always working with large data sets and heavy statistical manipulation to reduce sources of uncertainty. Most liked labs were Brownian motion (involving stochastic modelling similar to that in finance) studied by light refraction of water-immersed plastic micron-sized neutral buoyancy pellets, and holographic photography setups.
  • Negotiation: Elective course from the business school. Highly interesting course about building win-win negotiation situations, from one of the top MBA schools globally (the cases are the same as in their EMBA classes). Classes included participation by every student in weekly negotiation cases between two parties, many parties, and group/faction negotiations. The covered course material focused heavily on identifying and only accepting negotiations where the bottom line (BATNA) could be improved on, but until then finding creative solutions for improving the outcome of the negotiations.

 

Work Experience:

This is intentionally kept rather short and unspecific, as in many cases added specificity would uncover my employer(s). Please do not be afraid to ask for any further information.

Content Editor, Taiwanese IT Company, Summer 2013 and onwards as a freelance agent.

The company is a small IT company doing apps for portable devices, primarily those manufactured by some of Taiwan’s biggest consumer electronics companies. I am helping out largely with content management, translating, curation, QA and content database management, but it is alot of odd jobs so I gotta keep on my toes. I have worked on several English-language database content QA and -merger projects due to my timely high-quality work on the baseline assignments.

Teaching and Administrative Assistant, Taiwanese University, Fall 2012 until early 2014.

As a teaching assistant I was the student assistant to the “International Marketing Strategy” class. I assisted in normal class administration, such as homework distribution and collection, lecture slide uploads, class notice distribution via email, and test information gathering. I proposed a simple effort-saving VBA homework correction algorithm for multiple-choice homework done in MS Excel, and assisted in proposing and arranging a company visit day in the Neihu Technology Park.

For administrative assistant duties, I explored the prospect of promoting the university in Sweden, held a seminar on Swedish culture to students of a cooperating university. Another project I undertook was drafting seminar materials for exchange-out students to prepare them for the logistics, concerns and good approaches in going abroad, as well as assisting in the preparatory meetings with them from the school.

Sales Intern, Southern Chinese Steel Company, Summer 2010

Disclaimer: I cannot back up having done this. Sadly the internship ended with poor relations between my employer and the agent that had recommended me, with no letter of recommendation or negotiation of continued employment. If asked in person, I will not discuss this in detail. Due to the significant lead time on any larger projects, I was expected to continue working on a part-time basis from Hong Kong while studying in 2010-2011 (which would allow me to collect commission on deals), but the events related to the termination of my working at the office rendered this untenable.

I was everything from European marketing manager to phone sales intern for this company. My project mainly concerned talking to potential larger European distributors of the company’s steel products, evaluating the sales terms, preparing potential negotiations and developing a European marketing strategy for the company. The experience of working there taught me a lot about the Chinese supply chains and corporate structures, as well as how to network effectively in China. More than anything, it taught me work ethic, the great inspiration that can come from going from luxury and development to a low material standard in a nearly unregulated business environment.

 

Activities:

Founding Chairman, International Student Organization, A Hong Kong university, 2008-2010

I led both the Organizing Committee (meaning doing all the prep work and getting a Constitution proposal voted through both the O-Co and the full member base) and the Inaugural Executive Committee. This represents the highlight of all the organizing work I have done in student societies, as it involved organizing students, promoting the society from nothing both in member counts and campus influence with administrative offices, and continually liaise with university Schools/Colleges, other student groups and overhead administrative offices. This obviously impacted my ability to study at the same intensity as my classmates. Highlights include:

  • Chairing every term-time monthly-to-biweekly Organizing- or Executive Committee meeting for two years. (Hyphentacular!)
  • Leading the organization of an international student forum to promote raising of international student issues, areas for contribution and raising their standing on campus overall.
  • Drafting and winning approval for the constitution of the organization.
  • Organizing and being chief responsible for four member drives that resulted in a 50% penetration rate (over 100 members) among then-current international student members. (The association is all-inclusive for all campus members in terms of membership and initial plenary voting rights, with international students and non-JUPAS-admitted students being able to invoke a veto conditional on reaching an internal double majority to vote down any proposal seen as misrepresenting their interests as a group.)
  • Organizing the Inauguration Ceremony of the first Executive Committee, inviting several administrative offices and key student groups as well as all members.
  • Organizing joint-university beach parties to celebrate the inaugurations of 2009 and 2010.
  • Organizing a Mid Autumn Festival celebration in 2009 together with an internationally focused residential dorm, the Mainland Students and Scholars Society at the university, as well as the restaurant area where the celebration was held.
  • Representing the organization at a major university campus ceremony organizing committee, and consulting the organizers on international cultural sensibilities, student helper management and overall event logistics and date management. My consultation resulted in having the venue changed to extend capacity by three times, allow for a more extravagant main event show by changing dates to allow for using a temporary large elevated stage in the campus main communal area, and provide student helpers and representatives a chance to display cultures from around the world in a booth area connected to the main event stage but sufficiently separated by distance to enable continuous side-events.
  • Organizing and leading the process of screening, electing and informing the next Executive Committee.

Member of the university Toastmaster’s club, 2008 – 2010.

I placed as the second runner-up in two consecutive campus-wide speech contests (Fall 2008 and Fall 2009), and represented the club in 2009 at an impromptu speech contest (referred to as competing in “table topics speeches”). The experience taught me a lot in getting my points across, thinking on my feet and building structured templates for speaking on a lot of issues, prepared or not. It was also a great chance to learn from others deeply interested in the art of persuasion.

CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) activities during the International Baccalaureate Programme, 2006-2008:

  • Organized a CAS activities / IB Programme / school promotion event at my high school and was the main male speaker/host.
  • Press spokesperson at a national education convention held in the city of my school.
  • Tutored junior IB students in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.
  • Table tennis practice coach in my home town. (I played table tennis between 1996 and 2008.)
  • Took Advanced OWD and Open Water Diver certificates during two trips to Hurghada, Egypt. (Some of my best travel memories!)
  • Gave several speeches on IB studies and what to expect from the program at a neighboring school who had just launched the program.

It predates the IB Programme proper, but as part of our international education our school registered our class for a pan-European high-school cooperation event. The event required six months of preparation between groups of four classes on a large project involving identifying an issue present in and manageable by the European Union, as well as providing recommendations for how to solve it. Our group chose education integration and multicultural exchange through student programs  as the main topic. The classes were to ultimately present the final findings at a conference in Austria in spring 2006. I was elected to participate as the Swedish representative in an educational panel debate in the concluding seminar series.

Student council engagement during middle school, 2000-2005:

You’re probably rolling your eyes right now! This started 14 years ago, what relevance can it have? Well, I learned a lot of my organizational and leadership skills at that time. First and foremost, I was elected as my class’s student representative in 2000. At this point I identified several problems with the student council at my school:

  1. The student government paid for a snack and soft drink for every member after every student council meeting. Not only was this barely affordable, it skewed incentives to join the student government.
  2. The student government got very little done besides eating snacks.
  3. Combining 1. and 2. led to the following problems: Ambitious and driven students that wanted to make a change couldn’t do it through the student council, and since meetings were during lecture time they’d rather study. Unambitious students with high popularity that wanted free snacks and to skip class could easily be elected by their classes. Unpopular students (in classes that overall saw the student council as a stupid waste of time) took on the role to get away from classes or because their classes more or less forced them (I belonged to this category).
  4. My school was organized with five “clusters” of classes spanning years 6-9 (with ideally one to two of each year in every cluster) with each cluster in a separate building. They had their own individual “mini student councils” running in parallel – thus the student council received matters better internally resolved in the clusters, and vice versa, with little communication in orderly fashion between any of these organizational layers.
  5. There was no accountability of the students in their representation, meaning that a lot of times students who got bored or had classes simply didn’t come, or got swapped out without the student council being informed and the replacement not showing up, meaning that a nearly 50-person student council often was attended by nine student council committee members, ten representative members and fifteen people who had nothing to say but felt like getting some snacks during their break. The student council never got to hear a majority of student issues since the voices for those issues were not interested in speaking up.
  6. The council committee members were also their class representatives, meaning that on the few occasions that something got done, it was always to the benefit of the committee member classes, making the whole thing look corrupt.

How did I get involved with changing all of this? What did I do that added merit?

  • Leading up to my second year in the student council, me and a small group of other driven members decided to reform the student council by proposing changes and working hard to realize them. This meant that five of us got elected to non-chairing committee posts, with me being the luckiest by scoring a major seat in the role of Secretary.
  • First, we abolished the monthly snack and saved the money, compensating instead with a slightly larger event (a free brunch at a local bistro) at year-end for members who had attended regularly and joined the student council photography session. This meant that there were fewer students present, but it allowed enough decision-making power that the student council could expand the student-ran café with an increased snack- and lunch selection, installing a refrigerated soda machine, and eventually renovate and use an old pool table. in student common areas. We also gained a student council administration desk in a shared office for us to manage printouts, collecting receipts and handling general inquiries.
  • I personally distributed the student council minutes to all class clusters, taking time to speak to the teachers at all clusters and winning approval for further reforming the student council and cluster councils.
  • My proposal to the school Principal to have two class representatives going to each cluster council, and out of those the cluster councils electing two representatives for the student council, with the student council committee being non-class representative administrators answering to all students at the school, won a council vote and gave me the chairman seat on the student council committee. This meant that I would be the youngest student council chairman at my school that anyone could remember, and definitely one of very few 8th-graders to ever manage that.
  • As per a prior deal with the headmaster, the student council got access to one of the school’s main conference rooms (because we were now 17 regular members which was few enough to actually meet in a conference room) and a large council committee room, specifically for meeting, storing goods and props related to the student council and allow for all previous matters handled at the student council desk to now be handled in the committee room.
  • The reforms meant that me and the vice chairman during the following year received compensated nonvoting consultancy seats (roughly €20 per monthly meeting) on student matters at the town council’s child and youth matters committee. (My school was the biggest school in town, hosting the oldest students – we were simply not a very big town!)
  • This allowed the student council at my school to effectively negotiate higher spending on food in the school canteen, leading more people to actually have the freely provided lunch at school.

Because of all of this, whenever there was a major event at my school or in the region regarding education matters, I was always a clear consideration for the representation, despite the fact that I still attended middle school. It taught me how to speak and negotiate fearlessly but constructively with authority (going all the way up to national minister posts), prepare for major events and thoroughly research any matter of debate, and learn to rely on to other people and build them into roles and increasing their confidence by means of delegated responsibility. It taught me the weight of communication, keeping people both above and below in the information flow tightly updated at several stages, and it gave me experience in building structures to promote information flows between people so they get he right information and can take decisions at the right time, not needing unnecessary involvement from others.

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