13 students named 2017 Finance Fellows

2017 Finance Fellows: (L-R from the top: Lauren Fu, Aaron Nordvik, Jake Wamala, TJ Bakshi, Matt Bond, Vera Liu, Alex Tsai, Melissa Hulme, Steve Keim, Richard Levernier, Dmitriy Berenzon, Dan Clayton. Missing from photo: Maurizio Asperti. Photo: Jim Block)

Before applying to MBA programs, Jake Wamala, MBA 19, had already decided to pivot from private equity to a career as an investment analyst specializing in technology stocks and startups.

Wamala is now making that transition, as one of 13 students awarded a Haas Finance Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year.

“Business school provides such a great learning opportunity,” he said. “You’re surrounded by new technologies, new businesses, and people with a myriad of backgrounds.”

Finance fellowships are awarded annually to entering MBA students who have shown a commitment to building a career in finance and have a clear roadmap to achieving that goal, says William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs for the Berkeley Haas Finance Group.

This year’s fellows, all full-time MBA students, are:

  • Stephen Keim, Xiaoyi (Vera) Liu, and Maurizio Asperti, who are Investment Banking Fellows.
  • Tejbir (TJ) Bakshi, Hsueh Hung (Alex) Tsai, Aaron Nordvik, and Jake Wamala, who are Investment Management and Quantitative Finance Fellows.
  • Dmitriy Berenzon, Xin Lei (Lauren) Fu, Richard Levernier, and Matthew Bond, who are Entrepreneurial Finance Fellows.
  • Melissa Hulme and Daniel Clayton, who were each awarded CJ White fellowships earlier this year.

Fellows should exemplify the core values of Haas and serve as ambassadors to the world of professional finance. Recipients receive a cash award and priority enrollment for finance electives and are paired with a mentor, often a Haas graduate, who works in finance.

For Wamala, working with a mentor, Ted Janus, a principal at J Capital, has already paid off. “My mentor has seen a number of up and down cycles in that industry and has given me valuable insights,” he says.

Becoming a “more well-rounded business person”

Half of this year’s fellows are focused on investment-related careers, a sharp increase from last year. “More students are showing interest in asset allocation as opposed to stock picking,” Rindfuss said.

Melissa Hulme has worked in investment management for six years, and said she is looking forward to continuing a career in the space.

“The majority of my experience to date has been in selecting companies and funds to invest in, but I also really enjoy thinking about how individual companies or funds fit within the context of the broader portfolio.” Hulme said she also wants her work to have a positive social impact. “A big problem is the underfunding of pension funds. I want to help them generate greater returns.”

Hulme has already developed analytical skills; she hopes the MBA program will help her become a more well-rounded business person and build a deeper understanding of strategy, operations, and marketing. “I also want to learn more about leadership and the softer skills,” she says. “I think I can get that and more from this program.”

For the 2017-18 academic year, Haas awarded about $8.7 million total in scholarships and fellowships to entering students in the Full-Time MBA program.