Vince Kott is a former golf pro and had a good job as a broker and trader in Canada, but he took the bold step of enrolling on the Finance MBA at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF)
as a stepping stone to a career in China..
Vince played golf professionally in Canada from 2003 to 2008, competing in several Canadian grand slams but retired to focus on a career in finance. His first visit to Hong Kong was in 2008 after he had just completed his Bachelors in Finance and Economics from Concordia University.
He tried to get a job there but the combination of timing, and having just a Bachelor's degree with litle work experience was not in his favour. He returned to Canada and worked as a proprietary trader and a trading analyst with Canadian broker Golden Market Management but couldn't forget about China!
We caught up with Vince to find out if he thinks he will have better luck this time. It was a Monday morning and we asked him how he had spent his weekend. He told us he had classes on Saturday. He seemed surprisingly perky about it and told us that they were “light classes”. Overall, he said, with three days of classes each week he had just the right amount of free time. This is not to say that the classes are easy over at SAIF, because they are not. It just means that someone is extremely enthusiastic about being a student again.
Vince decided to do the SAIF MBA because he had too much experience to go for a Masters in finance. But he wanted a degree that would offer a special focus on finance as well as open doors to other opportunities that might crop up in non-finance related areas.
Out of all the schools Vince considered, SAIF appealed to him the most. He said, "SAIF has internationally reowned professors, great buildings, and impressive learning technology. Even though the school is very young, you can tell its reputation is going to grow in a few years."
Vince only joined SAIF at the end of August this year but he's settled in well and the academic year seems to be shaping up nicely. SAIF’s international team were very helpful with the transition; giving new students a tour of the city and being on hand to answer questions about settling in.
So far at SAIF, Vince already got elected to the Class Committee. Alongside a few other students, he also runs a fitness club with 29 members.
Vince has attended a few campus recruitment sessions with investment banks and is looking forward to attending some of SAIF's Finance Forums
where people like investment guru Larry Williams and the ex-Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board Paul Volcker have spoken in the past.
We asked Vince if it was relatively easy to live in Shanghai and he said yes. Taxis and the metro work well and there is even a service that lets you text the address you're going to in English and they send you the reply in Chinese!
As for playing golf, that is a bit of a luxury for a student. There are only a few good golf courses in Shanghai and he's found that you either need to be a member or to book through a travel agents at double the price. To become a member of a course, you have to be invited.
Vince is also taking Mandarin lessons offered by the school and is hopeful of reaching a good proficiency level by the end of his programme.
He has plans to take advantage of SAIF's Career's Services to get a summer internship in Hong Kong and also hopes to be selected for an exchange programme with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In December, he'll be running the half marathon with his fitness club and the Great Wall Marathon, an annual race along and around sections of the Great Wall of China, in May!