Shan Chen, PhD

Manager, Enterprise Model Risk Management, Royal Bank of Canada

What interests and goals led you to graduate studies in economics?

Introductory economics taught me that economics is a study of how people behave and make decisions. Economic training provides powerful tools to understand and analyze various aspects of our lives and help us to make informed decisions. I was very interested in applying economic theory and quantitative methods to analyze various real-world problems. That’s why I chose to pursue graduate studies in economics to further develop my technical skills, and enhance my knowledge and understanding of economics to a deeper and broader level.

How has your graduate training in economics impacted your career path?

My current job is to vet and validate credit models in one of the Canadian banks. This job requires a lot of qualitative and quantitative analysis about the financial model/data, as well as various risks. I greatly benefit from the economic theory, the quantitative methods and the computing techniques learned and developed from the economics PhD program at UWaterloo.

What aspect of Waterloo’s economics graduate program did you find most useful in terms of your career?

I think the strong faculty team in the Econ department at the University of Waterloo really benefited me and my career. The knowledge and insights from tons of discussions with my professors about courses, research and future career goals really influenced me a lot. Now, for my job, I always think critically, try to get the big picture of the project, and still pay attention to the details. The quantitative methods and computing skills learned and developed from my PhD program are very essential for my work.

If you went on co-op how critical do you think it was for your career?

I did my co-op work terms at the end of my doctoral study. I found my co-op experience was very beneficial to my subsequent career. One of my primary research areas is financial economics. My co-op job was finance-related since I was interested in a career within a financial institution. I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge and skills to deal with real world problems. Through my co-op job, I gained valuable working experience, got great exposure to the financial market, and I had the opportunity to meet people and find out about job openings. My education combined with the co-op working experience led to my first full-time job offer.

Any other comments about the Department? Would you recommend Waterloo as a destination for graduate studies? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend Waterloo for PhD studies. It provided me  with a great environment to study. The faculty are very supportive and helpful. Since I work in industry, I can give one suggestion to students who want to find a job in industry. Networking is very important! People who have connections in the industry have a higher probability of getting an interview. The Department can also help students to make these kinds of connections. Waterloo is known in industry for having students who are, on average, very good on the job.

University of Waterloo