Introducing Fintech

Hi Guys!

Today, I want to talk to you guys about finance – specifically, Fintech.

As a humanities major, finance as an MBA student has always been a necessary evil. And yet, what I didn’t expect to find was that the disruption of financial technology proved endlessly fascinating to me. From introducing the concept of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, to the simple move to online and mobile banking, this was a space that is growing at tremendous speeds. Just between 2010 and 2015, investment in the industry increased tenfold, from less than $2 billion to nearly $20 billion.

Stern is probably most known for its financial prowess. We have some of the most lauded professors in the industry (Damodaran, Silber and Murphy to name a few), and our unique location in NYC places us only a couple subway stops from Wall Street. Therefore, it only made sense that administration took notice and understood the importance of this growing industry. This past school year, NYU Stern became the first top business school to offer a specialization in fintech.

fin tech conference
Dean Henry introducing Fintech to Stern

The value of a MBA degree in the fintech space has always been highly valued, as some of the biggest fintech giants such as SoFi, Commonbond, and Earnest were all co-founded by MBA graduates. However, until recently, MBA students were not provided to the academic and career support to keep up with the industry.  David Yermack, a finance professor as well as academic co-chair of the specialization believes that the key is to create a curriculum that “teach[es] what companies on the outside are hiring students to do.”

As part of the specialization, Stern has introduced eight new courses dedicated to fintech which ranges from understanding blockchains and digital currencies to personal finance and payments and risk management. (For specific courses, see here)

We also kicked off our first ever annual FinTech Conference last November. The conference included panels on marketplace investing vs. venture capital, beyond blockchain, and keynote speakers Ken Kroner (retired Senior Managing Director, BlackRock) and Dan Schulman (Stern MBA ’86 and current CEO, PayPal). You can find out more about the conference here.

paypal CEO w: murphy
Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal and Stern alum speaking at the FinTech Conference with moderator Prof. Charlie Murphy

Furthermore, since the industry is dominated mostly by startups that are headquartered in NYC, we have also been able to organize multiple treks for company visits, as well as regularly source speakers from companies such as Venmo and Orchard Platform. Overall, the introduction of the specialization has signaled to companies that Stern students are not only interested and serious about this industry, but also possess the relevant skillset and knowledge.

As always, till next time!

Studying Abroad Through Stern

Hi All!

After a 7-week winter break, it feels so good to be back in NYC, to be back at Stern finishing my final semester of business school (!!!?). I’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting back into the grind, and of course catching up with my amazing classmates, some who I haven’t seen in over half a year!

For those of you that don’t know, one of the many reasons I love Stern is just the incredible amount of opportunities it provides its students to work, study, and travel abroad. Whether it be through our short-term Stern Signature Projects (SSP) and Doing Business In…(DBi) programs, or our longer-term semester and half semester exchange programs, there are just a wealth of programs offered abroad. Every year, a good number of students decide to spend a full semester abroad, and here I’d like to introduce you to two of them.

Exchange Buddies @ HKUST (photo from: Caspar Di Sun)

Kimberly (Kimi) Rodriguez and Caspar Di Sun are both second year MBA students with me who spent their last semester as an exchange student at London Business School (LBS) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) respectively.

Welcome to London! (photo from: Kimberly Rodriguez)

V: Hi Guys! It’s so nice to have both of you back at Stern! Did you enjoy your time abroad?
K: Yes of course! London was amazing. I mean I love New York, it will always be exciting, but there’s just a completely different feel about London. It’s slightly slower than hectic NYC for one, and it is a bit more international- LBS itself has a 92% international student body!
C: Being originally from China, there’s just no place like home. I also have plans to move back to Hong Kong post-graduation, so it was great to be there, learn the city and create a network while still at school.

V: Can I ask what in particular made you decide to study abroad? And why you chose where you did in particular?
C: I believe studying abroad enriches and enhances my overall MBA education. Hong Kong is a gateway to doing business in China and China is not just a buzzword in today’s globalized economy but also a true battlefield in today’s business competition. HKUST is a world-renowned education institute. Hong Kong is one of the busiest metropolitan cities in the world. Hence, it was not a hard decision when I factoring those reasons together.
K: I am an international student, and one of the main reasons I came to Stern was that I have family and friends in New York. However, I came knowing that I also wanted try going somewhere that would force me out of my comfort zone, where I would be living somewhere completely new and get to meet an entirely new set of people. Furthermore, I understand the importance of planting seeds in different countries, of expanding my network geographically.

V: What would you say was your favorite thing about being abroad?
K: The ease of traveling within Europe. (see more of Kimi’s adventures here!)
C: Terrific friends I made from the world MBA community.

