The Broad MBA Finance Association recently hosted a panel of notable finance alumni from varying companies to share their advice and experiences with current students. The panelists included Mike Rose (MBA ’21), who works at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Theodore (T.J.) Ake (MBA ’17), an investment banking associate at Baird; Andrea Vigo (MBA ’05), senior global funding director at Dow Chemical; and Tim Kuennen (MBA ’14), who works in national planning and forecasting at Deloitte.

Zoom screenshot of MBA alumni speakers and students

Clockwise from top left: Andrea Vigo (MBA ’05), Theodore (T.J.) Ake (MBA ’17), Mike Rose (MBA ’21) and Tim Kuennen (MBA ’14), featured panelists at the MBA Finance Association event

The panel began with the alumni sharing their backgrounds and what ultimately led them to pursuing a Full-Time MBA at Michigan State and then a career in finance. As is the case with the current MBA class, each alumnus had a unique background.

Vigo, a Milano native, entered the MBA program with a background in consulting and engineering. Kuennen studied HR while attending the MBA program, and his studies combined with his background in accounting made him a great fit for internal planning and forecasting. Ake studied pre-med and German during undergrad but now works in investment banking. Rose started his career as a marketing consultant and then moved into banking in Ann Arbor, ultimately deciding to grow his finance knowledge with the MBA program. The wide array of stories that have led to these successful finance careers resonated with attendees looking forward to starting their new careers.

After learning about each panelist’s background, members of the Broad MBA Finance Association then sought to learn how to make the most of their MBA experiences. When asked what experience during the MBA program was the most influential to their career today, each panelist mentioned the importance of the presentation class. The panelists noted that while knowing and being fluent in financial standards is important, so is the ability to effectively communicate your knowledge and findings.

Kuennen also noted that networking within the program is immensely important; the relationships that are developed now will continue to flourish throughout your career. The attendees also asked panelists what they would change about their experience if they could go back. Rose provided great insight that he regretted not branching out to enough activities beyond finance. He emphasized that while you are in the MBA program, you should take advantage of meeting as many people as possible with different backgrounds. Additionally, the importance of networking will be a staple in your career, so going to various events now will help provide the opportunity to begin building those networking skills.

The panelists also provided helpful tips to be successful for a career in finance. Two of the panelists mentioned the importance of having a baseline knowledge of accounting. It was also mentioned that when recruiting and taking on new opportunities, it is important to stay up to date with the markets. Additionally, it is important to understand the financial metrics of the company that you’re interviewing for. Lastly, several panelists mentioned the importance of staying up to date by reading as much as you can from outlets such as Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal.

Ultimately, the alumni panelists enjoy the roles they are in, they said. Working in finance is an exciting field because you can work on an array of projects and make meaningful recommendations for upper management. The Broad Full-Time MBA program has helped shape so many successful careers in the finance sector, and we are excited to continue this momentum into the future.