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For Master of Finance grads, five traits for career and life

At a convocation ceremony, distilling MIT lessons and remembering Professor Stephen Ross.

By Amy MacMillan Bankson  |  June 9, 2017

2017-Xie

Tessa Xie, class speaker

Rigorous finance training offers five traits that are also useful in everyday life, said MIT Sloan professor Deborah Lucas. The best investors: 

  • See the world as it is, rather than as they want it to be.
  • Understand that risk must be managed, and cannot be ignored.
  • Learn from opposing points of view and a variety of perspectives.
  • Look beyond conventional wisdom.
  • Reverse their positions, if proven wrong. 

“Looking back, those are the lessons that make me feel so personally lucky for [being] in finance,” Lucas told the 114 graduates of the Master of Finance Class of 2017 at a convocation ceremony in Cambridge, MA, on June 8.

Lucas, the founding director of the MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy, said MIT stands out because of its “unapologetic dedication to its ambition to change the world for the better.”

Dean David Schmittlein also praised MIT’s finance tradition, which has “refused to make a trade-off between being smart and having impact.” With MIT’s legacy of finance, “It is our commitment to the world to bring the best of finance … and the best of finance today is you,” he told the graduating class.

Support system
Class speaker Tessa Xie, MFin ’17, told her classmates that the demanding program — which can be completed in either 12 or 18 months — seemed short, but didn’t lack for challenges.

“We couldn’t have made it without each other’s help,” she said. “This is about the journey we took together as a group.”

Xie said the MIT Sloan Master of Finance program has taught her and her classmates valuable skills that will give them an edge when they will have to “compete with the machines that will eventually replace a lot of traditional finance jobs.”

2017-MFin-students Master of Finance students at convocation 

Achievement awards
Master of Finance Director Heidi V. Pickett acknowledged the students from both the classes of 2017 and 2018 who made a significant impact during their time at MIT Sloan. Faaez Zafar, MFin ’17, was honored for “creating an open and welcoming community;” Lily Yi Qi Tan, MFin ’18, was acknowledged for “strengthening the MFin brand;” Gurjyot Singh Nanda, MFin ’17, was lauded for “fostering communication” among classmates, and two students, Ryan Youngjoon Yi, MFin ’18, and Khashayar Hejazi, MFin, ’18, were recognized for creating a tracker app for classmates to stay in touch with one another following graduation.

Lasting memories
The ceremony featured a student-created photo montage that highlighted the past year’s highs and lows and was dedicated to professor Stephen Ross who died suddenly in March. In her remarks, Lucas said Ross was “loved and admired by his family, colleagues in academia and the investment community, and by his students.”

Lucas summed up some remarks that she attributed to Ross from when he spoke at a gathering of doctoral students several years ago: Don’t do something because you think you should or because someone tells you to; do what moves you.

“That’s how professor Ross lived his life, and it appears to have been a very happy and successful one,” Lucas said. “So, I hope you take his advice to heart as you embark on this exciting next phase of your life.”