My life at the crossroads of cultures started on 31st of May 1968 as the only son of a Singaporean mother and a Swiss father. In 1975, the family emigrated to Australia in search for a better life. Our small apartment in a northern suburb of Sydney was not far from the ocean, and I could be found daily playing at the beach after school.
Subsequently, however, we moved back to Switzerland were father started his distinguished career in banking. In 1985, after graduating from the Rhine Valley Secondary School, I embarked on my own career in commercial and investment banking: 3 years with the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) followed by 2 years with the Zurich subsidiary of Okasan Securities, a Japanese stock brokerage house. At Okasan, I eventually ended up heading the trading assistant group.
In 1990, I left the banking world to fulfill my long-held desire to make a personal voyage to the New World. I set foot on American soil for the first time on 4th of August 1990 after a two week-long Atlantic passage on a cargo ship. I crisscrossed America for many weeks by plane and train and subsequently ended up in California.
There, I somehow stumbled into the world of science. I am grateful that I took the chance and the risk of embarking, first at the University of California then at Purdue University, on an academic career. Since then I have enjoyed a fulfilled life and, hopefully, I am able to continue to engage in analyses and research.
I graduated from Purdue in 1996 with an honors degree in economics (BSc Econ.). During a visiting year at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1993-4, I not only developed a close affinity with the School but also a keen interest in transformation economics. This I have continued to pursue at that exceptional institution of higher learning. The University of London, of which the School is a constituent college, elected me to a Master of Science (MSc) in November 1997.
One of the seldom enough chances in life brought me indeed to one of the countries I studied at university. For most of 1999, I had the privilege to be a resident advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Government of the Republic of Poland. My work in Warsaw, were I took a small flat, focused mainly on higher education funding issues. At the end of my contract and after nearly 10 years abroad, I moved permanently back to Switzerland to take up a position with the Government of the Swiss Confederation. I was employed as Desk Officer for several multilateral financial institutions and attached to the new State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. I left the Swiss Government, however, after only a short interlude. At the time, father was restructuring his company, now named Bigger & Partner. Immediatetly after leaving public office, I responded to his request for help, drafting the new business plan and developing electronic commerce solutions. My father developed cancer, which was discovered at a very late stage. My father died in 2002. I still have to this day episodes during which I feel very sad because of his death. The family business was eventually wound up, and I joined Swisscanto Group, a Swiss financial services group with over CHF 50 billion under management. I had a good 10-year run with Swisscanto, eventually taking responsibilities as the Risk Officer. I left for a longer career break, doing paleontological research in Africa, the cradle of humanity. Learn more about my field studies in Africa in the Science section. Upon my return to Switzerland, I started a new venture, a fusion of a social enterprise with a for-profit service provider. My entrepreneurship has been much informed by my professional background in the asset management industry and my recent extended sabbatical in Africa.