Don’t Fear Finance

One of the reasons I decided to come back to school was fear — fear of finance. One glimpse at a stock symbol or supply-demand curve and a wall of incomprehension quickly rose until it froze my brain, forcing me to flee to lighter news topics. I didn’t get Finance, and I didn’t think I could.

But fear is no way to live life, and as my career progressed, I realized the need to confront this fear. In my chosen field — corporate social responsibility — there’s the need for individuals who can work cross-functionally and make convincing cases for ethical and environmental practices in the “language” of each department. Finance is no longer something I can avoid.

So this semester, I am in Professor William Silber’s Foundations of Finance class, one of Stern’s core courses but also one of its most popular. Professor Silber has been teaching this class for a while, and he has the ability to lay out complex concepts in a way that is clear and comprehensible. At the end of each class, he asks one of his favorite questions: “How would you explain this concept to your old aunt?” Breaking down the lesson into simple take-aways is a great way to hammer in the class’s concepts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Finance is easy, nor am I saying that I completely understand it — yet. But I trust that by doing the work, I’ll prove to myself that I can get there and that there was nothing to fear.