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

June 19, 2012

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.

Jason Kamosi, M.Fin. ’12, served as the class speaker, and he recalled the program’s hectic first days for the students, which included a substantial workload. “We would email faculty at 1 a.m., only to have them write back at 2 a.m. It was as if no one on this campus slept! Today, we can give ourselves a pat on the back that we made it,” he said, of the one-year program.

Kamosi noted that MIT Sloan aspires to educate “ideal managers.” He added, “With the help of this program, you have the power to change the world, and a pedigree that will remind you of it. There are no limits to what we can accomplish.”

The Convocation was also made special by the presentation of the first-ever M.Fin. class gift, a collective contribution of $8,646, which was announced by Marie-Anne Bazerghi, member of the class gift committee. “This gift signifies the dedication of this class,” she said.

The class’s dedication—and spirit—was on display in a thoughtfully-crafted, musical photo montage that was displayed following Bazerghi’s remarks.

Lastly, Kogan presented Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates with a gift and acknowledgement of her role in the early stages and success of the M.Fin. Program. She gratefully accepted the gift and said, “I’ve been very impressed with how each M.Fin. class has built on what has come before. Each class has built a legacy…and I am impressed with all of you.”

Yates encouraged M.Fin. graduates to return to MIT Sloan in any capacity, and to build upon the network they have established with other MIT and MIT Sloan alumni. “You want to cultivate that network. That’s a really valuable asset for you,” she said.