V: Would you ever go back to London/Hong Kong to visit or live?
C: I’m definitely moving to Hong Kong after graduation. And since I will be living in there, I would like to be the “friendly ghost” in Hong Kong for any Sternies on the exchange program in Hong Kong and will try be as helpful as I can when you need.
K: No plans at the moment, but definitely would be up to go back and visit!

V: Words of advice?
K: If you plan on recruiting in New York full-time in your second year, make sure that you understand the risks and opportunity costs of spending 25% of your MBA in another country. Ultimately though, I believe it was more than worth it.

And that’s it! Hope everyone enjoyed having these two amazing friends of mine drop-in as much as I did. Till next time!

Summer Intern Diary

Hi Everyone!

With the sudden drop in temperature this past week, it’s as if the city is reminding us that fall is here and school is back in session full swing. It’s crazy to think that just a little over a year ago I was moving halfway across the world from Asia settling in this beautiful city. And what a crazy, busy, fun-packed year it’s been!

I haven’t really been active this summer as I’ve been busy completing my summer internship with Spotify here in NYC that ended a few weeks ago. I was part of the newly created Client Relationship Management Team (CRM) team, in charge of internal marketing strategy, and had an absolute blast.

The cutest welcome sign that my team made me on my first day & our orientation swag.

As some of you may know, I came to Stern to explore the entertainment media and technology sphere. As a non-traditional industry, I didn’t really have the set timeline and structure that many fellow classmates of mine followed. Instead, I had gotten my internship through one of the many company treks that the student clubs host on Fridays.

Since my team was super new, I had a pretty atypical summer in the sense that I didn’t really get put on one intern project per say, but rather jumped right into the fray. I worked on about 5-10 global marketing campaigns at a time on average, all at a variety of stages: from strategic planning, customer insight result analysis to operational fixes.

Spotify, like many companies, also had an established MBA internship program. This included a speaker series, an intern weekend, and a summer project. Interns are also invited to all social events at the company, such as building and being part of the company’s Gay Pride Parade float, our Father’s Day special events, and of course, Open Mic and Karaoke night (we are a music company after all). At the conclusion of the internship, every intern also had the opportunity to present their project to the entire NYC office. The program allowed me to gain a better understanding the company as a whole, as well as network and make friends across the different verticals.

Selfie featuring some of the awesome Summer 2016 Spotify USA interns.
(failed) Selfie featuring some of the amazing Summer 2016 Spotify USA interns. (Photo Credit: Travis Robinson)

As many MBA students are career switchers, this helps you decide whether or not this company, or perhaps industry, is indeed what you want to pursue full-time. The summer internship is safest time to try this out, as there is always the opportunity to re-recruit once you’re back in school to complete your second and final year.

Personally, I’ve had such an amazing time this summer that I actually haven’t left yet! Like many entertainment media and tech companies, Spotify alas does not extend full-time return offers post summer, but I’ve been lucky and honored enough that my team has asked me to stay on part-time during the fall.

Till next time!

Passport Day

Hi Everyone!

One of the main reasons that I decided to matriculate at Stern, and a factor that really sets Stern apart, is just how diverse our student body is and more importantly how we embrace that diversity.

But first, I should really start with a little background about myself.

I was born in Virginia (hence the name), but had left the country and moved abroad to Asia at a mere 6 months of age. My family moved frequently, and I as a result I spent 6 years of my childhood in China (where we are originally from), 11 in the Philippines, and the last one divided amongst several Central Asia countries, with a base in Uzbekistan.

Being a Third Cultural Kid, one of the main things that drew me to Stern was in fact how international our Full-Time MBA student population is, a fact that is evident both inside and out of the classroom. One particular event that really lets everyone celebrate their culture, background, and heritage is the annual Passport Day organized by the Stern Student Government (SGov). The event allows students to sign up to represent their country and showcase traditional cuisine, costumes, music and/or performances.

Countries Represented in the Full-Time MBA Program
Countries Represented in the Full-Time MBA Program

This year, 47 of the 63 countries had participated in Passport Day. We had amazing performances from a variety of countries, including dances from India, Azerbaijan, and Morocco. All the dances were choreographed and performed by students (here’s a performance of the India dance!).

Personally, a couple friends and I had decided to collaborate and do a combined South East Asia booth for the event. We represented three countries in the region, and had local delicacies from each, including Tea Leaf Salad from Burma/Myanmar, Lumpia from the Philippines, egg tarts from Singapore, and a combined mango coconut sticky rice dessert. The last in particular we all made as a group and was a huge hit!

The South East Asia's mango coconut sticky rice dessert!
The South East Asia’s mango coconut sticky rice dessert!

It was an impressive event and reminded me of why I chose to come to Stern, a place that is brimming with culture and collaboration and what amazing international people I get to have as my fellow classmates.

