At 16, Keshav Mahindra enrolled in a double major at the University of Waikato.
After “knocking out a few Year 13 subjects” and receiving University Entrance and NCEA Level 3 in Year 12, Keshav enrolled in a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Science with Honours (BCMS(Hons)) with a double major in mathematics and finance in 2014.
Applying for tertiary education at 16, Keshav was able to build on his education at Hillcrest High School and move into university study.
“I was really keen on studying at the University of Waikato as it was the only place I could combine my interest in both maths and finance,” he recalls.
He’d also received inside word on the degree.
“My brother graduated with the same qualification in 2010, so I knew all about it and knew it was what I wanted to do.”
It was a bonus that it was close to home, too. Born in New Delhi, Keshav moved to Hamilton at the age of six.
“Something always draws me back to Hamilton; the lack of traffic, accessibility and friendly faces keep me coming back.”
While Keshav admits the double major was a challenge because not many people were doing it - despite there being a demand for finance graduates with advanced mathematical skills - it’s given him a strong foundation in a quantitative area that makes him think analytically and critically.
Upon finishing his bachelor’s degree, Keshav went on to get his Master of Professional Accounting (MPACCT) within Waikato Management School and landed an internship at the business management consultancy Deloitte in Hamilton in his final year.
He was offered a full-time position after graduation and is now a senior analyst in their Corporate Finance practice.
“I had a great time at university. I could experiment with what I wanted to do through internships, experiences and the range of papers on offer.”
Some of those papers remain a standout to Keshav today, including Machine Learning Algorithms, led by Professor Eibe Frank, econometrics papers taught by Professor John Gibson and Professor Riccardo Scarpa, and his maths papers with Associate Professor Stephen Joe and Dr Tim Stokes.
“Economics lecturers John Gibson and Riccardo Scarpa were both influential as they guided my thinking on what I wanted to do at the time. They also helped me land my first internship at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.”
“Eibe Frank was known to have a rigorous work ethic, but he always had his office door open and had time for our questions. They’re all people I aspired to be like as a student.”
Outside the classroom, Keshav met people from many different backgrounds and high schools, forming key relationships with many he’s still friends with today.
He was also involved in the Computer Student Society (CS3). “There’s this misconception that we’re a bunch of nerds, and to be honest it’s probably true, but we liked going out, partaking in the annual CS3 pub crawl, and sharing stories over a drink or two. These memories helped define my university experience.”
Keshav encouraged people to find what they’re passionate about at university.
“A lot of people take it as a very serious thing, and it is at times, but you have to also have fun with it. Use the experience to figure out who you are and say yes to as many opportunities as you can. You have no idea where it could take you!”