THOMAS VERBRAKEN

Personal Interests

Bio

I was born in Hasselt, in 1984, but shortly after my birth we moved to Germany, where I have lived the first five years of my life. In 1989 we moved back to Sint-Truiden, Belgium.

After finishing secondary school, I went to Leuven to study Civil Engineering at the KU Leuven. During my fourth year at university, I participated in the Erasmus exchange project, and I had the opportunity to study one year at the Universidad Politénica de Madrid.

Upon completion of my studies, I joined the Traffic Research Centre at the Engineering faculty of the KU Leuven as a research associate. One year later, I moved to Budapest where I joined MSCI Inc., a financial service provider. To bring my financial knowledge up to speed, I enrolled in the CFA program in 2009, I successfully finished the third exam in June 2011, and became a CFA charterholder in December 2013.

In 2010, I returned to my alma mater, to start a PhD in statistical modeling and data analytics at the Faculty of Business and Economics under the supervision of Professor Bart Baesens, a leading researcher in the domain of data analytics. My research mainly focused on profit-driven data analytics (you can find more info here).

I received my PhD in September 2013, after which I returned to MSCI Inc., to work for the research team. Currently I am working on risk methodology and investment problems of clients around the world.

Cycling, running, and swimming

My long-time favorite pastime is definitely cycling in general, and road cycling in specific. I started when I was aged 15 and have continued - with ups and downs - until today. I enjoyed several holidays in the Alps and climbed many of the historical cols of the Tour de France.

In 2012 I have participated in the amazing challenge La Marmotte, which is a 176 km ride in the French Alpes, including Col du Glandon, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and Col d'Alpe d'Huez. I have completed this challenge a second time in 2013.

In 2013, I also started to run and swim, as a preparation for one of my dreams: a triathlon. In June 2014, I completed my first half IronMan at the beautiful lake of Balaton.

As a data focused geek, I am collecting all data about my cycling, running, and swimming activities on my Garmin Profile.

Hiking

As a teenager, I regulary went for a 5 days hiking tour with friends. Being out in the nature, sleeping in a tent, and enjoying beautiful panoramas after having suffered to climb a mountain was amazing.

This led to me walking El Camino de Santiago during the summer of 2010. Having started at the French border, it took around 5 weeks to arrive in Santiago de Compostela. As with many things, the road there was the greatest experience as it was a mix of walking in the fantastic nature, meeting interesting people, and slowly approaching the destination. It is definitely an experience I recommend to everyone.