To date, 78 Malaysians have represented the country to the IMO. Spurred by their experiences in the IMO, they went on to do amazing things in their life. Some went on to study mathematics and become mathematicians, but their careers are not limited to maths! Others went on to be involved in asset management, finance, computing, engineering, technology, philosophy, medicine, education, journalism, real estate, and even music! Here are some of the ex-Olympians and their post-IMO reflections.
Ivan Chan Kai Chin
IMO 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
I am currently a Mathematics undergraduate at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Thanks to my friends who were involved in various Olympiads, I am blessed with numerous early exposures which now transform to a diverse range of interest including elliptic curves, Kähler geometry, conformal symmetry, quantum algorithms, nano-circuits, superconducting materials, and quantum AI. From a personal perspective, I enjoyed the Olympiad journey dearly, meeting wonderful friends who shared the same interest, and to travel to places which I could only dream of going. It will always remain as one of my fondest memories.
Muhammad Hafizudeen Mohamad Saman
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan currently triple majoring in Actuarial Mathematics, Statistics, and Data Science, and minoring in Business and Computer Science. I learned a lot throughout my journey towards IMO. I started appreciating my decision of making it into IMO, which has totally opened up a new and different path in my life. I got to meet a lot of great people with the same interest as me, but with talents far beyond that of mine. The IMO camp has become a platform for me to grow, not only as a mathematician, but also as a person. I am forever indebted to the Malaysian IMO committee for giving me the opportunity to become part of the MO community.
IMO 2015, 2016, 2017
I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, studying Actuarial Science, Pure Math, and Data Science. My experience in the selection camps, IMO and the people I have met motivated me to pursue and learn math more than what is conventionally considered needed in the job market. I used to dislike combinatorics when I first started joining the OMK but have come to like it and study it as extensive as I can in using it to solve problems in probability theory and statistics.
Shazryl Shafyz Zulrushdi
IMO 2013, 2014
The IMO has been an invaluable experience to me. It opened up a whole new world of mathematics, one that goes beyond what was taught in high school. It was an arduous journey at first, but eventually became enjoyable with the friends I made along the way. After the IMO, I did my degree in Actuarial Science at Universiti Malaya. As of today, I am a fledgling analyst in a fund management company.
Anzo Teh Zhao Yang
IMO 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, majoring in Pure Mathematics and Computer Science. I was a 4-time team member of the Waterloo Putnam team, winning 3 Honorable Mentions and 5th place team in 2019. I also won the 2nd place team for the 2018 ACM-ICPC East-Central North American Regionals programming competition. My achievement in the IMO had won me the recognition by top universities, including a full scholarship to study at Waterloo. My training experience also helped me to navigate through the rigorous mathematical courses at Waterloo. A more important takeaway, however, is the lesson that I can achieve anything with hard work.
Muhammad Faiz Zulbadli
After the IMO, I went on to study Mathematics under scholarships from Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and JPA at Imperial College London (BSc), University of Oxford (MSc), and University of Cambridge (MASt). I currently work in asset management, and I am now in my fourth year with PNB as an investment analyst. Studying maths has helped me develop skills in problem-solving and logical thinking which have proved invaluable in work and in life. I continue to be grateful for and humbled by the many memorable experiences and incredible people I have met in my maths journey.
M. Syafiq Johar
As a vocational student in high school, my exposure to the olympiad came very late (when I was 18). Nonetheless, it was crucial for cultivating my interest in maths. I did my degree in Pure Mathematics at Imperial College London and obtained my DPhil from University of Oxford, where I studied differential geometry and PDEs (more specifically: the Ricci flow). I was a Fleet Fellow at Princeton University and a college lecturer at University of Oxford before returning home to work at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Tham Ying Hong
IMO 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
I was an undergraduate at Stanford University and am currently a PhD candidate at Stony Brook University. My IMO experience, from training camps to competing abroad, gave me some of my fondest memories. It consumed my secondary school life, but gave me confidence in my mathematical abilities, and helped shape the second half of my life. These fun puzzles, along with their acutely temporal nature, appeal to a very particular set of people. While it is wonderful to see students excel in these competitions, we should not lose sight of those who fall behind, but instead encourage them to develop in their own way. After all, mathematical activity is as diverse as the humans who partake in it.
