Being the world’s first non-commodity-based sovereign wealth fund, GIC represents everything bold, dynamic, and progressive. Established in 1981, GIC works to secure Singapore’s financial future by investing for the long term. This is to preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of Singapore’s reserves, which are an important resource for our future.
Having to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves effectively, GIC recognises the importance of empowering individuals so as to create a collaborative environment where growth can take place. The GIC Scholarship is an avenue for passionate and committed individuals like Kaushik Venkataraman, 26—who works as an analyst in GIC’s Systematic Investment Group (SIG)—to develop their skills, fulfil their full potential, and contribute to shaping the nation’s future. We catch up with Kaushik on what working at GIC has been like, and what he has gained from the scholarship.
What do you find most fulfilling about working with GIC?
GIC offers an attractive set of features that one would want in their daily job – intellectual challenge, freedom of exploration, and the opportunity to create tangible impact. Intellectual challenge comes from the fact that the work involves solving hard problems in a challenging environment. Generating steady long-term returns in the global financial markets, which are subject to the actions of an extremely large number of participants, requires me to separate the signal from the noise by implementing innovative investment ideas.
These solutions cannot materialise without the freedom to explore, where GIC’s global network allows me to interact with and learn from almost every key player in the market (e.g. companies, banks, funds). And finally, it is this quest that provides meaning, because I know my work can contribute towards the larger purpose, that is, to benefit Singapore. With the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) supplementing the annual Budget, work at GIC can go a significant way towards improving the lives of Singaporeans.
Bachelor of Science – Cornell University, USA
Master of Science – University of Oxford, UK
Where does your passion lie and how does GIC help develop and nurture it?
Professionally, my biggest interests lie in two areas: technology and finance. Modern technology has the potential to solve many previously unsolvable problems, and keeping abreast with the newest discoveries and methods is the key to harvesting its potential. With the deluge of data out there, new tools in machine learning and artificial intelligence become more powerful every day. GIC is committed to enhancing our current expertise by providing access to academic and industry expertise, opportunities to develop skills, and resources to implement cutting-edge methods. I am also able to interact with many like-minded people with whom I can exchange ideas.
The magic lies in the fact that my work at GIC marries my passions. I can translate my interest in technology to solve problems in the financial markets. Where previously work would involve an arduous process of manually combing through economic and financial data, I am able to design machines that both speed up the process and generate new insights for investment. GIC places a strong emphasis on multi-disciplinary work and collaboration among teams with different skill sets. In this way, I can combine both the science of technology and the art of investing to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.
I am also interested in sports, and I am a part of GIC’s dragon boating team, having participated in the Singapore River Regatta. In this regard, I have a holistic way to develop my interests outside of my main professional role.
How have you benefitted from the scholarship?
During my days in university, the GIC team provided advice on suitable courses to take and opportunities to gain experience during vacations. For example, I did an internship in a bank in New York, which gave me a new perspective on the financial industry. Before joining my current department, the scholarship gave me the opportunity to experience roles in various parts of the company, and sometimes even in other countries.
Apart from interning with GIC at the end of my third year in university, I completed three 10-week rotations in different departments during my first eight months as a full-time investment professional. These departments were varied, ranging from Economics and Investment Strategy, to the Global Trading Unit, to Private Equity in our Mumbai office. The last of these was especially eye-opening, as it provided the fresh perspective of working in an emerging market.
The biggest benefit, however, is the breadth of relationships I was able to form with colleagues across all levels. The scholarship gave me access to engage and learn from many investment professionals. At the same time, it provided a strong peer group of like-minded scholars with varied interests. This entire network is an amazing source of advice and experiences.
How has the GIC scholarship given you the necessary tools to shape Singapore’s future?
The GIC scholarship has provided me with a platform to develop my technical and non-technical skills, and to learn from experts both within and outside of the organisation. I have been able to apply this valuable experience to innovating new investment ideas, and contribute to teams that are working to preserve and enhance Singapore’s reserves for the long term.
With GIC, I am also at the forefront of investment technology, which is fast becoming a necessary capability for the industry. I am learning and working in the organisation’s larger effort to leverage technology effectively in order to invest in an uncertain and competitive world.