Personal Statement

A number of years ago when China was to join the WTO, China’s banking industry was depicted by international media as “technically bankrupt” and was predicted as unable to withstand the competition from its international counterparts. However, the situation is totally contrary. Six Chinese banks and three insurance companies listed on Hong Kong stock market have become the blue chip stocks much sought after by international buyers. By August 20XX, the combined value of the four stock markets in the Greater China Region (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) has exceeded that of Japan to be the world’s No. 2, second only to that of the United States. Since 20XX, the total volume of IPO financing in Hong Kong and mainland China has become world’s No. 1.

While remaining optimistic about the future of China’s financial industry, there are three essential issues: the risks that once threatened to jeopardize China’s financial industry are still there and have been increasing; drastic reforms are needed in the country’s financial sector in order to reduce frictions with major western countries; and there are still major challenges ahead to be faced as the international capital market changes so rapidly and fickly. For this reason, China’s financial market is still quite fledgling and requires the efforts of financial professionals including financial engineers in the following decades to make it full-fledged. Having been following the developments in international and domestic financial markets in recent years, I find that this is the right time for me to prepare for a career in the financial profession by pursuing a top-notch graduate program in financial engineering.

The Master’s program in Financial Engineering at Columbia University a multidisciplinary field that requires familiarity with financial theory, the methods of engineering, the tools of mathematics and the practice of programming. As an undergraduate of engineering, a graduate of computer science, and an IT software engineer at Irdeto and IBM, two global-leading international IT corporations, I have strong backgrounds that meet most of your requirements and in those areas I have not been strong, I have made important endeavors to make them strong. Therefore, I believe I am perfectly fitted into your program.

My engineering background comes first from my undergraduate studies as a student majoring in Automation at the College of Information, Beijing Union University. Through the program, I focused on two tracks: (1) network control & control technology; (2) information processing and intelligence technology. This program gave me important training in mathematics (Calculus, Linear Algebra, Probability and Mathematical Statistics, etc), engineering methodologies. With special interest in computer science, I practiced programming at the Embedded System Training Center. My undergraduate training helped me develop a distinctive problem-oriented way of engineering thinking—analyzing and solving practical problems through effective and appropriate approaches.

It was with my demonstrated knowledge and expertise in computer science that I succeeded in entering the graduate school of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA, now changed to Beihang University) as a CS student. The School of Computer Science and Engineering is ranked among top 3 in China. I did more than a dozen courses in CS, laying emphasis on developing my programming skills. As teaching assistant, I helped deliver the course Computer Architecture to CS undergraduate. In terms of mathematics, apart from required courses, I audited Numerical Analysis and Stochastic Differential Equation. Academically, I came up with distinguished performance—my GPA reached 3.4, ranking top 5 in the entire grade. My academic excellence is further demonstrated in the two honors I received in the graduate program. I was the sole receiver of the “ChengFei Scholarship” among 160 students in my grade. With the fruitful research in my dissertation “The Study and the Realization of the Information Service Technology of Urban Transportation Public Space”, I was honored as the “Outstanding Graduate of BUAA,” which represents the highest honors that a graduate student could ever aspire to.

During my Master’s program, under the guidance of my advisor Weng Jingnong, professor of CS and GIS, I was involved in such projects as “Design of Beihang University Digital Campus,” “The Coding System and Structure of Beijing Municipal Public Transportation Corporation,” “Forest Resource GIS Management for GuCaiHe Forestry Bureau of Inner Mongolia”, and a collaborative “WorkFlow” Project. My contributions in modeling to the project “Vehicle Monitoring System in the City of Guanzhou” are a major achievement. The project involved space-time data modeling to create two major query functions—time-based historical trajectory query and space- and time-based historical periods query. By analyzing a large quantity of vehicle GPS statistical data and the demands and space-time data models, I proposed an Improved Space-Time Cube Model and a corresponding algorithm. All those projects involved complicated data analysis, development of database, and coding and programming.

