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Strathclyde Business School

Economics research skills led to career gain

By Jinkai Zhang - Posted on 2 September 2020

Studying for a PhD, Jinkai Zhang found Strathclyde Business School's flexibility to be a key benefit, and the skills learned led him to securing his current post. Here, he outlines more about his experience. 

I was a PhD student in the Department of Economics from 2017-2020. My research area is in Financial Economics. The flexibility allowed within Strathclyde Business School allowed me to benefit from the supervisors in both the Department of Economics and the Department of Accounting and Finance. My primary supervisor Julia Darby guided me to develop academic writing, research and  presentation skills which built a solid foundations to develop my research ability. My second supervisor, Hai Zhang, provided me with strong support for the finance perspectives of my research and made valuable suggestions with respect to conference and journal submissions and my career development.  

The opportunity to take optional courses as part of the required PgCert in Research Methods allowed me to develop my skills in R programming and Financial Econometrics. These classes dramatically increased my coding skills and my understanding of financial modelling and facilitated my coding of the sophisticated models I used in my empirical research. In summary, it would not be an overstatement to say that the majority of research skills were developed at Strathclyde Business School! 

I submitted my thesis in February 2020 and immediately moved to the City of London at February 2020, to take up a part-time post at Clear Macro. From the outset the agreement was that this would become a full-time post after the award of my PhD. I passed my viva in April 2020 and have now transferred to a full-time Quantitative Developer and Researcher role at ClearMacro which is a FinTech company dedicated to “supercharging the performance of institutional investors”. I undertake research on investment returns and estimation of returns at multiple-horizons using advanced econometric models. I also have a broader role in the enhancement of our platform and coding structure.  

There are usually three key skills to become a Quantitative Developer and Researcher in the Finance industry: mathematics, programming and finance research skills. The skills I developed during my PhD study were key to my securing my current post. The R programming training I completed in my first year as a PhD student enables me to develop and extend the complicated algorithms used in research papers. Based on the deep understanding of coding systems I have easily extended my coding knowledge to Python and .net languages.  Papers from my PhD have been accepted by a couple of leading finance conferences including the European Financial Management Association, the Financial Management Association and the Dynamic Econometrics Conference. The experience I gained in making conference presentations allowed me to explain my research methods and key findings to a range of audiences. These skills, developed during time as a PhD student at Strathclyde Business School not only helped me greatly in my job applications, but will serve me well in my career going forward.  

Please click here for more information on research degrees in Economics and here for information on research degrees across the Business School.

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