Hsuan is from Taiwan where she studied at National Taiwan University for her Master and Bachelor degrees in Finance. She joined Imperial College Business School in 2013. Her PhD study has been jointly funded by Imperial College President’s PhD Scholarship and a Taiwan government scholarship.
Studying the Doctoral programme
Why did you decide to study the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School and what makes this programme unique?
I have a strong sense of curiosity to learn how the human society functions, especially in the economic aspect. Together with the development of technology, our economy has grown far more complicated than we could have imagined decades ago. I believe a better understanding of our economy is the first step to prevent the next economic crisis. Like the approach implemented in natural science, we can think about how to deal with the problem once we know what we are dealing with.
Imperial College Business School has a world-class faculty I can work with and more importantly, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with some brilliant minds from all over the world, such as seminar speakers, visiting scholars, and so on. The research environment is rigorous and free in which PhD students can bring in our new ideas and develop them into research projects under the supervision of faculty member.
What aspect of the Doctoral programme has been most rewarding so far?
The accessibility to a number of events organised by the Business School and Brevan Howard Centre has been a great contributor to shape my research agenda. It is common that PhD students have to speak with people other than their advisors while exploring research interests. I have participated in seminars and conferences with numerous topics since I first joined the Doctoral programme years ago. The experiences of exchanging ideas are invaluable during participation in these meetings. Both positive and negative feedback obtained from these experiences is useful at every stage of my research. Besides, I have made a couple of good friends too.
What aspects of the Doctoral programme have been the most challenging?
As a PhD student, it is common to have multiple roles. Most of the time I am a researcher, sometimes I am a learner, but some other time I need to be a teacher. The skill set and the personality required for each of these roles are not quite the same. It is challenging to balance my time between these different roles, and requires good time management skills. I found myself more productive when I have clear plans to achieve the objectives step by step.
Have you had any unexpected changes to the development of your research?
I decided to switch my research field during the second year of my study. It was very difficult because it was unexpected. Years later when I look back to this decision, I can appreciate my own courage to do so. The work I did prior to the change was not wasted. We cannot prevent unexpected events from happening during an inconvenient time. With time I have learned that possessing know-hows of multiple disciplines is helpful for producing research with impact to the real world. I came to understand that not all the ideas I have can eventually become publications, but they are all turning into foundations upon which I may build the next project.
Location: Living and studying in London
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I lived in Battersea during the first year of my study and then I moved to Chelsea in my second year. The neighbourhood is nice and convenient, allowing me to walk to the College within 30 minutes. Besides, both places are pretty close to Battersea Park, which I enjoy easily during my spare time.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
I moved to London directly from my home country. It has been a challenge to live far from my family in a totally different place. However, the benefits are that I get to know people from different cultures and that I enjoy the vivid cultural events in this metropolitan city. My life has been enriched and I feel happy about that. I would encourage anyone to walk out of their comfort zone, make new friends, embrace new interests, keep your mind open, and then enjoy life in a million other ways.
What can a weekend in London look like for a PhD student?
Many of us work without even knowing the holiday is coming. Not to mention the weekend! The bright side of being a PhD student is that sometimes there is flexibility in our timetable. Despite the fact that we always work over the weekend, from time to time, we could have a short escape from work during weekdays or weekends. London is a great place for those who want to try something new. For instance, I can enjoy the sunshine in Hyde Park, a matinee show in the West End, and much more.
Being part of the Business School community
How would you describe the community at Imperial College Business School?
The community is very dynamic in knowledge creation. At the research level, there are seminars in which we can learn from both external and internal speakers about their ongoing research. We also have student seminars where we present our findings, exchange ideas, and receive feedback to move on. At the teaching level, both lecturers and tutors are engaging the frontier research findings into our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. At the outreach level, the Brevan Howard Center regularly hosts public events such as forums, book launches, and talks about relevant and ongoing issues in the finance industry. The collaboration of these three levels makes sure the efficient and effective transmission of newly-generated knowledge into the real world.
Thinking to the future
What are your future career goals?
The advantage of studying for a Finance PhD is that we have freedom to choose our career among academia, industry, or regulation authority. Some people can even do a combination of the above. Personally, I aim to pursue an academic career. The ideal routine would be mostly research-based and some teaching. I believe the research and teaching would help each other to grow. Hopefully, I can make it work well throughout my academia career.