Muhamad Amir Mohd Fadzil
IMO 2007, 2008
I was amazed how beautiful math can be, when I found out many ways of solution can be produced for one IMO problem. Maths Olympiad has taught me that math are not just numbers, it is unlimited knowledge that one can endeavour. I strongly recommend Malaysian students to participate in any of the maths competitions especially the maths olympiad as you can grow your problem solving skills. One thing for sure, math is the mother of all sciences.
Loke Zhi Kin
IMO 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
After the IMO, I went to study at Stanford University. During that time, I have participated in the Lightspeed Summer Fellowship, where I had first-hand experience of the startup culture in Silicon Valley. I am now back in Malaysia training students in mathematics and programming.
16 years after the IMO, I still cherish the experience for how it expanded my world and my horizons. I studied journalism, then went on to work in politics, Anglo-Chinese business relations, marketing, and real estate. I am now a mum to two boys living in Australia and do cryptocurrency trading from home. Education is a cause close to my heart and I am passionate about helping children fulfill their potential.
Darren Ong Chung Lee
IMO 2002, 2003, 2004
After the IMO, I pursued a research career in pure math, and obtained a PhD in mathematics at Rice University. I am currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Xiamen University Malaysia. My research interests revolve around the math that explains quantum mechanics, and aperiodically ordered patterns (these are patterns that are non-repeating, but nevertheless contain a lot of structure). I am also very interested in applying mathematical ideas to art: click here to see a gallery of my paintings!
After the IMO, I went on to study Actuarial Science at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia sponsored by the Bank Negara (BNM) Scholarship and helped out coaching the subsequent Malaysian IMO teams. I worked for a few years in oil and gas exploration engineering before devoting my time in social work due to personal spiritual pursuit reasons. I reconnected with my old friend Suhaimi Ramly who brought me back into the Maths Olympiad initiatives under various platforms. Today, I am a freelance maths and guitar teacher, as well as a singer in a band.
Tan Ta Sheng
I studied Mathematics at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge for my BA, MASt, and PhD. For my PhD studies, I specialised in combinatorics and I was supervised by Imre Leader, the former UK IMO team leader. Upon graduating, I returned to Malaysia and has been working at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Universiti Malaya since 2013. My research work is in the area of combinatorics, with my main interests being problems in extremal combinatorics.
Yew Chang Yang
IMO 2001, 2003
IMO was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that opened up countless doors in my life journey. I followed my siblings’ footpath, studied medicine and am now a specialist anaesthetist in Australia. However, my love for maths lives on and after having gone through 14 years of medical training, I am returning to my first love and am now enjoying my postgraduate training to become a biostatistician. I will always be a proud maths nerd, enjoy the occasional Numberphile and 3Blue1Brown videos, write up a couple of Monte Carlo sims in R and Excel, educate others on mathematics of personal finance, and never shy away from any puzzles that comes my way.
Muhammad Ikhwan Azlan
IMO 2001, 2002
Besides a deeper appreciation of mathematics, the IMO experience allowed me to witness the breadth of traditions and cultures of knowledge and their histories across nations. After obtaining BSc and MSc in Mathematics at University of Nottingham and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia respectively, I realised that my interest in mathematics and education in general are too broad. I thus moved into the study of Islamic Thought and Civilisation instead at the RZS-CASIS Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, enrolling in their PhD programme under the supervision of Zainiy Uthman. I currently teach Philosophy of Science at KUIS, Selangor.
M. Suhaimi Ramly
IMO 1999, 2000, 2001
After the IMO, I studied Mathematics at MIT. After graduation, I came back to KL to work in finance. I left after a short while to focus on mathematics education. Around the same time, I co-founded a group of companies, focusing on technology. I’ve had the opportunity to work on various types of tech, such as software development, e-commerce, autonomous vehicle, edutech, and Big Data. One thing I learnt over the years is that underneath all the shiny tech, once you peel off the layers of buzzwords and obfuscations, you’ll find mathematics as the core foundation.
Ong Shien Jin
IMO 1999, 2000
I am currently a Professor of Practice at the Asia School of Business, founded by Bank Negara Malaysia and MIT Sloan. Participating in the IMO improved my quantitative problem-solving skills, something that helped me when I was an undergraduate at MIT and PhD student at Harvard. However, I discovered that quantitative skills alone are not enough to have a rewarding career. Working with others towards a common mission is both challenging and fulfilling — I am proud to have co-founded the Malaysia International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) program with Suhaimi Ramly, which is a sister program to the IMO.