Open-minded approach to a strategic career move
Realizing that I needed an advanced degree to move ahead was a trigger point for applying for my MFE.
I had a lot of curiosity and kept my career options open when I got to Berkeley Haas. The accelerated timeframe of the Berkeley Haas MFE made a quick career pivot possible.
Among other things, my team designs portfolio from the bottom up for a highly regulated industry—insurance—with a long-term perspective, while building quantitative models for risk management, asset-liability management, and capital allocation.
Leaning on lessons learned in the MFE program
From a technical perspective, the Empirical Finance and Portfolio Optimization classes honed skills I use every day.
At first, I dismissed behavioral finance as “just psychology.” However, in completing my applied finance project I came to more fully understand and appreciate behavioral effects on financial performance, and how this can be investigated with quantitative skills.
The program also emphasizes the soft skills, like how to communicate effectively. After all, there comes a time when you have to be able to explain your model to your team or to a client.
Find your value and set your goals
It’s important to understand your goals. For me, it was not getting the best grades in every class. It was more important for me to know that I would be a strong job candidate in every discipline.
I want to maintain a good work-life balance. In Berkeley, that meant getting out to hike. In 20 minutes, you can be on Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam, and the Berkeley Hills are even closer.
Supportive classmates, staff, and alums
From the very beginning, the program staff made it clear they were there to help us, but we had to help ourselves, too. I knew I had to study the Green Book to prep for interviews. No one could do that for me.
Inevitably, Linda would cold-call me in our interview coaching sessions in front of the whole class. That was hard, but by the time I was in a real interview, one-on-one, I wasn’t nervous anymore.
The MFE graduates have been so generous with their time and insights. I am now proud to be part of the next wave of graduates who will carry on that welcoming tradition.