Carlos Rincon on His Career in Finance and Teaching Experience
Carlos J. Rincon already had an eventful career before he ended up studying and teaching at HSE University-St Petersburg. The professor was born in Colombia and worked in his native country and the USA in the financial sector before starting his academic career. Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Carlos enrolled in the Master’s programme ‘Finance’ at HSE University-St Petersburg, where he has been studying and teaching since 2019. Read on to learn more about Prof. Rincon’s experience.
— Tell us about your education. Where and what did you study?
— I am originally from Colombia. I went to Externado University, one of the top three universities in Colombia in the field of economics. That is what I studied there. Later, I did my speciality in international business and capital markets. When I migrated to the USA, I studied financial planning and got a postgraduate certificate at New York University.
After that, I went to work. My career in the USA started at a telecommunication company. Then, I worked for two investment banks there. After the financial crisis, most of the banks in 2009 had to make drastic changes. So I was laid off—they cut a lot of employees. I was out of a job; that’s why I ended up going back to Colombia and started teaching. I was instructing for the Colombian stock exchange and then I began to teach for a college in 2012.
To get a promotion as a lecturer, I returned to studying. I did my Master’s in Economics at the Universidad De Los Andes in Colombia. After that, I came to study here. I did a master’s in finance in St Petersburg and here I am. Now I am a PhD student, so this is my second year of the PhD programme in Economics.
— What influenced your choice of field?
— When I was in high school, I always thought that I was going to study to be a pilot. My father is a pilot, so I was supposed to follow in his footsteps and go to flight school. But at school, they gave us various psychological tests. The results always showed that I should study economics or engineering. That is why I decided to try economics, and it worked out pretty well for me.
When I was in college doing my undergraduate degree, I was the assistant of a prominent economist in Colombia. So he brought me over to the Ministry of Finance, where I undertook an internship. Then I was hired by banks in Colombia. So I ended up doing economics all the time. I would say that my first internship made the decision much easier for me.
— How did you learn about HSE University?
— Firstly, I learned about it from the website ‘Study in Russia’. Secondly, I ran into my former student in Moscow when I visited Russia during the World Cup. They told me about HSE University's position in the Russian rankings in economics. So I was really curious to learn about HSE University. I did more research and found out that there were some interesting programmes. This is why I opted to study here.
— You decided to continue your education after a long period of work. How did you make this decision? Did you want to deepen your knowledge or get some new skills?
— I was going to get promoted to an associate position at my university in Colombia. At the same time, I was getting my Master’s in Economics at the Universidad De Los Andes. They allowed me to study here and accepted my credits for some courses I was not able to do there, such as ‘Econometrics’. So I graduated from both universities without taking the courses twice.
I liked the courses at HSE University as they were more finance-oriented than the courses in Colombia, which were more socially oriented. The Economics School in Colombia is famous for being a social-economics school. But my profile is mostly finance. It seems that in Colombia they draw a line between economics and finance. But for me, economics and finance are all mixed. This approach is adopted here at HSE University. The Master’s in Finance is economics-based, which fits my profile better.
— Do you remember the admissions process to HSE? Was it hard?
— It was difficult indeed, but I do remember that the person that was handling my case was very helpful. She made everything much easier for me. The coordinator explained everything and was very patient with me. I want to emphasise that she did a great job. So don’t be afraid: it sounds difficult, but it is much easier in reality.
— You have extensive teaching experience. Did you want to be a lecturer?
— It is not that I wanted to—I wasn’t pursuing a career in lecturing. But they kept offering me the work. I was hired in Colombia as the head of the training department. One of the things I would get contacted about was the issue of inflation expectations. I was one of the people who participated in a survey from different institutions about my expectations for the next month’s inflation rates. It is a very important issue for our business, for investments. Because of that, I was contacted by the Auto-regulation office to teach as an instructor for them and the stock exchange. I mostly worked for the stock market: I had to travel to different cities and deliver courses in stock market investments.
Since I was able to visit different universities, those universities contacted me to offer teaching courses for them. So I ended up working for three different universities. But it was too time-consuming for me, so I opted to stay in one university and that’s where I spent most of my teaching career.
— What skills or character traits are important to become a professional in the sphere of finance and economics?
— I would say that you should be open to change. Finance is a highly innovative discipline and a very evolving field: there are changes all the time. I would say if you can adjust to change quickly, then finance is great for you.
Besides, you should be curious, and highly curious to learn new things. That goes hand in hand with being open to change.
— Do you have any advice for students or graduates who are just starting their career path?
— Keep being highly enthusiastic. If you are very enthusiastic and do things in a very enthusiastic way, this is the key to your success. Generally, in finance and economics, we see a lot of rapid changes. With the pandemic, the market has changed. Then the stock market constantly changes as well: it goes down and down, then goes up again. Everybody gets frustrated or worried that the market is collapsing. But for us, it is a usual thing, so we react calmly: ‘Okay, this happens all the time’.
Every time there has been a crisis, I have been able to change markets because I adapt rapidly. So I would say I adapt easily. I am curious to see what else is out there. Curiosity and openness to change helps me to get through changes in my life. That’s what characterises me. ‘Let’s go and see how it works somewhere else’—this is my motto.
In December 2022, Prof. Rincon’s paper was chosen among 500 others to be presented at the annual World Finance and Banking Symposium in Miami. This conference gathers academics from top worldwide universities to present high-quality papers. We congratulate the professor on this amazing achievement!