It was not necessarily part of Martina Fuchs’ career plan to go to business school for a masters in finance degree. She is a journalist, after all, not a stock picker, banker or a research analyst.
But early on in her position as senior business correspondent for state-run CCTV in China, Ms Fuchs realised she needed to “broaden and deepen” her grasp of financial markets to do a better job reporting on the macroeconomic forces at play in Asia and around the world.
“Journalists touch on a lot of issues on the surface but we don’t often go deep into the subject matter,” says Ms Fuchs. “I had the vocabulary and I could make it sound like I knew what I was talking about in interviews but at times I struggled to understand how the macroeconomy works.”
Ms Fuchs, who conducts on-air interviews on a daily basis with chief executives, finance ministers, policy makers and bankers from around the world, occasionally felt her confidence waver. “I found myself wondering: if somebody were to turn the microphone around and ask me about GDP growth or the outlook for the consumer price index, would I be able to answer? I wasn’t sure.”
To remedy the problem, she enrolled in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology-NYU Stern Masters in Global Finance (MSGF) programme. Founded in 2007, the year-long programme was developed jointly by the two schools.
The programme targets fast-track finance professionals looking to become more efficient and competitive in their fields. (Indeed the vast majority of students work for banks or financial services companies.) Classes are held mostly once a month on the weekend and the curriculum, which involves modules in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and New York, is “a blend of perspectives from Wall Street and emerging markets”, according to Ms Fuchs.
The 48 members of this year’s graduating class, which includes Ms Fuchs, had, on average, at least a decade of work experience. They represented 11 different countries, with Hong Kong and the US making up the lion’s share of the cohort.
Ms Fuchs is the first to admit she does not fit the typical profile of the MSGF student. She grew up in Zürich and studied economic history in Geneva in preparation for what she thought would be her career in international relations. But after an internship with the Swiss government and another one with the UN, Ms Fuchs grew restless. “Government felt too slow. I wanted to combine my passions of travelling and communications,” she says. “So I went into journalism.”
After completing a year-long programme in TV journalism at the American University in Cairo, she joined Reuters in London as an international graduate trainee. She then worked as economics correspondent for the Gulf region based in Dubai, where she covered the fall of Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and political unrest in the Middle East.
She moved on to her current job at the state broadcaster in Beijing in 2012. Ms Fuchs, who covers Chinese economic news, is on-air each day at 4pm and 9pm and does a variety of breaking news stories and features.
Ms Fuchs graduated from the MSGF programme last month and already applies the knowledge she gained in her day-to-day work.
“Now I see how everything is linked. I don’t consider myself an expert but I now understand credit derivatives, the fixed-income market and initial public offering mechanisms,” she says.