Lucy Gao

Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) – Finance, 2014

Thesis project: “The Analysis of the Dividend Payout Decision: An Applications of Mixture Models”

Currently Senior Vice President at Houlihan Lokey, Financial Restructuring Group

Lucy’s role focuses on complex strategic advisory, distressed, and restructuring-related engagements, advising both companies and creditors. Her notable transactions at Houlihan Lokey include Virgin Australia, Bluewaters Power, CF Asia Pacific, Eclipx Group, LakeCoal, and Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.

What made you decide to take on additional Honours study?

“I have always thought a 3-year bachelor’s degree was not enough time in university to delve into complex problems in a discipline.”

“I completed three internships during my Bachelor degree – at Deloitte in Forensic; at UBS in the Investment Banking Division; and at Deutsche Bank in Markets/Sales and Trading. Nearing my graduation, I hadn’t found a graduate role that I wanted to pursue and wanted to explore what else I could do.”

“I had heard about the Honours program from some peers in the Finance Co-op program and it seemed interesting to work on a thesis project. It was also a potential pathway into further study and academia, and I wanted to keep my career options open.”

What was your favourite thing about Honours?

For Lucy, the cohort experience of the Honours program was one of the best parts of the program.

“The cohort is smaller, and you see your peers more frequently. You would have the same classes 2 to 3 days a week with the same people, and you are all working together on assignments and different theses. This is something that you don’t get in a regular Bachelor program, especially in Business degrees where the cohort is of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Outside of the enriching cohort experience, the one-to-one guidance on the Thesis project and the relationship built with an Honours supervisor is valuable and unique to the Honours program.”

What was some of your biggest learnings from your Honours program?

“The Honours program was very academic and research focussed during the time that I did my Honours. There was a lot of reading and research required and was a shift from the traditional courses from my Bachelors. It was also difficult at the time to see the practical or applied use of most of the content outside an academic context. But it was really insightful to learn about different research methodologies and how to apply these to your research paper, something that you do not experience in a regular Bachelor degree.”

Hard and Soft Skills for your Career

An Honours degree signals to employers that there is maturity and thought around career.

Whilst Honours and the thesis project that Lucy worked on is not directly relevant in her current advisory career, Lucy’s thesis project was industry relevant, and her research had practical implications. The additional year of honours helped Lucy develop valuable hard and soft skills, including robust data analysis, and using specific programs (e.g. SAS, Stata) and methodologies; skills that are particularly relevant in quantitative areas such as asset allocation, fund strategies or more execution focussed trading or market-based roles.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) program