Meet this year’s teenage Excel champion

Chi Kin Che

In July, Chi Kin Che, an 18-year-old from Macao, parlayed his love of math into a victory at an Excel global student competition. Now, after winning the 2019 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship, he is considered a master in Excel 2013, according to the event sponsor, Certiport, a company that provides certification exams in a variety of disciplines.

Chi had studied Excel for about three years before joining the Certiport Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship competition.

“I thought it provided a great chance to show my talent, and it was an unforgettable experience to fight against adversaries in an international competition,” he said.

Chi, a student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, was one of 850,000 students from 119 countries who entered the 2019 MOS championships to test their skills in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Students entered the competition by taking a qualifying Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products. Regional competitions were held worldwide, and 162 student finalists from 57 countries competed in the final round in New York City in July. The world champion winners received a trophy and $7,000.

While Chi had been familiar with Excel, he learned much more about the program’s usefulness during three months of training before competing.

“In the beginning, I had special, friendly feelings for Excel, but slowly I found that Excel is quite helpful for me to do a lot of things in my daily life,” he said.

He also discovered the power of Excel’s functionality when it comes to analysing data and creating charts. His favourite function is creating formulas, which he uses to manage his personal budget. Chi plans to continue using Excel to hone his newfound money management skills. He offers a couple of tips for ways the average person can harness the power of Excel for everyday use.

Take online Excel classes. Not everyone who uses Excel will go on to become a world champion, but Chi believes anyone can improve their abilities by taking special classes in the platform. “There are a lot of classes in Excel on the internet, and all of them could be mastered easily,” he said. Microsoft Office offers several online tutorials.

Master Excel’s keyboard shortcuts. Chi is a fan of keyboard shortcuts, which are combinations of keys that provide an alternative way to execute functions that you’d typically do with a mouse. Excel offers myriad shortcut combinations, which Chi refers to as function keys, and users can pick those that offer the most help.

“For example, Ctrl+E is one of the functions that I use every day,” he said. Ctrl+E is the keystroke for Flash Fill, a powerful function that can combine data from different cells into a single cell or extract data from a single cell into different cells. This eliminates the time-consuming task of performing these functions manually.

Chi considers the shortcut keys Excel’s greatest strength, and he advocates for others to learn more about harnessing the power of the platform. “Excel is a great tool for people,” he said. “You can do anything using Excel.”

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at