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Young Investor Keagan Barnes Tops EMS Dean's Merit List

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

For EMS Dean’s Merit Awardee Keagan Barnes, achievement isn’t a matter of talent but of will - and that’s something he tries to teach his fellow students, as a mentor, tutor and chairperson of the University of the Western Cape’s Young Investor Programme.

(Published - 21 June 2019)

“The University of the Western Cape shapes you to be more than just an individual who is building a career just for yourself. At UWC you belong to a collective - a collective which has the responsibility of building others up, of giving back, of being a productive member of society, and not just another corporate suit.”

For Finance Honours student Keagan Barnes, that collective responsibility is vital to his success - and success should be shared. Even as he tops the Economic and Management Sciences Dean’s Merit List and is numbered amongst the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Academic Achievers, he is working as a tutor and mentor - and bringing finance to the masses as Chairperson of the University’s Young Investor Programme (YIP).

Barnes, the eldest of four children, did not have a strong educational example to follow as neither of his parents finished high school. But for him success was paramount - not optional.

“My secret is that I take life seriously,” he says. “I believe that I can achieve, not because I have seen it in my household but from sheer will. And that's what many students don't get. You can have the most detailed and ambitious timetable, but if you lack the will-power to follow it religiously, then it means absolutely nothing.”

He always knew he wanted to do something business-related.

“I originally wanted to go into information systems project management, due to my affinity for technology,” he says. “However, as I learned more about the industry I realized that I wanted something more, and finance seemed the most intricate and dynamic field.”

His own dreams are ambitious, but he is not quite ready to share them ("patents pending"). He sets the bar high.

“I suppose I view Elon Musk as a role model,” he muses. “I always say to myself that if Elon Musk can run multiple billion-dollar companies at the same time, then why can't I take on a bit more work?”

Finance For All: Young Investors For The Future

The University of the Western Cape’s Young Investors Programme (YIP) aims to help finance students familiarise themselves with their future work environment. YIP allows students to put their theoretical investment knowledge to practical use and learn by doing. The ultimate objective is to engage with professionals in the finance and investments industry in a meaningful way.  

“Essentially the Young Investors Programme aims to bridge the gap between the theory taught at university and the practical experience required in the workplace,” Barnes explains. “We develop technical and soft skills necessary for a top finance graduate. We get students invites to industry events such as the Monetary Policy Forum, get them to engage in roundtable discussions with CEOs and investment professionals, we bring in industry experts to teach students new skills, and we engage in community outreach projects.”

The Young Investors Programme is a home for finance students; it’s a place where like-minded finance students can meet and engage in thought. But it’s not just for Finance students.

“YIP lectures and workshops are open to everyone, whatever their field of study,” Barnes explains. “That’s because Finance itself is intricate - it affects every industry and every individual, and is affected by them as well. The industry needs different perspectives - philosophers, scientists, teachers, all have a place in Finance.”

YIP also engages with other societies on campus, like ABSIP, and YIP alumni play a big role in their impact on campus. For example, an ex-student of YIP managed to land a role at JP Morgan, got them to recruit at UWC (which hasn't been done before) and now two more YIP students got accepted at JP Morgan this year.

“That's YIP, giving back so that those that come after us can do even better,” Barnes says. “We’re transforming academics into professionals - and we hope they’ll go on to give back as well.”

YIP will be taking in a significant number of new students in the second semester.  

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