For many professionals, pursuing a master in finance degree is a strategic move to gain specialized knowledge and transferable skills enabling them to transition their career to the next level.
In today's rapidly evolving global economy, with revolutionary new technologies and constant innovations in products, services, and processes, the ability to pivot and adapt to new challenges and opportunities is essential for career success, and a master’s degree is a great way to hone those skills.
This was the case for Catherine Yaying Lin who harnessed the global network and transferable skillset she gained in HKUST-NYU’s MS in Global Finance (MSGF) to elevate her knowledge and enhance her career.
Choosing a post-experience finance degree
Catherine started her career in transportation and infrastructure, building her experience before later moving into the real estate industry.
This led her to CFLD International, a company that helps build and advance industrial-focused cities, where she worked on Greenfield and Brownfield development projects.
Working on this arm of the company led her to develop an interest in finance.
“As an infrastructure, Greenfield and Brownfield projects are capital intensive,” Catherine explains. “I got involved and worked with financial institutions, funds, and investment bankers. I sensed that, if I professionally trained in finance, it would bring my career to the next level.”
When searching for degrees to help achieve her goal, Catherine found the HKUST-NYU MSGF program perfectly suited her criteria. First by being a global program taught in three global financial centers and second by catering to a network of experienced finance professionals.
The MSGF’s highly experienced class has an average age of 35 with students each having 12 years of work experience on average.
“We had classmates from almost every major institution, like UBS and BMO, and our class consisted of more than 20 nationalities,” Catherine explains.
Developing a broad skillset
After enrolling in the program, Catherine (pictured) was immediately struck by the depth and breadth of the MSGF curriculum.
“We covered almost all finance specializations: macroeconomics, valuation, fixed income options, futures and other derivatives, crypto version molecules and products,” she says.
While she originally thought only a handful of these topics--valuation, bonds, and macroeconomics--would be more relevant to her specific career path, she has noticed others popping up in her work since graduation.
“As I’ve progressed, the rest of the topics started to come into my work,” she says. “So, I have already been rewarded for my efforts in the classes.”
Courses that touched on equities, cryptocurrency, and blockchain, also allowed Catherine to develop her expertise in investments.
She was particularly inspired by a Stern professor, David Yermack who predicted the success of Bitcoin. “It was only worth $3,000 USD and one year later, it jumped to $60,000 USD. When I look back on this class, I’m amazed.”
Gaining global experience
One of the major advantages of HKUST-NYU’s MS in Global Finance is the global exposure students gain from learning in three major finance hubs: New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Catherine explains how those students who come from Asia expose their Western peers to the Hong Kong markets, and the reverse happens in New York.
“We bring the classmates from other countries to get exposure in Hong Kong, so they can understand Asian markets and Asian financial markets, and in New York it’s the other way around,” she says.
Catherine found her introduction into Western markets in New York particularly rewarding, where she learned about the intense mindset and methods involved in the New York financial markets.
Building on the practical nature of the program, the experiential focus gives students exposure to global perspectives through various group projects and assignments.
“In each module on almost every class, we were given a group project,” Catherine says. “The group is always from different backgrounds, and everyone has different specializations in the industry. So, we built up our network and a bond among us.”
Elevating to new career heights
Since graduating from the program, Catherine is working in investment management, covering risk management as well. She continuously uses the skills she gained during the MSGF, she says.
“I can feel the differences today compared with before the program. My understanding of financial markets is very different. I know how to tap into financial markets to boost business in the traditional industries.”
Today, Catherine has transitioned to a new Chinese real-estate company where she works as a risk manager. The role combines the hard and soft skills she gained on the program requiring her to effectively lead a team.
“The most important parts are how to guide the team, and how to provide the right advice for the company with the sufficient financial knowledge,” she says.
Catherine’s experience on the HKUST-NYU MS in Global Finance has given her a sought-after skillset and a rich network, both of which she has harnessed to level up her career.
“The MSGF is for those who want to bring their career to the next stage. It not only enhances your technical skills, but also helps you to expand your network globally in these markets."