Likhaya Fanga

Hometown and province: Grahamstown (Makanda) in Eastern Cape

Current Job: Market Risk-Quantitative Analyst at National Treasury

BSc Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
Honours Mathematical Statistics (Maths Stats)
P.Dip in Risk Management (Currently)  

What course do you find was the most useful in your undergraduate/Honours?
The course that was most useful in both my undergraduate and postgraduate was the Multivariate Analysis. In my postgraduate studies, Data Mining was the most relevant course as it covers in depth the processes of turning raw data into useful information. Which is key in the corporate world more so in the quantitative space.   

In what way does your qualification relate to your work, whether directly or indirectly?  
Mathematical Statistics or the study of mathematics and statistics in the context of market risk refers to the collection, presentation, analysis and the use of numerical data to infer and make decisions in the face of uncertainty. As such, the use of data mining processes which I learnt during my postgraduate studies play a significant role to the work I do as data plays a pivotal role in the Market Risk framework.  

What are your day-to-day activities?
My day-to-day activities include learning about the Market Risk environment and implementing quantitative models that answers policy and sovereign debt portfolio problems. These problems include market risk factors such as interest rate risk (the likelihood that interest rates would move in adverse direction and therefore result in financial losses or addition costs), inflation risk (the likelihood that the annual or monthly CPI inflation rate would move adversely) and currency risk (the risk that the spot or expected price of the exchange rate may negatively affect the financial portfolio). One has to monitor these market risk factors on daily basis and come up with mitigation strategies.  

What are the best and most challenging parts of your job/degree?
The best part about the job is that it gives you full exposure to financial modelling which is a direct application of what I studied (Maths Stats). For instance, when doing stress testing exercises for exchange rate or interest rate one applies heavy tailed distribution like a T-distribution again when modelling financial market prices one can use a positively skewed distribution like a log-normal.

The challenging part of it is when one has to simplify technical techniques to the audience that does not have a quantitative background, e.g. explaining Principal Component Analysis (PCA) or Explanatory Factor Analysis (EFCA) to an audience with no knowledge in Multivariate analysis.

How did your extra-curricular involvement while at Rhodes add value (transferable skills) to what you offer the world of work/your degree?
My time at Rhodes I was involved in various leadership roles one being an Academic Representative at Cory House. One had to organise a mentorship program for years and also do tutoring within the residence. That has taught one a lot about coaching skills.  Through that experience one is able to coach and help both Interns and CAA Trainees (that rotate to Market Risk), with the modelling work that is done within the unit.

Advice to current students:
How best should students use their time at university to give themselves a competitive edge in your field?

For an individual to have a competitive edge in the field of Financial Markets more so Market Risk, I would advise that they do courses that will give them exposure in financial markets be it its financial mathematics like Theory of Finance or Financial Statistics. If such courses are not offered, the student can read about  In addition learn at least one programming language such as R or Matlab.  During vacation they could apply for vacational work so that the student can have an "on the job training".

In retrospect, what advice can you give to students about how to approach their own career development journeys?
Career development in my view starts with having a purpose and setting a career goal. To add on that having a career mentor  can assist in terms of steering your career growth especially if it is someone who is already in the field you want to pursue. Lastly reading material that is related to your career path is key.  

Do you have any advice for a new graduate entering the world of work?
Attitude can build or break your career, being humble in all that you do in the workplace can take you far.  


Last Modified: Mon, 15 Apr 2019 11:55:50 SAST