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From soccer pitches to corporate deal pitches

By Helen Dashney
Monday, December 5, 2022

What does being an investment banker and a Big Ten athlete have in common? Plenty, according to fifth-year student, Financial Markets Institute scholar and member of Michigan State University’s 2022 Big Ten Champion women’s soccer team Abby Gardiner.

Gardiner said the team’s head coach, Jeff Hosler, “expects us to work hard every day and holds each of us individually, and as a team, to very high standards. Despite the team’s success this fall, Jeff tells us to keep our underdog mentality and never stop playing with a chip on our shoulder.”

Since FMI was launched in the Broad College in 2006, scholars have taken this same approach to their careers, transforming this comprehensive training program into a sought-after source of talent by major money center banks. Gardiner knows this same mindset will lead her to a successful start in February as an investment banking analyst at Barclays in Chicago.

As the daughter of two Broad College alumni and student athletes — her father, Todd (B.A. Finance ’83), played ice hockey, and her mother, Jennifer (B.A. Marketing ’90), played tennis — Gardiner has cheered for the Spartans since childhood. So, when MSU recruited her as a sophomore at Northville High School, it was an easy decision to follow in her parents’ footsteps.

“The FMI has given me another special group of friends in addition to my teammates.”

Gardiner was introduced to FMI by alumna Celia Oatis (B.A. Finance ’20) and is one of several Big Ten athletes to be a scholar in this selective program. She said that being a scholar has challenged her in the classroom and greatly expanded her network.

“The FMI has given me another special group of friends in addition to my teammates,” she said, also noting how athletics was a part of every finance interview. “Recruiters were always interested in hearing about my experiences on the team, and soccer often was central to my responses to their questions.”

When asked why employers value high-level athletes, Gardiner said companies appreciate that athletes “know how to succeed, live up to high standards, recover quickly from inevitable setbacks, work in a team and want to win.”

In her fifth year, winning the Big Ten Championship hasn’t been the only high point for Gardiner. She has also enjoyed serving as a leader for the team, which is why Coach Hosler invited her to stay this season. In addition to playing both defense and midfield wherever she is needed, Gardiner has enjoyed contributing to the development of first-year and sophomore teammates who will soon take the lead in advancing women’s soccer at MSU.

Through it all, Gardner is grateful for the incredible outpouring of support she and the team have received this season from everyone in the Broad College, MSU Athletics and Spartan nation. She also acknowledges Barclays’ flexibility in delaying her start so she could participate in a season like no other she has experienced.

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