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Advice from alumni: Victor Huang

Victor Huang, from China, was one of the first students to graduate from EF Academy Torbay in 2007. After studying Mathematics and Finance at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Reading, Victor went on to work in consulting, commercial finance and is now working in investment banking all across Asia. Learn more about our featured alum:

How did you hear about EF Academy and why did you choose to go to EF Academy?

I went to the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in China when I first heard of EF Academy through our international department. I wanted to go abroad and I thought that EF Academy was a great choice because I could go to the UK.

I became one of the first batches of students at the EF Academy campus in Torbay, which at that point only had about 30 to 40 students. I ended up spending two great years in Torbay, which marked the beginning of my six very important years in the UK. Honestly, to this day, I still get a very warm feeling when I think about EF Academy and Torbay. Compared to London, Torbay gave me sense of home and security.

What university did you go to afterwards? What did you study and why?

In 2007, I started studying Mathematics at Queen Mary because I loved mathematics. It was at Queen Mary that I started dreaming of pursuing a career in the financial industry. I would see the bankers going to work and think, “I want to become one of them!” That is why I decided to specialize in finance during my master studies at ICMA Centre at the University of Reading and during that time, I learned a lot about risk management, securities, etc.  It was a deliberate choice to stay in London, because I wanted to stay in a larger city with many different cultures.

What did you do after your university studies?

After my studies, I was drawn back to Asia and Shanghai because of the booming and dynamic market with many opportunities. I started working with the Nielsen Company; a global leader in delivering market research, information and analysis to the consumer products and service industries. However, I wanted a job with more client interaction and thus successfully applied to become a Graduate Trainee at GE Capital that only recruited three associates in 2012 in Greater China. I believe that my independence, maturity and solid quantitative background, as well as my English skills, from my time in the UK, was crucial in getting the job.

In 2014, I finished the graduate program and was offered a full-time position in Hong Kong with Structured Finance. After that, I started trying to transfer out from commercial finance into investment banking division.  This was much harder than I expected because investment banks are much more competitive and also require experience within the field. However, I did not want to give up and so I kept trying. Luckily, I had been offered a place at one of China’s top boutique investment banks. I have now been working in Beijing as an associate for over five months and I absolutely love it. In my daily job, I get to execute private placement and M&A transactions. I am so happy that I was persistent and never gave up on my goals.

Tips to current students that want to study what you studied?

  1. Understand your own skills and personal priorities; then choose the career that fits you: For example, working in banking and consulting is stressful and competitive. It is definitely not for everyone, depending what you want to get out of life. Thus, my advice is to take the time and figure out what you really want in long-term and then base your career choice on that. However, no panic! For me, it took tons of time before I finally figured out what I was good at and what I wanted to do.
  1. Work hard and get good grades: In the industries that I have worked for, people do recognize which university that you went to so it is worth putting in the extra effort to get into a well-known university.
  1. Be persistent and never give up: Remember that there is always a way to overcome challenges and find alternative ways to your goal. For example, I did not have the right experience from investment banking in the first place but I still made it to where I am today thanks to my hard work, persistence and my belief that you can always make it somehow.

Do you keep in touch with your EF Academy classmates?

Yes, definitely!  We are a bit spread out and many of us are doing really well, e.g. PhD at Wharton University, entrepreneurs and employees at world top 500 companies. Of course, people are very busy but we are like brothers and sisters so we can always reach out to each other.

What’s your favorite memory from EF Academy?

The feeling of being completely carefree and free. At Torbay, everyone was really good friends with everyone – we were like a family. We would cook together, go on different excursions and even cut each other’s hair. Those days will never come back.

What is one thing that you learned from EF Academy that you found valuable for university? For the work life? For your personal life?

My English skills! When I went to EF Academy, I did not understand what people were saying when they were talking in English. As people were so nice in Torbay, I quickly started to pick up the language. Being good at speaking, reading and writing English, was immensely helpful when I started at university and I could communicate freely with other classmates. When I started working, having good English skills was of course essential to being able to work in an international setting.

Short questions:

Name: Victor Huang

Age: 28

Nationality: Chinese

How many languages do you speak? English and Chinese

EF Academy campus: Torbay

Graduation years: 2007

Program: A-Levels (mathematics, further mathematics, economics)

Residence or host family: Host family – I had the best host mom and she really meant a lot to me.

Favorite subject: Mathematics

Favorite teacher: Hazel Linacre, my mathematics teacher. I am sure she will remember me always sitting in the front row.

Favorite club/society: The Music Club – I started liking Rock n’ Roll in Torbay. I played the guitar, rapped and even produced my own recordings.

Shouts outs to:

  • Debbie Chatterton – My IT teacher at that time
  • Hazel Linacre – My mathematics teacher

Every Friday will feature an EF Academy graduate who is on the way to accomplishing great things! You’ll read about former students’ experiences and a little bit about their university and career plans. Plus, you’ll get some pretty helpful tips on how to make the most out of your time at EF Academy!

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