A Dream Education at GS for a Dream Career in Finance
2023 Grad Profile: Shanzheng Ba ‘23GS on the rewards of building campus community and being open to innovative ideas.
Shanzheng Ba ‘23GS, a computer science-mathematics major and graduate of the Joint Bachelor’s Degree Program Between City University of Hong Kong and Columbia University, shares how GS has empowered him to reach long-cultivated professional goals in the finance industry.
Tell us about your path to GS!
Prior to joining the Joint Degree Program with the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), I majored in computational finance at CityU and dreamed of working on Wall Street. Coming to GS was a dream come true for me as I then had the chance to study in New York.
What has been your proudest accomplishment at Columbia?
I am the co-founder and the co-president of the Columbia Mandarin Debate Association (CMDA). In my role as co-president of CMDA, I have committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members, regardless of their background or experience. I have also worked to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups within the Mandarin debate community, and have encouraged members to engage in critical conversations around issues of race, class, gender, and culture. One of my greatest accomplishments as co-president was the Tri-Mandarin Debate Competition that CMDA hosted in collaboration with NYU and the Parsons School of Design. This event was the first of its kind at Columbia and even in North America, and it brought together a diverse group of Mandarin-speaking students to engage in lively and intellectually stimulating debates on current events and societal issues.
Additionally, as the co-president of the Columbia China Forum, I had the opportunity to lead the Finance Forum. One of the most challenging decisions I had to make during my tenure was to choose a relevant topic for the forum. The original plan was to invite guest speakers from Asia to join online to talk about "Investment in China." However, the Forum was moved to an offline mode and we could not afford to fly guest speakers from Asia to New York. To tackle this challenge, I engaged with the Asian pre-finance community at Columbia and sought their input on topics that would be interesting and relevant to them. That’s when I came across the idea of “Asian American Career Progression in Finance,” which was also insightful for Chinese students who wanted to pursue a career in America. We held a successful forum with distinguished speakers from J.P. Morgan, Two Sigma, and Morgan Stanley who shared how, as Asians, they broke the “bamboo ceiling.”
Leading this forum was a valuable learning experience for me resulting in an insightful event for the Asian community, and inspiring me to push forward in my finance career. It taught me that being a leader requires adaptability to address challenges as they arise, it showed me the importance of collaborating with others and seeking their input to create a better outcome, and it taught me the value of being open to new ideas and being willing to pivot from the original plan if it doesn’t fit the situation.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I will join Morgan Stanley's New York office in the ISG Rotational Program, spending 18 months in foreign exchange trading and 18 months in investment banking.
What advice would you give to a student who's about to start their GS journey?
Always be open to innovative ideas, and step out of your comfort zone.