Students and Alumni Sharing
My time at HKUST has been eye-opening and rewarding. I had the great fortune to engage with professors enthusiastic about their work and made talented and inspiring friends.
Although university life has been disturbed because of the pandemic, it still had much to offer. One of the best decisions I made was to join the UROP program in my first summer. I joined a research team consisting of faculty members, research assistants and students in understanding the financial behaviour of Filipina domestic helpers. This allowed me to experience empirical research first-hand and expand my horizons on how economics can improve people’s lives.
(Class of 2022)
The Economics and Finance program (ECOF) to me is a place where you will find like-minded friends and good fun, ever-supportive faculty members and alumni, and dedicated resources. The relatively small cohort of ECOFers made up a close-knit family, and we enjoyed each other’s company in classes tailored for the Bachelor of Science programs, during events put together by our very own ECOFSC, on research trips organized by the faculty, etc. Whether I was navigating the maze of career options or contemplating further studies years after I graduated, our faculty members were always ready to offer their help and counsel and connect students across years via the vast alumni network. My amicable and supportive experience was complemented by rigorous training in academic subjects. This cultivated in me an interest towards macroeconomics and laid the foundation for my becoming an equity research analyst in industrials and the cyclical sectors later on.
(Class of 2012)
Economics is a subject about how to allocate resources in order to generate the best outcome. In Economics terms, we can define our future as the final product. Whether our future can be successful depends on what our inputs are. ECOF, in particular, is definitely a vigorous input that bridges your future.
First, ECOF offers various electives that satisfy students’ needs. To name a few, if you want to make policies in your investment, firms, and in your economy, econometrics courses can train both your soft skills(theories) and hard skills (computer programming); if you want to understand how the world is operating, macroeconomic courses help you understand how an economy grows from nothing to prosperity.
Second, ECOF allows you to enter a wide variety of industries in the future. We can find ECOF graduates in various industries including investment banking, government sector, and other business corporate. Some of them even decide to start their own business. ECOF helps student to always make the best decision, and this is applicable in all the industries in the globe.
(Class of 2015)
The UG program gave me a playground for me to discover my interest, strength and personality through all kinds of trial-and-error opportunities with very little cost even if I "fail". For example, participating in various student societies and projects allowed me to experience work of different nature, to test what I will genuinely like and dislike in a long-term career so as to decide what kind of job to apply for. Professors and senior graduates/ alumni in the program also supported by guiding me through numerous job applications by sharing interview tips and preparation experience. More, the Business School also provided work-oriented psychological tests to help me understand myself better from a fresh pair of eyes. This list could go on and on, but all these resources will only show up to you if you go in front of them.
(Class of 2015)
I think understanding Economics is like opening a gateway to understanding the society and how it works. This had given me insights and the ability on analyzing issues of different nature and under different context. I believe the skills would be relevant to any career, no matter be it finance, entrepreneurship, or in aviation like me.
The compact group of ECOF students and faculty members also mean a close relationship, and more supportive classmates and professors than you can think of. They have inspired me all the way through my studies and career planning.
(Class of 2015)
The undergraduate study in Economics Department of HKUST provides me both solid background knowledge and rich research experience in preparation for further studies. The designed curriculum is very comprehensive and the clear lecture delivery ensures teaching quality here. This makes sure we can do well in any division we are interested in during future studies. Moreover, the department also provides tons of research opportunities, such as being a research assistant and get involved in undergraduate research project, for us to get a taste of the academic work and find our interest. The welcoming atmosphere in the department allows us to reach any professor to discuss even the frontier research in the world.
(Class of 2016)
First of all, the core courses in economics are rigorous and provide solid groundwork for studies at the graduate level. Secondly, the vast selection of electives allow students to gain exposure to the many different fields in economics and explore their interests. At last, the program is structured in a way such that students may finish in time the coursework that are necessary for graduate school applications – namely additional mathematics courses and graduate level economics courses in the senior year of study.
The faculty members in the department are also very helpful and supportive. They are always available for guidance and are willing to assist students to their full capacity. In addition, they are able to provide students with plenty of research opportunities – through research assistantships, independent research supervision, and the UROP program – which are useful for further studies preparation.
(Class of 2017)
In retrospect, the ECOF program offers me a truly inspiring four-year undergraduate experience. ECOF has not only equipped me with solid quantitative and financial skills, but more importantly, the competence to learn quickly and analyze problems thoroughly. These skills prove to be tremendously helpful to my future career in investment banking and application for post-graduate studies.
