A Physics Major's Tryst with Finance : Sainandan Mohanty
In this era of globalization, what we need the most are all-rounders who can excel in an array of fields. Sainandan Mohanty, a pre-final year student pursuing Integrated M.Sc. Physics has taken the definition of an all-rounder to a different level altogether. The Innovision 2018 Convener and the Ex-Vice President of Hourglass has forayed into fields like cryptocurrencies and finance to prove that nothing is impossible if one has the will and interest to accomplish the goal.
Following is an excerpt from a conversation team Monday Morning had with Sainandan Mohanty, where he talks about his selection procedure and shares his internship experience at Goela School of Finance.
MM: Walk us through your childhood and early days.
Sainandan Mohanty: I am an inhabitant of Odisha, and I hail from Cuttack. As a child, I was considered to be very curious. The number of household appliances I’ve split up and then failed to put them back together is staggering. The only person who mirrored this quirk of mine was my father. He has always been a constant source of encouragement. Sitting glued to a computer screen trying to comprehend its complexity and tinkering with something or the other along with my father were the two interests of mine that shadowed the rest.
MM: How did Integrated MSc Physics at NITR happen to you? Were you always interested in Physics?
SM: I completed my schooling from ICSE board and then switched to CHSE for my intermediate. I was mainly targeting engineering entrance examinations, and during that period, I realized nothing fascinates my mind more than Physics. That coupled up with my not-so-good JEE rank and pushed me into pursuing an Integrated MSc in Physics, here at NIT Rourkela. I have never felt that this degree is being shoved down my throat, it was my own choice to take it up.
MM: What all fields are you interested in and what is the ultimate field you want to get into?
SM: As stated, I am very curious about almost everything and so there's hardly any field that doesn't excite me. In my second year at NITR, I had worked on some Android and Web Development projects and Decentralised Applications or 'Dapps' based on the Ethereum blockchain. During that time, I was also able to build a solid and rewarding freelancing profile. After I began to work with blockchains, I could never really understand the financial aspect of decentralized transactions. That made me delve deeper into the world of finance and how it's controlled by intricate computer programs. I do believe that the current primary instrument of exchange, i.e. fiat currency will soon be deemed inoperative and upcoming global economic reforms will adopt some form of cryptocurrency for worldwide trade and transactions. Hence, I wish to help the world make that transition in any way possible.
MM: How did you bag the recent internship at Goela School of Finance?
SM: My first interaction with the Goela Brothers was during Tech-X where they were invited to deliver a guest lecture. Their ideology inspired me because they had the kind of clarity in life that everyone wishes to have. They knew where they have been, where they are, where they're heading and what sort of resources they need to get there. Hence, after discussing with some of my friends and seniors I decided to mail them my CV and ask for a summer internship. In their first reply, they seemed very apprehensive about taking up someone as an intern who had no background in finance. But they kept an open mind and asked me to submit two short reports on "Stock Markets during Wartime" and "Increment in Oil Prices" to check my aptitude for research. After submitting those reports, I finally got the confirmation letter.
MM: Your internship was based on cryptocurrency. What exactly did you work on?
SM: The internship itself was not based on cryptocurrency. In the beginning, I was tasked with conducting market research on various stocks, companies, and financial instruments. After a week into the internship, I was asked to choose a field related to finance according to my interests, and I chose cryptocurrency. Then, I studied the various characteristics of typical instruments of exchange, starting from the barter system to the present system of fiat currency and tried to ascertain the factors that determine the success of a currency. It was at this point that I received a lot of help and feedback from Aditya Goela and Harsh Goela. I analyzed almost 150 popular cryptocurrencies currently in exchange and sorted them into buckets based on various factors related to their feasibility in the real world These included transaction speed and energy consumption. Eventually, the list was narrowed down to just 3 cryptocurrencies. But even they had minor drawbacks which kept them from replacing traditional fiat currency. Hence, now I'm working on a model which eliminates those drawbacks. Hopefully, it can be adopted as the primary instrument of exchange in the future.
MM: What inspired you to take up a financial sector internship despite majoring in Physics?
SM: Honestly speaking, the Physics that fascinated me during my intermediate, scared me when I came to NIT Rourkela. It's not an easy subject to pursue and demands complete attention if one wishes to succeed at it. From the beginning, I knew that I was not cut-out for the field of scientific research; I have always wanted to work in a field where my contributions can have the maximum impact on the world. Programming and Finance are the two fields that can do just that. Therefore I decided to walk the tightrope with both of them.
MM: Share with us your internship experience.
SM: It was the most rewarding period of my time here at NIT Rourkela. Working with people who are not yet completely established in their field but are progressing towards it with leaps and bounds helped me be aware of the journey one needs to take and the courage one needs to have to swim against the tide. I received daily and weekly assignments and the work hours were fairly flexible. It was okay to not come in and work from home as long as you finished your assignment. Although I preferred to sit alongside the Goela Brothers in their office as one would not want to miss out on their constant outflux of inspiration and intuition. The whole experience was more sweet than bitter. One of the employees there and my co-intern brought me home-cooked meals for lunch every day. This saved me from having a bout of Delhi Belly! The only thing that I hated about the internship was the location. Delhi's weather and pollution can breakdown simpletons like me in a jiffy.
MM: What are your future prospects?
SM: Eventually, I want to pursue an MBA with a specialization in Finance. This will help me bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical implementation. Down the lane, I see myself as an entrepreneur with a fin-tech venture.
MM: What message would you like to give to our readers?
Don’t be afraid to dream big. We are reduced to nothing more than mindless robots when our inner child dies. Don’t let that flame get extinguished, for that is what makes you and your work unique. Try to learn something new every moment of your time here at NITR, for anything can act as a source of inspiration if you’re perceptive enough. Don’t be afraid to make the more courageous choice and try to escape your comfort zone any way possible.