Richard Lindsey, managing partner at Windham Capital, offered some clear advice for the 79 Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering graduates at Friday’s commencement: invest in your professional network, hold fast to your ethical standards, and “don’t sweat the money.”
“We all like money, or at least the lifestyle that it can provide, but you should do what you love, rather than focus on the money,” said Lindsey, who holds a PhD in finance from UC Berkeley, and noted that he left Bear Stearns in 2007 with $30 million in stock that he liquidated for $400,000 after Bear Stearns collapsed in 2008. “Don’t confuse your compensation with your self-worth.”
Linda Kreitzman, who has been the MFE program’s executive director since its inception 19 years ago, praised the class for raising the standards of the program, which is consistently ranked #1 in the country. “I am very proud of you and your accomplishments,” she said, before welcoming Gifford Fong, BS 67, MBA 69, JD 71, who provided the founding gift for the MFE program, and finance professors David Sraer, Nancy Wallace, Eric Reiner, and Terry Odean, who participated in the ceremony. She also welcomed the incoming cohort of 93 new MFE students, who arrived last week.
Moving beyond yourself
In opening remarks, former Haas Dean Richard Lyons, who teaches the Equity & Currency Markets elective course in the MFE program, said the program has provided students with the skills to move beyond being the outstanding individual contributors they have been trained to be—to team leaders who go beyond themselves.
“That psychological transition from individual contributor to understanding that your most important work is done by working through and other people is profoundly important and that’s part of what this program is about as well,” he said.
The MFE class student speaker, Jack St. Clair, noted how quickly the past year has gone by, saying the class grew close through pizza parties, horse track races, bowling events, football game, trips to Tahoe and Napa, class dinners, and karaoke nights. He urged classmates to remember “the times we’ve spent together, just as we did the formulas we’ve memorized throughout the year.”
“Before we spread out over the globe, let’s not forget this year we’ve had,” he said. “The Berkeley MFE is ranked #1 not just because of Linda and our great faculty, but because we as students give back to each other, past and future MFEs. I ask each of us to do the same when we graduate.”
Before awards were given out, Kreitzman delivered a lighthearted slide show, a showcase of the talents of many students, including a pilot, a professional high-stakes poker player, several outstanding skiers, a mountain biking champion from France, a sailor, a ukulele player, and a songwriter.
This year’s valedictorian was Vaibhav Pednekar, while the salutatorian was Yiming Yu. A team of four students received the $5,000 Morgan Stanley Applied Finance Project Award during the ceremony: Matias Lopez, Sumair Ajanee, Willam Shi, and Laurent Morrissette-Boileau for “Machine Learning Monte Carlo for American: Style Derivatives Valuations.”
Earl Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching: Prof. Eric Reiner
Outstanding GSI Award: Mykyta Bilyi
Alumni award for outstanding teaching and service to the MFE: Yang Guo, Yihui Li, Tianyi Xia
MFE Certificate for MBA Students: Daniel Clayton, Michael Bausback
Beyond Yourself: Julien Gille and Ruochen Zeng
Confidence without Attitude: Teddy Legros and Jack St. Clair
Question the Status Quo: Matias Lopez and Joanna Wang
Students Always: Shailen Aggarwal and Nathan Johnson
Embodiment of All Four Defining principles: Hosang Yoon
Students in the graduating class are moving on to jobs at Morgan Stanley, Citadel, Goldman Sachs, Citi, BlackRock, Two Sigma, Moody’s, Deutsche Bank, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Mellon Capital, Putnam Investments, Citi, Barclay’s, DV Energy, DRW, Uber, AQR, Wells Fargo, WorldQuant, etc., in locations including Hong Kong, New York, Chicago, London, and San Francisco.
New class arrives
Meanwhile, the MFE class of 2020 arrived last week at Haas for orientation and began classes today. This year’s larger class is split into a blue cohort, which is a data science in finance specialization, and a gold cohort, which is a finance specialization for financial engineers.
Students in the incoming class come from 11 countries, including the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, India, Peru, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand. About half of them have graduate degrees and 12 percent earned PhDs.