Alumni Spotlight

Victor Ng, Ph.D. ’89
Economists Shape Alum’s Interests and Career

By Lexi Killoren

While studying economics at UC San Diego, Victor Ng, Ph.D. ’89, had an unparalleled opportunity to work with two world-renowned professors: Michael Rothschild and Nobel laureate Robert Engle.

[Photo: Victor Ng]

Rothschild introduced Ng, who was initially interested in financial economics, to Engle and suggested that Ng use his academic prowess to “translate between Rob’s expertise and my economic and financial theory.” And that is exactly what Ng did. Ng worked closely with the two professors, who ultimately co-chaired his dissertation committee.

Engle attributes Ng to contributing to the growing literature of the ARCH (Autoregressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity) model that Engle designed, which helped him earn the Nobel Prize. Gradually, this area of analysis became an important component of what is now known as financial econometrics.

Public and Private Sectors

Now managing director, global head of corporate risk and chief risk architect of market risk management and analysis at Goldman Sachs, Ng never planned for a career in the private sector. He began his career as a finance professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. While on leave from Michigan as an economist at the International Monetary Fund, Ng received a call from Robert Litzenberger, then-director of the derivative research group at Goldman Sachs. Litzenberger asked if he would be interested in a position in Goldman Sachs’ fixed income research department because of his strong econometrics background. Litzenberger’s recruitment effort was successful and Ng joined Goldman Sachs in 1995.

At the time Ng joined Goldman Sachs, his department was very much like an academic circle, comprising ex-professors or professors on leave from some of the top universities in the nation such as Stanford, MIT, and the University of Chicago. “If we were a university department of finance, I think we would have been one of the top in the nation,” Ng said.

After spending a few years at the research department designing trading strategies, Ng was tapped to run the modeling efforts of the market risk department and eventually its corporate risk group. Ng and his staffers assess the capital needs of the firm, attribute capital to business units, and develop risk and capital methodologies that cover everything that Goldman Sachs trades in their business areas.

Advice to Students

Ng applauds the UC San Diego Department of Economics for its increased focus on preparing students for their professions. “I like what the department is doing – reaching out to alumni and helping students think about their future careers. This is very important,” Ng said.

When asked what advice he’d give to students, Ng shared, “Don’t be afraid to learn more. In my years at Goldman Sachs, the professionals who advanced were the ones who generated new ideas and brought something extra. You might not be as creative as Steve Jobs, but you can find that special ‘thing.’”

Ng also encourages the Department of Economics to make sure the good work from students and professors gets known. “Be sure to emphasize strengths. Organizations need experts and that adds a great deal of value.”

Campus Memories

UC San Diego also had a profound effect on Ng’s personal life. While on campus and frequenting the International Center, he met his future wife, Angelie Cheung ’89, who is an alumna of the university’s Department of Communication.

Ng also fondly recalls the beauty and relaxed atmosphere on campus. The Department of Economics had a courtyard, close to a great view of the ocean. This space promoted interactions between students and faculty, which is not something you see at all universities.

Ng is proud of his alma mater. He believes his academic training is on par with any other graduate from a top economics graduate program: “UCSD was a special experience.”