Financial Engineering Students Meet and Greet Wall Street Alumni at CFEM
In the second "Meet and Greet the Street" session this year, more than 110 financial engineering students, alumni and other representatives of financial firms gathered at Cornell Financial Engineering Manhattan (CFEM), ORIE's 55 Broad Street facility on October 14, 2008. Featured at the event was a panel discussion, sponsored by UBS, Morgan Stanley, and CFEM, on "The Inside Scoop on Wall Street Jobs," moderated by CFEM Director Victoria Averbukh.
|Tim Grant holds up a copy of the Financial Times as fellow panelists Donald Peskin, Dmintry Sendarsky and Assem Mehta look on. Victoria Averbukh introduced the panel.
The panelists included Tim Grant, Managing Director, UBS; Aseem Mehta, Head of Interest Rate Desk Strategy, Morgan Stanley; Donald Peskin, Founder, Short Hills Capital, LLC; and Dmitry Sendersky, Co-Head of Derivatives Modeling, BlackRock Solutions. Mehta was recently named Managing Director at Morgan Stanley. Peskin is an ORIE alum, having received his BS in 1977, M. Eng. in 1978 and MBA in 1979.
Students at the session included those in their concluding semester in the program who have been working at CFEM, as well as first semester students who travelled to the Manhattan office from Ithaca for the event. According to Kathryn Caggiano, ORIE's Associate Director for the Master of Engineering program of which the Financial Engineering Concentration is a part, "the panel said that 'things are bad but this is not necessarily a bad time to get into the industry.'" CFEM took the initiative to schedule the October Meet and Greet because of the financial crisis, according to Averbukh. She said that several firms had asked that the event be moved up, since in the current "dire recruiting situation" they are recruiting earlier for summer positions of interest to the 1st semester students as well as for full time positions.
The panelists encouraged the students not to despair - jobs are still out there for students with quantitative skills. (According to Averbukh, less than 35% of the Fall 2008 graduates are still seeking employment). However the panel members emphasized that it is essential for students to be able to "communicate quantitative ideas in qualitative terms," in Averbukh's phrase. She summarized one panel conclusion as "GPA matters -- but not as much as some students think it does -- and it is essential to be able to communicate." Grant noted that M.Eng. students should not promote themselves as "quants" since that term is typically reserved for Ph.D. degree holders. He pointed out that the work of M.Eng. degree holders may be more qualitative in nature, or involve implementing the ideas of the "quants," which may actually mean that M.Eng. graduates may have more opportunities than quants.
Panelists noted that positions in trading, structuring, and credit derivatives have become scarce because of the changing nature of the financial services industry, but "change implies opportunity," particularly in private equity, asset management, hedge funds, and investment banking. However it may be easier to gain employment in smaller firms, since the traditional large investment banks are undergoing staff reductions.
Panelist Donald Peskin emphasized how important it is to employers that employment candidates display creativity, independent thinking, and inquisitiveness, so as to differentiate themselves from other financial engineering graduates, including those from other institutions. Panelists also said that it is important for candidates to be current on financial news (as published, for example, in the Financial Times issue being displayed by Tim Grant).
|Goldman Sachs Managing Director Michael Millette A&S '87 (left) chats with financial engineering students John Audino, completing his third semester and Qi An, in her first semester.
Among the Wall Street firms represented at the session by multiple employees were Bank of America, Barclays, Blackrock, Citigroup, D.E. Shaw, Dresdner Kleinwort, Fiduciary Trust, Financo, Fortis, Fox Meadow Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs, ITG, JPMorgan, Karma Blackbox (founded by Eric Pharis M.Eng. '99), Loomis Sayles, Morgan Stanley, MSCI Barra, Prisma Capital Partners (founded by Girish Reddy M.Eng. '78 MBA '80), Sanford Bernstein, Short Hills Capital, SurTerre Research (headed by Todd Rethemeier BS '93 MEng '94 MBA '95), UBS, and Winters Capital.