The Long and Short of It: Goals on the Way to a Career in Investment
When it comes to career planning, Fenglin Wang (M.S. FIN ’23) sets goals, both where she wants to end up and the mileposts that will get her there. Her current short-term goal brought her from Shenzhen, China, to Illinois Institute of Technology.
“My ultimate career goal is to become a successful individual investor,” says Wang, “and I came to Stuart School of Business for my graduate studies to learn how to invest.”
Based on her record in Stuart’s Master of Science in Finance program—including success in international finance competitions, membership in the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society, and a leadership position in the student-run Stuart Investments organization—she clearly has aced this goal.
“One of the great benefits of Stuart is that you have a lot of opportunities and challenges to improve yourself,” says Wang. Soon after starting her program, she joined Stuart Investments, which manages a $1.3 million portfolio and serves as a hands-on training ground for students in equity research, fundamental analysis, valuation models, and portfolio analysis.
As she began her second year at Stuart, Wang was at the center of a whirlwind of activities. She became Stuart Investments’ fund manager, organizing club activities, sharing her expertise with other students, making presentations at meetings, and writing the quarterly reports for the investment fund.
She was also selected for student teams representing Illinois Tech in two prestigious international finance competitions—the McGill International Portfolio Challenge (MIPC) and the CFA Institute Research Challenge—that require students to conduct rigorous research, develop sophisticated investment reports, and defend their work in front of industry professionals.
“Fenglin is one of the students I really relied on in these competitions,” says Clinical Associate Professor of Finance Michael Rybak, who serves as faculty adviser for the MIPC and CFA Challenge teams, as well as Stuart Investments. “She’s a really good leader, and with her attitude she can always bring the team up when things get difficult or are down.”
“These two challenges were really wonderful experiences to apply what I had learned at Stuart,” says Wang. For the MIPC, she was mainly responsible for the fundamental analysis. The team advanced to the semifinals and won the competition’s Best Storytelling Award. As a team leader in the CFA Challenge, where the team finished a close second in the Chicago regional competition, Wang led the financial analysis, forecasting, and valuation part of the team’s report, a key aspect of the contest judging.
“There are very few students who compete in both McGill and CFA, because there is so much work in each of those that people get burned out,” Rybak notes. “She was able to do all of that while getting top grades in her courses and still having a life outside of school.”
Wang also joined three other Stuart finance students to compete in the CME Group University Trading Challenge, in which teams engage in real-time trading of futures contracts in a simulated, professional trading platform. The team, called Best Hawk, soared to a sixth place finish in the field of 498 teams from 23 countries.
“The CME Challenge is a relatively real trading environment, including the very true pressure in the face of rising and falling prices,” Wang says. “With the short duration of the competition and the high volatility of the market and stock prices, it is very challenging.”
In her final semester, Wang has tackled another opportunity to learn how to invest with a 20-hour-per-week internship at multinational investment bank UBS, where she is focusing on risk management and financial modeling.
Now that she is graduating, Wang says that her next short-term goal is to work in finance for several years to gain a deeper understanding of the industry and determine the best path to reach her long-term career goal.
“She’s not afraid of taking on any kind of challenge,” Rybak says. “Fenglin has both excellent quantitative finance skills and excellent qualitative skills, which is rare. Whatever she decides to do, she will succeed.”