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Master of Finance class celebrates at convocation

MIT Sloan’s fifth Master of Finance class completes its year on campus and looks ahead

June 6, 2014

Master of Finance graduates Alexandra Smith, Amrit Malothra, and Miraj Hossain celebrate at convocation

Master of Finance graduates Alexandra Smith, Amrit Malothra, and Miraj Hossain celebrate at convocation

Go fast or go far?

That was the question Master of Finance student Jason Yum quietly asked himself during the program’s team-building orientation last summer.

Alongside two of his classmates, he was 15 feet up a swaying ladder of planks and chains, and the goal was to climb the apparatus as fast as possible. Yum remembered hanging from the second plank, mid-air, when he realized, “I can’t get up this thing.”

One of his new MFin classmates reached out a hand. “I was surprised. I didn’t ask [him] to pull me up … but I grabbed on and he pulled me up,” Yum told his audience of fellow graduates and their families at the Class of 2014 convocation June 5 at the Boston Marriott Cambridge.

Yum, the convocation student speaker, was reminded of the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go together.”

The MFin Class of 2014, numbering 126 graduates, finished the rigorous program together as a class.

   Graduates Maxime Attal, Anass Afilal, and Nicolas Lejeune at the Master of Finance convocation ceremonyGraduates Maxime Attal, Anass Afilal, and Nicolas Lejeune at the Master of Finance convocation ceremony

Dean David Schmittlein commended the graduates. “You survived, but you did more than that,” he told them. “We are very proud of the faculty who set such high standards for the participants in this program. You, as graduates, should know, you did more than survive a very tough program. You impressed [MIT Sloan’s] world-leading faculty in finance with your insight, with your dedication, and with your coming together as a community. You have a lot to be proud of.”

Several members of the class were formally recognized for that commitment and their willingness to help others succeed. Program Director Heidi V. Pickett announced the Achievement Award winners, which included students who voluntarily tutored their classmates (Paula Cocoma Ricuarte, Natan Goldberger, Juan Pablo Solorzano Margain, and David Zhang); encouraged participation and team spirit (Mira Assaf, Chen Hu, and Chandler Wang); organized an information session in Denmark (Rasmus Kastoft-Christensen); helped to build collaboration across the MIT Sloan community (David Liu); and showed “superior dedication, knowledge, and integrity” (Natan Goldberger).

“These are the students who went above and beyond to make a positive contribution, enhancing the experience for everyone around them,” Pickett said.

MFin faculty director Jiang Wang, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor, who has been instrumental in the program’s evolution, acknowledged the challenges of the intense yearlong program. In spite of this, “You all managed exceptionally well,” he said. “This is not a path for the ordinary. Your accomplishments have proven what this program aims for—to attract the best and to turn out the best.”

Faculty speaker John C. Cox, the Nomura Professor of Finance, spoke of the ongoing innovation in the financial markets that the Class of 2014 will likely encounter in their careers. He cited the democratization of finance, the expansion of basic financial services, such as microfinance, and the emergence of better ways to manage risk. There are also plenty of potential trials ahead, he said.

“It’s hard to know when the right time will be for any particular new idea. Innovating isn’t easy. It takes persistence and hard work … but the rewards to successful innovation can be enormous. I hope that some of you will find that success,” Cox said.

Furthermore, Cox told the graduates to be proud of their profession. “You’re in a field where people can do well for themselves, while doing good for others.”

In that spirit, graduates Mira Assaf and Chen Hu, of the MFin 2014 Class Gift Committee, presented a gift of $6,815, which will go toward the MIT Sloan Annual Fund.

The ceremony also included a photo montage highlighting moments from the past year and featured a clip of the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett, who recorded a special message for the Master of Finance Class of 2014: “Buy low and sell high.”