#Why Guanghua# is a special feature on our MBA students' stories with Guanghua School of Management. Having worked in Fintech industry for three years, Xue Hng is now exploring the business world at Guanghua. Read his story!
Chuang Xue Hng
Previous School and Major: The University of Chicago, Statistics
Most Recent Employer and Job Title:
Senior Analytics Analyst (Data Scientist), FinTech Company in Chicago
Q: Can you give us a brief introduction of your experience?
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and majored in Statistics. During my 3 years there, I was fully immersed in the “Life of the Mind” as they call it. Most of my interests were academic in nature, as I participated actively in astrophysics and computer science research, spent countless hours proving mathematical theorems, and debated about socio-political ideas.
From unofficial slogans such as “That’s all well and good in practice but how does it work in theory”, “Where fun comes to die” and “Fun, not dead, just overanalyzed”, one can tell that UChicago is a place where students revolve around intellectual thought. My friends and peers were all extremely inquisitive people, many of whom had a clear disdain for anything practical and instead had primarily intellectual pursuits. My experience at UChicago convinced me that the good life is one that is enriched by thought.
After graduation, I worked at a leading Fintech firm in Chicago as a Data Scientist for about 3 years.
My primary responsibility was to use machine learning solutions to optimise financial portfolios. Often, this required the employment of boosted trees, neural nets, and quite a bit of unsupervised learning.. This also required the processing of a huge amount of financial and consumer data.
I’d say that my day-to-day work involved a lot of in-depth analysis into aforementioned data, as well as devising new methods or algorithms to solve financial problems. These problems can be pretty wide-ranging. For example, I built models aimed to predict financial defaults, optimise marketing channels, detect different types of financial fraud, deal with complaints, etc. Each problem did require its own tailored solution, and my team and I would spend many hours trying to devise innovative solutions to these problems.
Apart from doing technical work, I was also involved in many meetings with stakeholders from other departments. As data scientists, not only did we have to work closely with the Strategy and Operations team(s) to ensure that the business objectives were being met, we also had to co-operate closely with product managers, software engineers, data engineers, as well as marketing, accounting, and legal personnel, etc. This gave me the opportunity to understand the FinTech industry a little better, and appreciate the importance of thinking from the perspectives of others when working in a team.
On the whole, I did learn quite a bit about finance and data science/machine learning from my experience, and am grateful for the opportunity to deal with the nitty-gritty details of data science. I’d say that it gave me deep insights to how data and algorithms are changing industries and societies, their trajectory into the future, and how they can be very cool and frightening at the same time.
Q: What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?
I decided to pursue an MBA at this juncture because I wanted some change in my life. Having been immersed in the technical aspects of a firm, I was keen on learning more on business, strategy and management. In essence, I was basically staring at data about the world without really seeing the world for what it is. I am hoping that an MBA education would provide me with such a platform to understand the world a little better.
In addition, an MBA gives you 2 years to make new friends from all walks of life. I’m not sure that we’ll have many opportunities later on in life to meet so many bright people from such diverse backgrounds at the same time, and I am appreciative of this opportunity to get to know many of my classmates.
Q: Why China (at both macro and personal level)?
I only applied to Chinese programs not only because I wanted a diversify my experiences beyond the West, but more because I wanted to return to my cultural roots and understand a great deal more about modern China and its influence on the entire Asia-Pacific region.
When I was in the U.S., I felt that many had a lot of misunderstandings about China, or at the very least thought about China in a one-dimensional manner. This propelled me to feel that I had to experience China firsthand in order to make my own assessment of who China truly is. In addition, I do believe that history intricately affects the present. Given that the Chinese civilisation has lasted several thousand years, I have a great deal to learn about how Chinese culture and history affects modern China today, and thus wanted to be in China itself to broaden my perspectives.
Career-wise, it is obviously a good idea to gain a better understanding of China. I think this goes without saying given China’s prominence in the world. I’d say that Guanghua does give you an excellent platform to be exposed to Chinese culture and heritage. Moreover, PKU Guanghua’s quality of education and reputation in China is unparalleled, and you’ll be able to make full use of countless academic and professional opportunities here.
I’d have to say that my experience thus far with PKU Guanghua has been nothing short of awesome. From making many new friends to exploring the intricacies of Chinese culture, every moment has been really enjoyable. Sure, with COVID and all, there are some obstacles that we all have to work around. However, I maintain that I have no regrets in pursuing an MBA at Guanghua, as I feel that these valuable friendships and perspectives cannot be acquired anywhere else.
Q: What was the key factor(s) that led you to determine on Guanghua instead of other school, and why was it so important to you?
This sounds like an admissions essay question so here goes…
1) Guanghua pays special attention to social responsibility. Personally, I believe that ethical and moral behaviour is especially important, and is often lacking in many corporate enterprises. Guanghua’s unique emphasis on this is very appealing to me.
2) Guanghua is part of Peking University and therefore understands the importance of the humanities. I believe that business school courses at top programs are pretty similar. If you’re simply looking to learn a bunch of theories and tools, you can achieve that in any decently good program. However, Peking University’s academics, scholars, and students often view matters from a philosophical, cultural and literary perspective. These perspectives really enrich the subject matter, and imbue us with a philosophical disposition to approach life itself.
3) I actually really enjoyed the entire admissions process with Guanghua staff. Everyone was super friendly and nice to me, and respected my thoughts, opinions and ideas. They gave me a really good impression of the school.
4) Peking University’s campus is really beautiful!
Q: Do you think Guanghua will help with your career? If so, why?
Most definitely! Guanghua has excellent career resources in China. Whether you’re trying to find a job post-graduation or be an entrepreneur, you can tap into the wealth of resources here at Guanghua to propel you forward. Given Guanghua’s reputation in China, you’ll continue to be recognised as you progress in your career.
Q: What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why?
Guanghua kids are insane hahaha. They’ll turn your face into GIFs and throw cake in your face. But beyond the fun and games, they really know their stuff and work hard when it counts.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hmm.. so apart from doing work, I love to read books on history & culture, philosophy, and sociology. However, these pursuits require some focus so I regrettably haven’t had the luxury to engage in them since commencing the MBA program.
I do exercise frequently, and love going out to have a meal with close friends.
The rest of my time is family time.
Q: Since the classes are held online for students who are not able to come to China right now, did you meet any problems during your study? How did you solve them?
I’d say that there isn’t an issue with learning the lesson content. However, an MBA is much more than that, and I feel that we’ve had to find ways to interact more with classmates and friends. An online experience is definitely not the same as an offline one, but we do our best to overcome the challenges as they arise.
Our class has been really proactive thus far, and have taken a lot of initiative to hold online meetup sessions to help everyone get to know one another better. Group projects have also involved both offline and online students, which allows the online students to mingle more with offline students.
Despite the challenges, I have already gained a lot from being part of Guanghua’s program, and expect much more in the time to come!
Q: What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?
I’m not too sure how to answer this question actually, I feel like my life gradually just happened.
Q: What’s the plan after graduation / where do you see yourself in ten years?
I don’t even know what I’m going to eat for lunch tomorrow. But I guess if I’m going to make a 10-year projection, I’d hope that I’ll have a happy and healthy family, a close circle of friends, and will be pursuing a career that I love.