University medallist finds formula for success
Mathematics plus ultimate frisbee equals a satisfying student experience
Mathematics was always Audi Li’s favourite subject, from primary school onwards. In high school, he was put into an accelerated class and ended up sitting his HSC mathematics exams a year early in Year 11.
So he always knew he wanted to do something with maths, but it wasn’t until he saw how it could be applied practically in the realm of finance that he knew how he would use it.
“Like a lot of kids in high school I thought, ‘why would I do a maths degree? What will I do with maths in the future?’ Something that came to mind was finance and business,” he said.
A Dean’s Scholar, Audi graduates this morning (Friday 16 December) as a Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance, and University Medallist.
“What I enjoy about maths is it’s all very logical and there’s always a right and a wrong,” Audi said.
“There’s no faffing about over what the answer could be, or what the answer could mean. What you’ve done is either correct or it’s not correct.
“And you can use mathematics to explain a lot of things. It underlies a lot of the world and it allows us to gain an understanding of natural phenomena. It makes it more comprehensible.”
It was the opportunity to do a combined mathematics and finance degree that brought Audi to the University of Wollongong (UOW).
“UOW is one of the only universities to have a specific Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance degree,” Audi said.
“That combination really appealed to me because it allowed me to keep doing mathematics but it had a real-world application as well.
“In finance, a lot of the theories and things are mathematically derived anyway. Some of the finance is more theoretical than the maths, but it still makes sense.
“The official major in my degree is ‘Quantitative Corporate Finance and Investments’ - the main focus is on finance and mathematical modelling - but the nice thing is I’ve studied a whole lot of different areas. I’ve done accounting, economics, finance; and within maths I’ve done mathematics, statistics, programming - so a lot of different areas.”
While he is looking forward to the next stage of his life, Audi said he would miss the UOW lifestyle.
“After four years of studying I’m happy to be done, although I can tell that I’ll miss university,” he said. “Being able to work and study at the same time, and to hang out with friends all the time is what I’ll miss most.
Audi said that being active in sporting clubs - he’s a member of UOW Badminton Club and the UOW ultimate frisbee team - and getting involved in other university activities was a good way to make friends.
“When I first came to UOW I wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was and to have so many people from so many places. I kind of expected everyone to be from Wollongong like me,” he said.
“You have to really put in an effort to make friends and put yourself out there to make the most of your university experience.
“I started playing ultimate frisbee at the start of last year. It’s the first team sport I played and I really enjoyed the camaraderie.
“It’s given me a lot of opportunities. We’ve gone all around the country and over to New Zealand. I went to both uni games last year and this year as well.”
Audi also took on a role as a student rep while at UOW, which involved giving presentations to prospective students at schools, career fairs and university expos.
“I really enjoyed that experience, to be able to talk to people about the university and why they should come to Wollongong and all the courses we have to offer,” he said.
He also tutored a maths subject last session, and while he found it rewarding and did briefly think about a career as an academic, he decided it wasn’t what he wanted to do, at least for now.
Instead, he will be starting a job next year with IMC, a Sydney high-frequency trading firm.
“Having a Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance was a perfect fit for going into that area,” Audi said.
“What they are looking for - particularly those boutique, specialist trading firms - is people with mathematical and programming backgrounds, even though they are working in the area of finance.
“For a lot of the grad positions with firms up in Sydney, having the mathematics and finance background really expanded the range of jobs I could apply for.”
Photo: University Medallist Audi Li. Credit: Matt Estherby