A Week In the Life Of…

Friday company visit to Mars Chocolate
Friday company visit to Mars Chocolate

The question that I get asked most often since I started my MBA at Stern was “So what’s a typical day like?”

Sadly, (as cliché as it may sound) there is no typical day here. My schedule seems to fluctuate from hour to hour, each one jammed packed with academics, recruiting, interning, club events, social life and of course sleep. Therefore, in an attempt to give a more holistic view of what it’s actually like to be a full-time MBA student at Stern, we’ll go over what a “typical” week looks like.

My week starts off typically with lots of groaning, a full breakfast, and coffee. Then at 10:30am, I make it to my first class, Corporate Finance, taught by one of Stern’s best, Professor Damodaran (PS. A few of is lectures are recorded and online for free, so you should all check him out). Afterwards, I typically catch up with friends over lunch regarding the weekend before heading to my next class, which is taught by another superb professor, Dolly Chugh: Leadership In Organizations.

I have a short break from 4:30-6pm, where you can find me either at a group meeting or catching up on emails while eating dinner. From 6 to 9pm, I have my last class of the day, Entertainment Media Industries, which also happens to be the core requirement class for the EMT specialization here at Stern. Mondays are my busiest days, so I’m always happy to be back home and in my bed at the end of it.

I don’t actually have class until 1:30pm on Tuesdays (Foundations of Finance with the amazing Professor Silber), but one of the great perks of Stern is its location and the endless opportunities that NYC brings. I’m interning this semester at an indie film distribution company, so I actually head to work first thing in the morning, then straight to class.

Before my 6-9pm night class, I have a good 3 hour break where I can attend club events (which are often training or info sessions), go on coffee chats, go to the gym, and even cram homework.

I’m back in Corporate Finance at 10:30am on Wednesdays, and then straight to work after class, where I’ll be for the rest of the day.

I love Thursdays because I have nothing scheduled until class at 1:30pm! You’ll still typically find me on campus around 10am latest though, where I’ll be attending various group meetings, club and recruiting events.

Thursdays are also amazing because they are Beer Blast days. Beer Blast, for those unfamiliar, is a four hour open bar (beer and wine only) hosted a different club every week from 6-10pm in Stern, and is open to all full and part time MBA students. After class gets out for me at 6pm, that’s where we usually end up. After the week of classes, recruiting, and meetings, beer blast is the best way to unwind, catch-up and get to know your classmates better over some food and drinks.

Stern doesn’t have any classes on Fridays in order to accommodate all the other activities that we have going on. If there isn’t a student club hosting a conference that week, then there will be some sort of trek, company visit, symposium, and/or coffee chat set up. It’s also a great time to catch up on work, school and sleep. Personally, if I’m not at some sort of student club event or a trek, then I’d be at work Fridays.

Differentiating When It Matters Most

Hi Everyone! As you may or may not know, one of the great things about Stern is that all the clubs are student led and student run. As an MBA1, you have the opportunity to apply to AVP positions for a wide range of clubs and positions, which is amazing, as we can not only practice our leadership and managerial skills, but also have direct access to all the club’s resources! This year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the AVPs of Conference for the Graduate Marketing Association (GMA). Our annual conference was held late last year on November 6th and was a huge success!

Since our conference is pretty early in the school year, planning actually starts earlier during the spring/summer. My amazing VPs (Hi Debbie & Aileen!) had already booked a venue, set a theme, and reached out to speakers by the time we AVPs came on board to sort out the details and kinks.

Our lovely conference brochures!
Our lovely conference brochures! (Photo Credit: Nevena Georgieva)

The conference theme this year was “Engaging Consumers: Differentiating When It Matters Most.” Our keynote speakers included the marvelous Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions for Facebook, and the CEO & Co-Founder of Brooklyn Brewery, Steve Hindy. There were also panels focusing on digital branding, packaging, and 360 activation, with speakers ranging from Unilever to Google to Lancôme. Our afternoon sessions also featured a panel co-hosted by the Stern Women In Business group on campus, along with a MBA1 Mini Case event hosted by our sponsor companies.

It was definitely a lot to coordinate – we needed to secure speakers, market our event, create pamphlets…and all within a student org budget! My first assignment was to create an app for the event (go check it out! You can learn more about the conference and attendees here: – which was definitely a new experience for me! There were times, especially closer to the conference, where I would put away my phone for half an hour only to come back with 35 new emails and 10 new action items. But in the end it was super worth it to see the conference go off without a hitch and to get positive feedback. Not to mention the preparation and event day were both excellent networking opportunities!

Goodie bags!!
Goodie bags!!

I had such a blast both planning and participating in this conference. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, the conference is open to public, so feel free to come by next year! Not to mention the GMA Conference is just one of many, many conferences and events held and run by students throughout the year, so there are tons of options to choose from.