Ph.D. to MFE: How Zongyi Gong landed a research position at Barclays


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MFE 2017 Zongyi Gong took his passion for research and translated it to the world of finance through the Berkeley MFE program. He is currently doing research at Barclays Capital in the Market Risk department.  

In 2013, Zongyi completed his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Virginia. Before joining the Berkeley MFE program, he worked on scientific research in the field of medical imaging at UVa Radiology. Zongyi was drawn to the MFE program for its reputation of renowned lecturers and their distinct ways of looking at the world of finance; he also believes that many topics in finance are in need of innovation and scientific exploration.

“I came into the program knowing almost nothing about finance, but I know I will leave a well-rounded practitioner, equipped with in-depth knowledge and market intuition.”

The program taught more than just models and technical skills. Zongyi said that he learned to look at markets and people's incentives and behaviors rationally and irrationally. Pure data science cannot get far without in-depth domain knowledge. Becoming a domain expert in finance is as important as being able to manipulate the data.

“The final exams of the program are designed to test one’s ability to think logically, innovatively, and critically on-the-spot. They are about forming one’s basic logics and connecting dots when facing scattered information and uncertainty. They are designed to explore insights. They are the big picture.”

Active portfolio/risk management combined with empirical and optimization methods is an interest of Zongyi and he feels that this will allow him to interact with the market in real time and deploy top-edge quantitative methods to solve current problems. Zongyi has learned to think not only quantitatively but also intuitively. He described his ability to formulate financial problems into a mathematical framework with sound economic logics and how to choose the optimal method to tackle each problem.

“If one can only find a better self in an extraordinary, stimulating, and challenging environment, I found mine in the Berkeley MFE.” -- Zongyi Gong, MFE 2017

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE Program and how we can help you launch your career by going to our website or by joining an information session.

About The Author

As Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Berkeley MFE Program, my role-among other things-is to develop and maintain contacts with firms to find opportunities for the students and place them in outstanding internships and full-time positions.