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Kenny Chong, BEng '02

Software Engineering | Deriving a Future from Software Engineering

Some students arrive at McMaster with an unwavering vision of their future and leave on a firm career path.  But for many others, certainty is harder to find.

For those students, Kenny Chong offers reassurance and inspiration.

“Enjoy four or five years of making friends, enjoying the campus, and learning with a passion,” he says. “Don't worry about failure in study or career, and don't be afraid to get up and try again. That’s the spirit of engineering.”

Chong, who graduated from Software Engineering in 2002, and today is an equity derivatives trader and Executive Director of Haitong Securities International in Hong Kong found his dream career on a circuitous path.

Uninspired by the programming work he was doing when he graduated, Chong told himself and God that he would take three years to explore what he really wanted to do with his life and how he could best leverage his engineering degree.

It was an eclectic three years that included a short stint teaching English to children in China, a one-year gig working as a software engineer, and a stretch in the business department of an airline company because he wanted access to the office’s indoor swimming pool.

“Three years later, God really opened my eyes,” says Chong. “I realized that the Black-Scholes formula – a key concept in modern financial theory – could be derived from what I learned in Thermodynamics about solving the heat equation.”

“I ended up in equity derivatives trading, which required me to do a lot of quantitative programming – not at all boring.”

In 2007, Chong joined the infamous Lehman Brothers, just a year before the firm went bankrupt during the 2008 financial crisis.

“Initially, I was doing a lot of market-making and proprietary trading,” he says. “Now I oversee the whole derivatives department, which involves not only market-making and proprietary trading, but also helping clients meet their financial needs with a variety of products.”