Upon my graduation in March 20XX, I was employed by Irdeto (Beijing Development Center), a global-leading provider of content protection technology with headquarters located in Amsterdam in Holland. I was the sole Master’s student without any formal working experience to be recruited by Irdeto since its entry into China in XXXX. As Irdeto software engineer for approximately two years, I have been mainly engaged in developing Embedded Software using the C and C++ languages; meanwhile, I was also involved in developing HST (Host Simulation Tool), with C++, which can simulate the set-top box environment on PC, thus making the code test much easier. My most important project experience is the LPPV (Local Pay Per View), a special request by Telecom Italia to be used for the next-generation digital TV. SoftCell2.X and Embedded CA Task2.X are two key products to be developed for the STB software. On my part, I independently completed the entire component design, development and coding, and unit test of LPPV. In the DigiTurk project, I developed the middleware CA glue for clients in Australia and Turkey whereas in Tumedia, I developed Embedded CA Task for the client in South Korea.

Then, in Sept. 20XX, I joined IBM as software engineer in charge of testing Lotus Expeditor 6.X, specifically testing such modules as WorkBench, Restricted WorkBench, Application Launcher, Application Lifecycle, WorkBench and Admin Portlet. For Lotus Expeditor6.1.2, I was responsible for platform content. In developing the Automation Test, I prepared the test script and test application, both based on Java and developed under the Eclipse environment. At IBM, serving as both team lead and project manager, I received two important awards from U.S. headquarters for the speedy delivery of Lotus Expeditor 6.1 and for independently setting up the TAM SPNEGO testing environment for Expeditor 6.1.2. In addition, I organized team members to do comprehensive statistical analysis of more than 3000 SPR(software problem report), concerning each bug’s cause, phase, incidence, repair, and function and, by applying Multiple Linear Regression model, obtained conclusive mathematical model and postmortem, which can predict the quantity of defects within the scope of next project. An important outcome of my professional experience at IBM is that I became familiar with the deployment of various IBM products such as Lotus, Tivoli, DB2, Rational, etc.

While I have a very strong engineering background, my financial knowledge is relatively weak. That is why I have used every opportunity available to assimilate financial knowledge. The projects I undertook during my Master’s program are related to finance and economics software as financial reports and financial modeling were involved. My first real involvement in financial study was working as research assistant to Mr. XXX, professor of finance from the University of International Business and Economics, who recruited me into his research group to develop the options-based KMV model for rating Chinese corporations into different credit categories when issuing loans. When Prof. XXX created the Department of Financial Engineering in 20XX, I started auditing courses at his Department—Financial Engineering, Derivatives, and Risk Management, etc. This serves as a necessary preparation for a more rigorous and formal FE program at Columbia.

With the increasing opening of China’s financial market, financial products will become increasingly diversified, such as commodity future market, financial future market and corporate bond market. This will lead to further introduction of financial instruments and derivative instruments. In this process, the development of new financial products and their risk management will become two major issues. Lack of risk management once caused a payments crisis on China's Shanghai Stock Exchange in XXXX, which almost led the government to ban bonds futures and to scale down commodities futures. To obviate the repetition of history, we need to establish a sound system of financial technology support through financial engineering.

This is the future in which I envision my career development. Through your program, I wish to gain systematic knowledge and skills in financial engineering, with special focus on improve my finance knowledge. I hope to continue to enhance my quantitative, programming and modeling skills in order to meet the increasingly complicated challenges posed by the sophisticated and volatile financial market. Having acquired proficiency in mathematical tools such as Matlab, I expect to grasp new tools and learn how to apply mathematical software and software of financial transactions and analysis. By capitalizing on my background in CS and software engineering, I will explore how to bring IT and financial industry closer together and to achieve innovations in financial engineering from the perspective of IT. I would like to bring the acquired expertise back to China and use it to help China thrive and compete in a dynamic global environment.


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