How I broke into Goldman Sachs with 2.5 GPA from PolyU Logistics


He almost got kicked out of university because his GPA was as low as 1.5 in the first semester. He almost couldn’t graduate in time because he had failed accounting 5 times. He failed all 40 job applications when he graduated. Today he works in Goldman Sachs, a company that many would kill to get that brand name on their CV. Want to know how this happen? Here is a quick view on his professional career path.

  • Jun 2007

    Graduated from high school as a Liberal Art Student

    • Went on with Logistics in PolyU 
    • Made better score but was rejected again by CUHK again
    • Failed in the first attempt; repeated in Form 7
    • Applied to study Chinese at CUHK but was rejected
    • Had no idea what he wanted to do in life
  • Jun 2010

    Graduated with a BA in Logistics, PolyU

    • Failed accounting 5 times
    • Convinced the Dean that he has made improvement from GPA 1.5 to 1.7
    • Received 2nd warning letter due to a low GPA (1.7)
    • Received 1st warning letter due to a low GPA (1.5)
  • Sep 2010

    Joined a Japanese Shipping Company

    • Got introduced to a Japanese Shipping Company
    • Applied to study Master of Industrial Logistics System at PolyU to hedge the risk of umemployment
    • Got rejected from all 40 applications
  • Oct 2011

    Joined a Big 4 Advisory

    • Worked his ass off for his second Master in Statistics at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
    • Conducted information interview on his friend to understand the language and job nature
    • Saw a friend’s post on his Facebook about a job opening in Big 4 Advisory
  • Jun 2012

    Got 1st Master in Logistics at PolyU

  • Jun 2013

    Got 2nd Master in Statistics at CUHK

  • Dec 2013

    Joined Risk Team in Goldman Sachs

    • Got an offer after 8 rounds of interview in the form of 1-on-1 phone interview, face interview, and video conference with New York and London offices
      • Questions on education and career Choices
      • Questions on experience written on CV
      • Questions on brain teasers, e.g. how do you hedge 100 options
    • Saw Goldman Sachs’ job ad on LinkedIn and applied
  • 2015

    Made Associate at Goldman Sachs


Key Takeaways

#1. Be strategic in reaching your goals – take babysteps

“I know I want to work for a bank” DW said. But he knows he would be hard for him with his education. So instead of a big jump, he took the babystep approach. He figured CUHK would probably not take him if he applied directly after he graduated from PolyU. So, he decided to get a Master first from PolyU. “It’s a lot easier once you have a Master”. It’s the same in getting a good job. Sometimes you can’t jump to a 7-foot-bar, it’s a lot more helpful to look for a one-foot-bar and jump on it first. 

#2. Be prepared – do your homework

“Honestly, I don’t think I can give any advice to students. A lot of this is just luck.” DW was embarrassed when I asked him what other advice he would share with young professionals.  “I saw this from my friend’s Facebook saying his team didn’t hire enough headcounts because some students didn’t take their offers. I was just really lucky” DW recounted how he moved from a Shipping company to a Big 4 Advisory. I interrupted him, saying when luck comes, you still have to be prepared for it. And you didn’t let it slip. DW nods and says “But the interview was a lot harder than I thought. I am glad that I asked my friend about what they do, how they do and call things. And I prepared my interviews.”  

#3.  Network with a long term mindset

“And it’s also important that you associate with positive people because they are the ones that share the information that will help you. It’s also important to build your network. I’m talking about the kind of networking where you don’t ask anything from people.” DW says and sips another coffee. “It’s helpful for me to form the big picture about the market: what is going on, what people do, and what they like or don’t like about their jobs. That’s helpful enough.”  

#4.  Don’t waste time on certificates

“A lot of people who study for professional certificates don’t even know why they need it; they get it because that’s what everybody is doing.” “When I look at my MDs (Managing Directors) in GS, none of them has any certificates. There are things way more important – communication skills, leadership, etc. It’s one of the things that overseas students or ABCs tend to do better than their local peers.” “I mean for examples, it takes a local to spend days to prepare a presentation, whereas the ABCs just spend hours and can do it better.” “Sometime I see a local VP get stuck in the same position for 15 years and another VP that gets promoted to MD in just 3 years. And you will see that it’s not the certificate, MBA, or anything you can see that makes a difference. It is the things that you can’t see that make the difference.

Insider Tips: And you will see that it’s not the certificate, MBA, or anything you can see that makes a difference. It is the things that you can’t see that makes the difference.

#5. Don’t waste time on studying / buying stocks

“I lost HKD 100,000 – all my savings from college, the money that I made from tutoring in a market crash”. DW thought the stock market would make him some money. “After seeing how these guys (at Goldman Sachs) make money, you won’t be interested in stock market anymore. I see how they use systems and technology to beat the market. You just won’t beat them in their own games.” 

#6. Learn how to play the money game and not be played by it

As we stepped into the coffee shop, he shared the recent IPO movements. “Their stock went from $0.05 to $0.45 in one day, $5 in two weeks. And just when everyone thought they would money from that stock – the price dropped to $1.” Truth is people who actually own the company actually don’t even care about their stock price. Just their default IPO price is worth billions of dollars.” “I’m just not interested in being a sucker anymore”.

Insider Tips: Rich people don’t make their fortune from stock market. They just use the stock market for liquidity. In simple English: Stock market is like their ATM, except that the money comes from your hard earned money. 

Source: CareeTipsHK; Image Credit: Unsplash; Image Effect Credit: Pixlr



I hope this article is helpful for you. I personally love this story because DW had a pretty tough time in early days. But that didn’t stop him from trying. He didn’t give up. He kept on trying. He kept on learning. He prepares for it. That, to me, is the spirit of Hong Kong.  

I personally hope you, who are reading this now, will soon tell me your story. 

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