Shannon Gong, GDB'15, MFin'16

May 07, 2018

Why did you choose Smith for your Graduate Diploma in Business and Master of Finance?

I knew that if I ever did a business degree, Smith would be my top choice. It’s known as one of Canada's best business schools. Smith is also known for having a tight-knit community that nurtures a supportive and friendly environment to learn and grow. The GDB provided me a smooth transition from law to business, and the MFin program successfully transitioned me into a full-time finance professional.

Why did you do your MFin in Beijing?

China is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy and on the world stage. Studying in the capital city of the world's second-largest economy provided me with a lot of exposure to the Asian financial markets and gave me deep insights into the cultural aspect of mainland China.

Tell us about your internship experience in China?

I did a three-month internship with the Canadian embassy’s economics and finance department in Beijing. It definitely helped me gain insight into the Chinese economy from both the Chinese and Canadian perspectives. I had to process information from local Chinese sources and analyze them. The internship gave me a lot of talking points for my later interviews in the financial industry. Particularly, I was able to illustrate what I learned about the Chinese economy and apply my research skills in my subsequent roles at both UBS in Hong Kong and Invesco in Toronto. 

What is your most memorable Smith experience?

While doing my Master’s, I was able to help found the Beijing branch of the Queen's University Alternative Assets Fund (QUAAF). QUAAF is an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in managing a hedge fund and do relevant research in the area. This initiative is still active in our Beijing MFin program, and I am glad I was able to leave somewhat of a legacy for incoming students.

What advice would you give someone looking to do their MFin or GDB program?

Many people new to the financial industry always regard the seeking of opportunities in the most conventional way­–that is, applying through online formal processes. The truth is, going the conventional way is never enough. You have to go out and create those opportunities for yourself. To stand out, you have to earn it by do something different, by being extra-proactive. That’s the nature of business.

What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

At UBS, I successfully helped implement a new firm-wide business strategy aimed at transforming the entire way business was done. I am glad I was able to make a smooth transition into finance, while never abandoning my legal background. I am currently working on a side project related to law and business.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I have a twin! She's also in finance and was the main inspiration for me to switch into the field. We live in different cities, so most people would not know I have a twin. However, I do occasionally bump into someone at a business event, or even at Smith, who calls out my twin’s name, thinking that I am her.