Hyounsik Noh is currently pursuing his Masters of Science in Enterprise Risk Management at Columbia University in New York, New York. Hyounsik has spent the majority of his life in South Korea having moved to the United States to pursue a higher education in financial risk management.

As a graduate student at Columbia University, Hyounsik has been learning about risk quantification, risk modeling and practical ways of utilizing these strategies in modern day enterprises. Hyounsik has been able to apply his studies in numerous facets of his life including a stint of working for Seoul Metropolitan Police and his current role as a project manager for the Korean Graduate Student Association at Columbia University.

In his spare time, Hyounsik likes to hang out with his friends typically he will play badminton with them but when the weather and time allow it he loves to hit the waves on his surfboard. 

How did you get started in the field of risk management? What inspired you?

I have always been a meticulous planner. Even for a simple activity like going for dinner with my friends, I am the one who takes on the planning role. I recognize each friends’ constraints and availability, ensure that I pick a place or time that works for everyone and make it very clear if anything changes that they let me know.

I have translated this need for predictability into a career that focuses on seeing unexpected outcomes before they negatively impact your business. To me, the economy can be compared to a wild animal, with the ability to lash out and become extremely volatile and restless. I hope to tame this beast and have focused my studies at Columbia University on understanding these markets on a deeper level, hoping to gain a deeper knowledge of how investors can control the market and reduce its impact when it lashes out.

What do you see in the market that excites you about financial risk management?

I believe the whole concept of risk management is exciting. Limiting the financial risks while trying to move an enterprise forward is a fickle dichotomy where over investment or under investment could result in the loss of millions upon millions of dollars. I believe with all of the technology available in today’s markets risk management is becoming an integral part of any business’ plan for success.  Risk management influences many of the internal divisions of a business and can make or break a company’s ability to generate revenue.

The frameworks for risk mitigation exist but knowing which ones to use and when is the key to their success. There are many different risks that need to be considered by businesses today and being able to identify previously existing ones as well as new ones that might come up in the future is what separates the good and the great.

How do you challenge yourself to continually improve?

I am a firm believer that there is always more to learn. As someone who is so passionate about the financial industry, it has been easy to find new challenges to overcome and new problems to solve. I have been studying actuarial science since college and through my studies, I have gone above and beyond to listen to extra lectures, read suggested books from my professors, and read all of the articles I can on market conditions, trending topics, and the economy. I am in the process of attaining my Financial Risk Manager Certificate (FRM) to enhance my knowledge and further develop my understanding of the complex topics.

Are there any groups on campus that you are a part of or any events that you regularly attend?

I am very active on Columbia’s campus. Between studying and my actual classes, I try to attend weekly recreational badminton on campus. On top of this, I am also the current Project Manager for the Columbia University Korean Graduate Student Association (KGSA). As the Project Manager, I am responsible for scheduling events, budgeting resources and meeting the associations objectives.  The Columbia KGSA is responsible for promoting a better understanding of Korea and Korean culture while also nurturing a community of Koreans that have all had unique journeys to get to Columbia University.

During my time at Penn State, I was a member of the Actuarial Science Organization (PSASO) where I was responsible for analyzing the financial risks of case studies in which we would attempt to find the case firms most optimal solutions. As member, I also studied with students in actuarial science club, sharing experience, background knowledge and fostering a place where we could learn.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

I believe the toughest decision I have had to make recently would be the decision to commit to a specific risk-related field within the finance industry instead of the much bigger financial industry. It was a tough decision because I had to weigh the pros and cons of specifying my studies or remaining in my more general approach to the finance industry.

What advice would you share with students interested in studying ERM?

Enterprise risk management is not an easy program by any means. If you want to succeed in ERM it is important that you identify which areas, you want to focus on and really dig deep on finding out everything you can about that area. I found a passion in studying financial risk, which had made it easy to invest my time and energy in learning. At the same time, as much as I encourage you to focus on a specific area it is important to see what’s out there. Dabble in other forms of risk management such as environment, technology or human resources. All of these areas of focus offer interesting opportunities to grow and learn.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Thus far I would have to say my time at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department is one of my most satisfying moments. I had a massive responsibility there managing a budget of almost $2 million where I compiled monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports with precision, oversaw the pay of over 200 soldiers, and accounted for all of the expenses made by the department.

The experience of working as a treasurer at a national security base developed an immense responsibility and growth in me and provided me with the tools and know how to get into a prestigious Ivy League school in Columbia.  While working at the base I won the award for best administrative contribution for Base 202, an award that is only given once a year to a single individual who was seen to contribute the greatest efforts and results for a base.

What does the future hold for you? What are you most excited about?

I find it hard to predict the future, but I am optimistic about mine. I think that through hard work, preparation, good managing skills and the development of a playbook to respond to conflict are ways in which one can prepare themselves for the future. I like to apply some of what I have learned in my risk management studies when preparing for the future. The key is to be aware of problems that may arise and try to be proactive in overcoming those obstacles and challenges.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my studies is that it’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive. I hope to use my education alongside my experience to find a fruitful career, doing something I love. I think the economy is fluctuating every day, there is no way to predict what it will look like when I am done school and for me, that’s the exciting part.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your professional growth?

I recently went out for dinner with a really good friend of mine, we had been very busy with exams and so it was a nice way to get out of the library and sort of destress for the first time in a while. I picked up the bill, it might have only been $30 but I feel it was a time out that both of us really needed so that we could get back to work revitalized and with some new perspectives.

Do you have any podcasts you would suggest a person listen to in order to stay up to date on the current market risks and overall volatility?

I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts simply as I tend to listen to music while studying. A couple of the podcasts I am subscribed and try to listen to often are Planet Money and Bloomberg Benchmarks. Both offer really insightful perspectives on today’s markets as well as the policy that govern them, they are a great way to stay up to date and learn new information that I can apply to my studies.

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