ECOF is a warm and supportive community where you can always get inspiration and guidance from professors, academic advisors and the extensive alumni network. It gives you opportunities to explore different career and academic interests. I am very grateful to be part of the ECOF family.
(Class of 2017)
Ernest (people at UST used to call him "Kong Wah") graduated from the Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics program at UST in 1997. He spent a few years in the private sector in Hong Kong before pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. There, he met one of the current faculty at UST Econ, Prof. Wooyoung Lim. They had some drinks together, shared the same advisor, and have become a longtime collaborator. The other professor at UST now, Prof. Kam Wing Shiu a.k.a "Ah Wing," was two years ahead of him. A few years ago when Ernest was in town, the three of them went hiking in Sai Kung and had hotpot afterwards. Ernest took the opportunity to learn from them the secret of becoming serial 10 best lecturers, but then he realized that it is something innate and cannot be easily learned. Ernest served as an RA for Professor Francis Lui in his undergraduate years. They have become longtime friends and would go "yum cha" when they happen to be in the same town.
Ernest joined Lehigh University after graduating from Pitt in 2009. He recently received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor. He also recently became the undergraduate director of his department, which he is still figuring out whether it is a good or bad thing. His research interests are in game theory and experimental economics.
He suggests those who are interested in further study in economics to sharpen their mathematical skills as much as possible. For those who were not from the science stream in secondary school, don’t be afraid of math. It is just a language and, like every other language, takes time to learn. He received C+ in the two calculus courses he took at UST, but he eventually overcame his fear of math and ended up doing research in microeconomic theory. He also teaches the whole sequence of Ph.D. microeconomic theory at Lehigh, which would be beyond his imagination when he was an undergraduate at UST.
Ernest Kong Wah Lai
(Class of 1997)
Rachel graduated from BSc in Economics in HKUST and went to University of Pennsylvania to peruse her PhD degree. She started working in the London School of Economics since 2001 and is now Reader of the Department of Economics.
Rachel got her research ideas from daily life. She quoted how she came up with her initial research, as a high school tutor in Hong Kong, her salary was higher than a relative who was a MD in PRC then, then a bigger jump of US wages when she arrived there to study in the mid-90s. This remained in her mind for a long time, her PhD thesis, “Barriers and the Transition to Modern Growth” was a result of the life event observation above.
Her main research area is on economic growth and structural transformation, of how economic growth achieved in countries transformed from agricultural to manufactural and then service economy; about the difference of steady state of economies in different stage of growth, and relations of the growth rate of different countries according to their unique political situation, climate and adaption in innovation, eg. how late developer like PRC grow so fast.
Rachel sees herself very much as an applied macroeconomist, she is motivated by macroeconomic facts, she writes theory but is motivated by data, and conduct quantitative work to investigate if the theory she posted is relevant to explain the data. Her way to approach a question in research is to look at the facts. She thinks about the key reason, writes down a model, puts discipline on the model by using data, and checks if the model can predict something that is meaningful for the data.
Rachel is among the first batch of students who took PhD courses in her UG study. She did so in HKUST and University of Pennsylvania when she was an UG exchange student. She has given two seminar courses for postgraduate students in HKUST since 2011, so she is in a good position to compare student now and then. She found that students nowadays are more confident, proactive and take a more challenge position than to just accept what they are taught.
Rachel Li Wah Ngai
(Class of 1996)
Wing finished his BSc and MSc in Economics in HKUST and he got PhD from Boston University. Then he joined Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in both Atlanta and Beijing, and later PricewaterhouseCoopers in Beijing. In 2012, he came back to HKUST to start a career in education, he always says, “I was blessed to have received valuable knowledge, coach and advice in HKUST.”
He sees his goal as bringing life issues to the classroom and to share his learning and work experiences with students. He hopes that would help students to find their own way.
Wing believes that relevance and applicability is the core for education. He accentuates in his teaching a lot on the "purposes" of a concept or a theory in the analysis framework, and how these can give perspectives into certain real world phenomena and their potential application. He uses his experiences in the business world to contribute to business education in HKUST. Feedbacks from students showed that they like the applicability of knowledge in real situations.
His office door is always opened and students come to him with questions on study, major selection, further study, career, values of life and personal problems. He also meets students in official gathering and sharing sessions.
He links students up with his local or foreign connections; he served as advisor for two business case competitions and one team went to the final round in the KPMG Business Administration Paper 2013, the other to the semi-finalist in the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge 2013.
Wing was voted six times as one of the "Ten Best Lecturers in HKUST" since 2012. He was honored to be at the same prizes presentation ceremony with his former professors and carry on with the good work.
Kam Wing Siu
(Class of 1997)