Each year, the Detroit chapter of Financial Executives International conducts a search for outstanding college students across universities in Southeastern Michigan to receive its Academic Awards, based on the students’ record of scholarship and service and their commitment to an accounting or finance career.
The FEI 2021 Academic Awards ceremony, held on Feb. 24, placed a spotlight on two Broad Spartans: Jordan Polk, Financial Markets Institute scholar and economics and statistics senior, and Katie Montague, Executive MBA student, as they each exemplify what it means to be a future leader in finance.
FEI is a leading organization for corporate finance professionals, and its mission is centered on advancing the profession as a whole. The annual awards help ensure that students studying finance are congratulated for their passion and dedication to bettering the field.
For Polk, receiving the FEI award is a huge honor. “These senior executives provide meaningful opportunities for career advancement through networking, knowledge, leadership and advocacy,” she said. “This serves as an opportunity to learn from and connect with over 600 experienced individuals of diverse backgrounds.”
Polk has made the most of her time at MSU and will graduate in May as a FMI scholar, econ scholar, Bailey scholar, MSU Alternative Investments Group co-president and student body vice president for finance and operations. After graduation, she is heading to Chicago to be an investment banking analyst for Barclays.
“Jordan is the epitome of FMI and Spartans Will — hard work, determination, aptitude and professionalism,” Dave Hawthorne, FMI director, said. “This award is a recognition of her many accomplishments during her education at MSU.”
At MSU’s Troy campus, Montague is pursuing her second master’s degree from Broad in the EMBA program; she previously graduated with an M.S. in Accounting in 2015. She is a class representative and member of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems’ External Advisory Board while working as an associate at Alvarez & Marsal, a management consulting firm with offices located worldwide.
“I credit the EMBA program with giving me the confidence to apply to my current position,” she said. “I wanted to transition from the middle market to consulting for larger public companies and was intimidated.”
Cheri DeClercq, assistant dean for MBA programs, said, “We’re proud of the students that have been recognized by FEI this year, and it’s particularly rewarding to see Katie’s success acknowledged in this way. Women have been significantly underrepresented in senior leadership roles in finance, but Katie, and others like her, are positioned to make a tremendous impact.”
Polk and Montague both acknowledged that women face barriers in the finance industry solely because of gender, noting that this recognition from FEI is an important step to combat that adversity.
“Female representation in business, and really every industry, is extremely important,” Montague said. “Diversity fosters creativity, innovation and learning. A wide range of perspectives forces one to encourage better, stronger work product.”
Polk added her advice for fellow female undergraduate students: “Go into every new opportunity with a positive attitude and give yourself the option to explore different career outcomes,” she said. “As well, along the way, spend time developing formal and informal mentors to help guide your path.”
With this recognition, Polk and Montague are two examples of women in business serving as an inspiration for others to reach higher and persevere. The future of finance is bright with strong Broad Spartans like Polk and Montague paving the way.