Ted Hsu

Principal Portfolio Trading Desk Head, Japan Institutional Equities Division, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and former Member of Parliament representing Kingston and the Islands

What is your physics education

What was your physics education?

B.Sc. in Theoretical Physics, Queen's University 1984
Ph.D. Princeton University 1989.

What is was your first job, was it a physics job, did you use your physics background?

How did you get your first job? Was it a physics job? Did you use your physics background?

I applied for postdocs and got one at UBC with Prof. Ian Affleck. We knew each other from his days as an assistant professor at Princeton and when I was a graduate student. But as for non-postdoc jobs, in 1994 the physics permanent job situation was looking bleak, so I decided to try and follow some physics friends into finance. I replied to an ad in the New York Times of all places, and got the job. It should never work like that but that's what happened. The job was at a small US quantitative trading firm which was recently purchased by the French bank BNP.

You use not physics knowledge, but all that experience writing computer programs, deciding on and implementing models to interpret experimental data, solving problems, working long hours.

What were your subsequent job searches, career changes etc

Describe subsequent job searches and career changes.

After my PhD, I took on a managerial position at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. After which, I worked for the Banque Nationale de Paris in France and for Morgan Stanley in Tokyo, where I learned about the global capital markets and gained experience as a business manager.

I have authored or co-authored 25 research papers, mostly in the area of many-body physics. I worked in research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, the CNRS-CRTBT in Grenoble, France, and Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) in Chalk River, Ontario.

Most recently, I was elected Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands in May 2011. During various periods I served as the Liberal Party of Canada’s spokesperson for Science and Technology, Post-Secondary Education, Federal Economic Development in Ontario, and Natural Resources. From 2012 to 2015, I was chair of the Ontario Liberal caucus. In November 2013, I was the winner of a Maclean’s Parliamentarian of the Year Award, voted by parliamentarians from all parties as the MP who “Best Represents Constituents”, after being a runner-up in other categories the previous two years. I have been an advocate for evidence-based policy, government support for science, the commercialization of discovery research, STEM education, climate change mitigation, and parliamentary and electoral reform.

Memorable physics moments

What was your most memorable physics moment?

The 1987 APS March Meeting in New York at the Hilton, the height of the High Tc Superconductivity mania. For the special High Tc session on Thursday night (I think) I watched a TV showing the proceedings taking place on an entirely different floor of the hotel. It was that crowded. We made the front page of the New York Times the next day. I don't know if there has ever been a similar physics event since.

Which parts of your physics education have been most useful

Which parts of your physics education have been the most useful?

Summer research jobs, computing experience, the self-confidence you get from battling it out in the academic research world, knowing my graduate student classmates - an exceptional bunch of guys, the experience of hard work on difficult problems

Courses you should have paid more attention to

Courses you should have paid more attention to...

I paid attention to my physics courses.

Courses you wish had been available

Courses you wish had been available...

None, I was lucky to have had a wide range of choices.

Differences between jobs that a person with a MSc can get versus BSc, or PhD vs MSc etc

Differences between jobs for graduates with MSc vs BSc or PhD vs MSc?

An MSc can be suspect without the PhD, you need to explain to people why you did it. The PhD is moderately useful for getting hired in jobs which involve critical thinking, organizing, planning. BUT, nothing is nearly as useful as having Princeton or Harvard on your resume. No Canadian institution is on the same level for attracting an employer's attention to your resume.