Biz Alumni 11 April 2016

PhD Alumni, now trader extraordinaire

Jane Street Capital came into prominence in August last year – this is how the New York Times (NYT) describes it: “These dangers were brought home last August, when markets were rattled by China’s decision to devalue its currency; some of the largest E.T.F.s sank by 50 percent or more… a bunch of Harvard Ph.D.s , swung into action with a wave of buy orders. By the end of the day, the E.T.F. shares had retraced their sharp falls.”

In the same article, NYT also describes being able to land a job at Jane Street as nothing short of remarkable: “Jane Street has acquired a reputation for being perhaps the toughest interview in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street. This is in part because the firm hires only a handful of new employees each year. To survive, candidates have to ace brain-twisting math riddles and game theory tests.”

wang tao flowersNUS Business School alumnus Wang Tao is one of the lucky few. We caught up with Wang Tao who after obtaining his double degree in Applied Maths and Economics at Peking University, did his PhD at the Business School, graduating in 2013. Of those years, he says:

I spent 5 years in Singapore/NUB B-school for my PhD in finance under the supervision of Professor Jin-Chuan Duan.  During that period, I was trained to be an academic researcher on finance through courses, workshops, conferences and a lot of research projects. I finished a number of academic papers either by myself or through cooperation with my supervisor as well as other scholars.

I felt especially proud that a co-authored paper of mine was published in the Journal of Econometrics, a top tier economic journal, before I graduated from the PhD program. I also enjoyed my teaching experience in NUS B-school as I served as teaching assistant or tutor for a number of different bachelor/master level courses. 

Wang Tao’s work was making a difference even when he was a student. His mentor, Prof Duan says,

“Our joint work on forward-intensity corporate default prediction was published in Journal of Econometrics while he was still an NUS student, and that is fairly rare. This model has proven to be highly useful, because it powers the live corporate default prediction system maintained by the NUS Risk Management Institute’s Credit Research Initiative (CRI) team. The cutting-edge CRI system produces daily updated default predictions on over 60,000 exchange listed firms in over 110 countries, and has attracted users such as IMF, World Bank, among many others.”

After he graduated, Wang Tao joined Jane Street Capital, first at New York, then in Hong Kong. He remembers of his time in Singapore:

 I also made a lot of friends in Singapore which is a lifetime treasure to me. I met my wife in Singapore which filled my memory of Singapore with more joys.  A lot of my friends I hang out with in Hong Kong are NUS alumni. 

wang tao bullFollow the story of how Wang Tao is doing in this story which was published in New York Times at

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