When an employee boomerangs back to a previous company, it speaks volumes about the merits of their former employer. Work had to have been going well during the person’s original stay, and there needs to be faith that their career will be on just as good a trajectory, if not better, upon returning. For Karan Ghai, trading group quantitative analyst at the investment firm PEAK6, that was exactly the case.
PEAK6 helps consumers and businesses manage their assets through their proprietary trading and risk management software. Ghai joined the company immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a quantitative data analyst, or “quant” for short. After spending two years there, he decided to further his education and enrolled at MIT to obtain a master of finance degree. He recently rejoined the company — with a highly sharpened set of skills — and shared his story about what motivated him to return to his former workplace.
What does the role of a trading group quantitative analyst entail?
My role consists of teaming up with experienced traders and software engineers to build models for the lifecycle of a trading strategy. That is, models for alpha generation, portfolio construction, optimal trading style and execution.
The role requires creativity, critical thinking, a fairly deep understanding of statistical methods and knowledge of option trading.
What prompted your decision to return to school? Then, what led to you returning to PEAK6 as opposed to going elsewhere after graduating?
Prior to returning to school, I was a quantitative data analyst here. My role required me to build analytical tools and models to tackle challenging problems in finance. Having only earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science, I was inclined to expand my domain knowledge in the field of finance and data science to be more effective in my role as a quant.
After earning a master of finance degree, I was ready to return to PEAK6. There were pretty much no other firms I considered joining. But I was split between joining PEAK6 or starting something of my own. I finally chose the former, and PEAK6’s entrepreneurial and meritocratic culture had a huge part to play in that.
I was inclined to expand my domain knowledge in the field of finance and data science to be more effective in my role.”
In your eyes, had anything changed at the company between the time you left and when you returned?
A lot had changed. I was pleasantly surprised at PEAK6’s adoption of cutting-edge technology amongst its trading teams. I was also glad to see all the core trading teams working closely with the technology and analytics teams to create better and more efficient strategies and risk management tools. They also did a great job with the office renovation which was underway when I left.
What’s the most exciting thing about being back at PEAK6?
There are so many things to be excited about — from innovative strides in trading technology to out-of-the-box analytical and risk management tools. There is so much to look forward to and I wake up excited to work every day.
What were the most important moments in your journey away from — and back to — PEAK6?
I really cherish all the close bonds I have formed during my time in school. I am really glad that I took some time off to expand my knowledge set and grow my professional network. I believe I have made the most of every opportunity that came my way.
This has only been possible because of the wonderful people at PEAK6 who have supported me ever since I joined them as a software engineer over three years ago. Be it my manager in the technology team or my manager in the analytics team — I believe everyone I have worked with at PEAK6 has helped me grow and are responsible for where I am today.
When was the moment you realized you made the right move to come back?
I knew I made the right move to come back the moment I entered the office for the first time after a year. Seeing drastic changes being implemented across trading teams and technology, and people working passionately to further enhance PEAK6’s systems, I was instilled with an ambitious energy. I was excited to contribute to the betterment of PEAK6 and knew I made the right choice.