Alex Rus (Northwestern 2010)

Sunt student la Northwestern de aproape 2 ani. Noua experienta educationala in Chicago, “orasul vanturilor”, a coincis cu o noua experienta sociala si culturala, intrucat nu vizitasem America niciodata inainte de a ajunge la facultate. Este un adevar usor observabil ca multi studenti internationali se integreaza greu in cultura campusului american; poate fi din cauza varstei, din cauza unor obiceiuri si perceptii deja formate la sfarsit de adolescenta, un fapt nu neaparat condamnabil. Eu personal incerc sa combin ce e mai bun din cele doua culturi din care fac parte, si anume energia si vigoarea culturii americane, cu conservatorismul si maturitatea culturii europene. Intotdeauna sunt anumite aspecte ale unei culturi straine care nu sunt asimilate usor, pentru ca “obiceiul e tiran”.

Cursurile solide de matematica si fizica din liceu au fost de mare folos in momentul in care am dezvoltat interese pentru alte arii academice precum finante sau economie generala. Pe langa cunostiintele “fizice” pe care le dobandesc de-a lungul timpului, cea mai importanta componenta a experientei mele educationale o reprezinta un set de “soft skills” precum lucrul in echipa, managementul timpului, etc. Tin minte ca in primele mele luni la facultate, am incercat (fara succes desigur!) sa ma implic in nenumarate activitati academice si non-academice, pana am remarcat, pe propria-mi piele, ce inseamna sa renunti la calitate pentru cantitate. In cele din urma, am decis sa ma concentrez sa fac putine lucruri, dar bine, dupa cum si Buffett a zis: “ce nu merita facut, nu merita facut bine.”

Inca din primul an la Northwestern, am colaborat cu profesori din scoala de management (Kellogg) in proiecte de research ce au acoperit diferite teme, de la legislatie financiara, strategie de operatiuni si licitatii in oferte publice de actiuni. Sarcinile mele au variat de la analiza si management de date pana la review si structurare a unui manual de MBA. In afara de activitatea de research, am fost onorat sa reprezint facultatea la un concurs de politica monetara, unde impreuna cu alti 4 colegi am prezentat analize si perspective proprii asupra economiei americane si am inaintat o propunere de actiune monetara unei echipe de cercetatori ai bancii nationale americana. Am castigat runda din Chicago si am prins un loc trei la runda nationala, si sunt sigur ca vom face macar la fel de bine si anul viitor.

Experienta mea la Northwestern este foarte interesanta din multe puncte de vedere. Nu este o experienta care mi-a schimbat viata in sensul strict al cuvantului, dar este o experienta care m-a ajutat sa imi valorific punctele forte si sa imi limitez slabiciunile. Mai mult, pe langa cunostiintele variate si stimulante pe care le dobandesc, am marele avantaj de a intalni constant oameni interesanti si dinamici. Desigur, sunt multe alte lucruri interesante pe care nu le-am atins in acest scurt paragraf; cu mare placere pot impartasi mai multe oricui interesat. Adresa mea de e-mail este rus (la) u (punct) northwestern (punct) edu.

I have been a student at Northwestern University for almost 2 years now. When I first arrived in the windy city of Chicago it was also my first time in the US, and hence the new educational experience was complemented by a new social and cultural experience. It is an empirical truth that foreign students integrate extremely hard in the American campus culture and I believe it is not a thing to blame for. I myself am trying to get the best out of the two cultures I have been exposed to, meaning the energy and youthfulness of the American culture, but also the classiness and the life-as-an-art of the European culture. There are certain features and needs of my inner structure that do not match perfectly with any given foreign society; as you have guessed, the habit is tyrant.

The solid mathematical background acquired in highschool was a definite plus in tackling new interesting academic interests such as finance and general economics. Beyond the “physical” knowledge I have been amassing along the time, I believe that the most important component of my educational experience so far has been to attain a set of “soft” skills that include work ethics and discipline, team collaboration and time management. I remember that initially I helplessly tried to get involved in a multitude of academic and non-academic activities, but I soon acknowledged the trade-off between quality and quantity and ultimately I decided to only focus on doing only a few things, but doing them well. Just as Buffett once said, “what is not worth doing, is not worth doing well”.

Since my freshman year, I engaged in research projects with faculty in the Kellogg School of Management in areas that included financial regulation, operations strategy and IPO auctions. My tasks varied from data management and analysis to review, structuring and economic insights contribution to a MBA textbook. Beyond the research-oriented commitments, another activity I am especially fond of was to represent Northwestern at the Federal Reserve Challenge, where I together with four other colleagues presented our view of the US economy and forwarded a monetary policy recommendation to a panel composed of Federal Reserve senior researchers. We placed first in the Chicago round and third in the National round and hope to surpass our performance next year.

Regarding my professional experience so far, last summer I worked as an analyst in the Syndicated Loans department within Commerzbank’s Debt Capital Markets group in Frankfurt. With the risk of sounding cliché-ic, I enjoyed the high level of responsibility I was assigned, as I was given the task of calling banks to join our loan syndicates and I participated in client negotiations from virtually week one on the job. In the future, my aspiration is to join an investment management firm, and at the moment I am equally attracted to either quant funds, value investing funds or private equity funds. Wherever I end up will most surely depend on the vibes I will get from my future co-workers and on the level of intellectual excitement generated by the particular job.

To conclude, I can honestly say that my experience at Northwestern has been extremely interesting so far from many points of view. It is not a life-changing experience in the strict sense of the meaning, but it is an experience that helped me so far to enhance my strengths and suppress my weaknesses. And beyond the diverse and intellectually stimulating knowledge I am acquiring, I also get to meet interesting and dynamic people at a constant rate. There are of course more things to be said beyond this short presentation paragraph, and I’d be happy to share my experience at Northwestern with anyone interested; my contact e-mail is rus at u dot northwestern dot edu.

Alex Rus