They are 99 graduates who hailed from 29 countries. They spent 12 — or 18 — months studying finance theory and practice. They bonded for countless hours over MIT coursework, study tours, and a few leisure activities.
But, at the end of the demanding MIT Sloan Master of Finance Program, there were just two messages finance senior lecturer Mark Kritzman implored the 2018 graduates to take in: Be honest and treat other people well.
“You will meet many important people, but you will also meet many people who will not have achieved a lofty professional or social station. My message to you is to treat everyone the same — which is with dignity, respect, and kindness,” Kritzman said at the annual Master of Finance convocation ceremony in Cambridge June 7.
A powerful force for good
Kritzman, who is president and CEO of Windham Capital Management, LLC, also told graduates that “being trustworthy is a huge part of your human capital, alongside your intellect, your training, and your brand.”
Kindness and trustworthiness will bolster the graduates’ status as part of MIT, which is a global institution that seeks to make the entire world a better place, Kritzman said. “Finance is a powerful force for good,” he said. “Like in all professions, some people in finance have misbehaved, but the overwhelming preponderance of financial professionals work honorably every day to make the world a better place.”
Specifically, MIT’s Master of Finance program, which, at 10 years old, is still a relatively young program, will create the “next generation of principled, innovative leaders,” said MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein.
“Be proud of what you have accomplished. You have impressed an incredible MIT faculty in finance,” Schmittlein told the class.
Collectively change the world
Class speaker Lukas Kamphausen, MFin ’18, remembered his awe and excitement after he was accepted into the program last spring. One year later, Kamphausen is still awed, but was humbled after he recently met a young Syrian refugee — a 14-year-old girl — who asked him, “How did you get into MIT? What was it in your life that has made the difference?” Kamphausen said he couldn’t give her an answer. And, he’s still thinking about it.
“Well, if we really reflect honestly on our lives … Most of us were born and raised in stable macroeconomic environments, where we didn’t have to work for housing or food and could fully concentrate on our studies. If only one of these aspects had fallen apart, I would not be here today,” Kamphausen said.
“Now, you may be asking yourself: ‘Can I really change the world?’ Well, individually, we probably can’t. But this is why we have each other,” Kamphausen said. “Let us really try to collectively change this world for the better.”
Kamphausen won an appreciation award for promoting the Master of Finance program, and Andrei Florin Cretu, MFin ’19, won an award for enriching the experience, and Saeed Al Jaberi, MFin ’19, was honored for building a cross-program community.
Heidi Pickett, assistant dean of the Master of Finance program, also honored Michel Cassard, Gaosheng Chen, Tianshu Lyu, and Eugénie Schwob, all MFin ’18, for completing a finance concentration in addition to their degree.