From Golf to Global Finance: Ki-Shui Liao (Class of 2019) Reflects on Darden Experience
In front of London School of Economics: (Left to Right) Grant Bickwit, Ki-Shui Liao, Professor Yiorgos Allayannis, Martha Sentosa, Leon Fang
Ki-Shui Liao, originally from Hong Kong, came to Darden after seven years of playing professional golf after completing her undergraduate degree at Stanford University. At Darden, Ki served as the Darden Board Fellow for The First Tee of Virginia Blue Ridge nonprofit organization, and enjoys playing tennis and teaching her classmates to golf in her spare time. Ki recently returned from the Darden Global Topics Course in London, which focused on capital markets. She shared her thoughts and reflections in her own words:
Tell us a little bit about why you chose to enroll in the Global Topics Course to London?
At Darden, I discovered my passion for finance and investing. Coming from a nontraditional background and a Communication major in undergrad, I chose to enroll in the London course because I wanted to advance my knowledge in the financial sector and there is no better place to do that globally than in London. The Global Topics Course was the perfect opportunity to visit a cosmopolitan city with so much to see and eat while learning about capital markets at one of the world’s greatest financial hubs.
Have you completed any other global academic courses either at Darden or undergrad study abroad? How did the course to London compare?
During my first year at Darden, I went on the Global Immersion Course to Shanghai, China. My family moved from Hong Kong to the United States when I was young so I have always wanted to learn about doing business in China not only for personal reasons, but also given its explosive growth and large impact on the global market.
While both courses were extremely valuable through experiential learning, the Global Immersion Course in China had more cultural events incorporated into it. In addition to company visits, we went to a Chinese acrobat show, negotiated prices at a knock-off market, and enjoyed an authentic home-cooked meal in a village with local Chinese families. In London, it was much more academically intensive given the focus on capital markets. We had case discussions led by Professor Yiorgos at London School of Economics and guest speakers such as Darden alum Duygu Yenidoga-Schmidt (MBA ’02) come talk to us about the growth of fintech and digital banking at American Express.
As graduation approaches, how do you think you’ll apply what you learned in London (or Darden experience overall, if you prefer) to your career and life going forward?
After graduation, I will be moving to Philadelphia and joining Vanguard’s MBA Leadership Development Program. The London course expanded my strategic thinking skills through discussions of how leaders of organizations strategically plan to navigate political uncertainty to the best interest of all their stakeholders. For example, while Brexit could potentially lead to financial services firms in the UK losing single market access and passporting rights, how does Brexit present an opportunity to take advantage of growth in other financial centers and industries in neighboring countries?
In terms of Darden overall, the exposure to the different backgrounds of my classmates through class discussions, group projects, and social events is invaluable. As future leaders, we will face decisions that require us to think from the perspectives of different stakeholders. Learning from such a globally diverse group of classmates and going on these worldwide courses has enhanced my ability to relate to different people as well as analyze information from multiple perspectives before coming to a decision.
Any advice for current or prospective students considering which global academic opportunities to pursue as part of their MBA degree?
Think about what you want to get out of the global opportunity. Some students choose a course based on the desire to explore a new location and stretch the limits of their comfort zones, some for the academic focus on a subject area in an international setting, and some even based on which professor is leading the course. Given my nontraditional background before Darden, I thought it would be most practical for my career to immerse myself in finance as much as possible. But I also wanted to pick a location that would be convenient for traveling around Europe for Spring Break. I was able to visit Spain and Italy with classmates before the London course, and then we continued our adventures afterwards in France and Monaco.