The future is bright for selection school graduates

The future is bright for selection school graduates

Optiver employee and former mathematics Olympian, Sen Lin, shared his experiences with students at the recent selection schools for the international mathematics and informatics Olympiads.

As far back as Sen Lin can remember, he was always ‘pretty solid at maths’. The mathematics that he did at school felt routine and easy, but something in Sen changed when he first encountered the Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad.

‘This was a lot of firsts for me’, Sen (pictured above) explained to a room full of students attending the selection schools for the international Olympiads. His talk was part of a presentation ceremony hosted by Optiver, a new sponsor of the AMT’s Olympiad programs, on the evening of Tuesday 12 April.

‘It was the first time I used mod bash to solve some number theory problems. It was the first time I used more than one line in a geometric proof. It was the first time I really felt passionate about something.’

Over three years, Sen attended a series of 10-day intensive Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee (AMOC) Schools of Excellence and Selection Schools, known informally by students as ‘camps’.

‘Camp after camp, I picked up more and more tricks before eventually being selected for the International Mathematical Olympiad in 2007. It was a dream come true to represent Australia doing something I really enjoyed.’

The experience served Sen well, as he went on to study pure mathematics and actuarial studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and was keen to pursue a career drawing on his mathematics skills.

‘I wanted a fast-paced career that would allow me to use those mathematical skills and concepts I had learnt through my years at the camps and apply them to real-world complex problems’, Sen explained. ‘I discovered a derivative trading firm called Optiver, and heard about the cool problems they were solving using maths. It sounded exactly like what I wanted to do.’

Optiver is one of the biggest market makers of financial products in the Asia-Pacific region, offering trading opportunities on major global financial markets using their own capital at their own risk.

Sen described his job at Optiver as a ‘never-ending computer game where you are constantly striving to get to the next level’. ‘The work environment is dynamic—the same solution doesn’t work forever as competitors adapt their strategies in response to your changes. The problems are non-stop and continuously challenging. The high rate of change is exciting to me and something I want to experience in my day-to-day job.’

Other Optiver employees Sampson Wong and Paul Cheung (former mathematics Olympians) and Daniel Berger (former informatics Olympian) also attended the event to speak to students about their experiences. It’s clear the skills obtained at camp are highly valuable in the workforce.

Following the talks by Sen, Sampson, Paul and Daniel, Optiver Grad Talent Scout People Leader Martina Carr and AMT Executive Director Mike Clapper presented students from both selection schools with certificates of attendance and Olympiad program t-shirts designed by Optiver.

On Wednesday 20 April, after the completion of both selection schools, Optiver arranged a half-day Mentoring Leadership Program for our Olympiad tutors. This session focused on ‘brilliant mentoring’ and was facilitated by Optiver’s Head of Education, Peter Leong, and Talent, Learning and Growth Leader Megan Bennett. The program enabled these students to step back from the day-to-day activities of the selection schools to learn some tips and techniques to help them get the most out of their mentoring interactions. The session was split into two parts. The first session covered how to use adult learning principles to deliver more engaging training whereby recipients would more likely retain the new knowledge. The second session highlighted the latest research about the brain and discussed how to apply this knowledge to help students perform at their peak. We thank Optiver for providing this excellent program to our Olympiad tutors.