M.Fin. Class of 2012 distinguished by Head Prize and Class Gift

Published: June 19, 2012

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Society now has a new group of principled and innovative leaders who will improve the world – MIT Sloan’s distinguished third class of Master of Finance (M.Fin.) graduates, who gathered at Wong Auditorium on June 7 for the program’s second annual Convocation.

Indeed, the world’s recent financial crises in places and organizations such as Greece, Ireland, Iceland, AIG, and Lehman Brothers could have been avoided. “One thing that all of these had in common was that none of the characters responsible had an MIT M.Fin. degree,” said Professor Leonid Kogan, M.Fin. Faculty Co-Director, to much applause.

Convocation, which was opened by M.Fin. Director Heidi V. Pickett, was also the perfect opportunity for Kogan to do a short addendum to his notably challenging and required Analytics of Finance class (15.450). He briefly discussed “The Greater Fool Theory,” in investing, meaning that it doesn’t matter how much one pays for something, another “fool” is always ready to pay a higher price.

Following the brief “lesson,” Kogan congratulated the graduates on a great start and told them, “It is up to you to build the M.Fin. legacy. The program is only as good as its graduates.”

Faculty speaker and Professor Stewart C. Myers gave a crash course on the seven most important ideas in finance, as well its 10 unsolved problems. “After you spend a year studying finance, it may be nice to think about what we know and don’t know.”

He highlighted the ideas and problems as a way to illustrate that, “Finance is not about number crunching or spreadsheets…it’s about concepts and principles,” he noted.

“If you have got the concepts and principles solidly right, then you are in great shape. If you think you can evade the concepts and principles by doing something smart, either computationally or mathematically, you are just going to trip yourself up…stick to the principles,” he said.

Myers then presented the first-ever “Head Prize,” which was established by alumnus John Head, SB ’71, as a way to recognize the highest-achieving master’s student in Finance at MIT Sloan. The inaugural winner was Yixin Chen, M.Fin. ’12. Chen was chosen by the Head Student Award Committee, comprised solely of MIT Sloan Finance faculty.

MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein, who launched the M.Fin. program in 2009, congratulated the class on completing an “extraordinary program.” He added, “This is a new program, but this is not a new reflection of the greatness of finance and the importance of finance at MIT. It is true, that if modern finance was invented in any one place, it was invented here at MIT.”

Debra Luchanin, M.Fin. Program Manager, then read a list of the names of this year’s 73 graduates. Senior Lecturer John Minahan highlighted the 2012 M.Fin. Achievement Award recipients: Marie-Anne Bazerghi, Johnny Jesson, Rongke (Kevin) Lin, Rodolfo Lazo, Nathan Morris, and Antoni Muhawi.

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