22 November 2019: Specialised economics courses at Yale-NUS College taught by industry experts

By Lim Wei Da

Yale-NUS students in the Early Stage Private Equity Investing course, taught by Professor Michael Schmertzler via video conferencing. Image provided by Julian Chong (Class of 2021).

At Yale-NUS College, students who are interested in economics can choose to take applied courses taught by industry experts.

One such module is Early Stage Private Equity Investing, which is taught by Professor Michael Schmertzler. Prof Schmertzler is currently the Chairman of a public biotechnology company and also an adjunct professor based at Yale University. With over 20 years of experience in the finance sector, Prof Schmertzler hopes to impart his knowledge, and industry and leadership experience to his students.

Prof Schmertzler first taught at Yale-NUS in 2017 and 2018 as a visiting professor. After a very enjoyable interaction with Yale-NUS students and a desire to build closer academic ties between Yale and Yale-NUS, he decided to offer a module via video conferencing for Yale-NUS students this August.

Prof Schmertzler explained that the course teaches basic notions of equity valuation such as the assessment, structuring, stewardship and realisation of equity value.

“The goal of the seminar is to equip students with a level of understanding and mastery of these topics sufficient for them to compete for and function effectively in entry level positions in venture capital and other investment funds,” said Prof Schmertzler.

Yale-NUS students have the privilege of tapping into Prof Schmertzler’s wealth of experiences in business and academia for their learning. In past semesters, Prof Schmertzler has also invited guest lecturers from the industry such as Mr Felix Momsen, Senior Vice President at GIC.

Mr Felix Momsen during a lecture. Image by Yasunari Watanabe/Yale-NUS College.

This August, Mr Momsen is teaching Investment Analysis & Economics at Yale-NUS in addition to his full-time job as a Senior Vice President at GIC.

At GIC, Mr Momsen has worked on portfolio management, trading, research, emerging markets, as well as several asset classes in GIC’s offices around the world. Two years ago, after he was invited by Prof Schmertzler to give a guest lecture on the US equity market to Yale-NUS students, Mr Momsen decided to take on the appointment as a visiting lecturer at the College.

“As an undergraduate student, you never know what is really used or relevant in the industry, and I want to contribute to the learning and growth of students at Yale-NUS by sharing my expertise in different positions. I hope to give my students a little head-start if they hope to pursue a career in the financial industry.”

Mr Momsen shared that through his classes, he hopes to impart an intuitive understanding of economic concepts beyond the textbook. As such, he utilises real market data and examples in his lectures for students to understand how economics and investment concepts are used in practice. He has also invited one of his colleagues at GIC, Mr Jin Yuen Yee, Deputy Chief Risk Officer, to give a guest lecture to benefit his students’ learning.

Mr Jin Yuen Yee, Deputy Chief Risk Officer at GIC, giving a guest lecture. Image by Yasunari Watanabe/Yale-NUS College.

Michelle Chan (Class of 2021), who took the modules taught by Prof Schmertzler and Mr Momsen, shared that she has learnt a lot about the financial industry from both modules.

“As both Prof Schmertzler and Mr Momsen have experience in the industry, their classes always include fascinating market discussions, industry insights, and case studies based on real life application. For instance, many students in Prof Schmertzler’s class have no finance background but he was very patient in teaching us the basics of financial modelling – a crucial skill in the industry. I am also thankful for how Mr Momsen often goes beyond his role as a lecturer and offers us advice on navigating the professional world.”

Head of Studies for Economics Associate Professor Eugene Choo shared that there has been an ongoing effort by the Economics faculty members to bring in more applied courses that are taught by industry experts.

“Students in economics have varied interests and objectives – some are interested in technical skills, in investing and consulting, in policy and social interventions.  We help students to develop the tool kit that they can use to pursue different areas – be it financial markets, consulting, social impact, or research – after graduation.”