Second Big Win for Baruch
April 3, 2007–Konstantinos Tsahas is not exactly typical of the students enrolled in Baruch College’s elite Masters program in Financial Engineering. For one thing, Konstantinos, known as â€œGus,â€ is not looking to land a high paying position in finance with Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, or Citigroup. Been there, done that.
Gus once worked for a major finance firm. These days he is a contractor and the owner-manager of a company that specializes in technical construction. He’s also an independent spirit. “I’m not interested in working for anyone,” he says flatly. His company, Tarsis Electronic, based in Long Island City, installs computer wiring, TV studios and science labs in schools and other facilities. For Gus, investing in the markets is strictly an avocation. But evidently it’s one he’s pretty good at.
This month, to the delight of Gus, his fellow students, and most especially Professor Dan Stefanica, who directs the Masters in Financial Engineering program, Gus took home the $50,000 second-place prize in the Interactive Brokers Collegiate Trading Olympiad, an investment competition where entrants seek to maximize a hypothetical $100,000 over an 8-week period by buying and selling stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. In order to do this, students have to use their own programming skills to create automated trading algorithms. Gus Tsahas made $160,000 “in an environment where the S&P was flat.” Amazingly, despite hundreds of entrants, this is the second time in as many years that a Baruch student has placed second. Last year’s second place winner was Bharath Govindarajan, also in Baruch’s Masters in Financial Engineering program. And, icing on the cake: Hieu Nguyen, another Baruch FE student, placed 17th in this year’s competition.
Despite his success, Tsahas advises amateur traders to be cautious. “If you’re a retail trader, it will take you three to five years to be any good,” he says, “Just like any other profession, there’s a learning curve.” Gus enrolled in Baruch’s MFE program to sharpen his investment skills and keep up his competitive edge. “It’s a tough program,” he says, “but very rewarding. The things you learn, you can’t just pick up on your own.” In May, when Gus completes the program, he will have earned his third master’s degree. (The other two are in electrical engineering and management.) The MFE program, he says, is made up of three elements: programming, mathematics and financeâ€”a wonderful challenge for anyone with strong analytic skills.
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