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March 17, 2009

A Finance Career With Balance

Catherine New
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When Jackie Endriss Oberoi ’04 arrived at Columbia Business School in the fall of 2002, she knew she wanted to move from human resource consulting into finance. She accomplished the career transition and is now an associate director and credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s. Public Offering spoke with her about the unexpected perks of working in industry finance.

What has been your path since graduation?
I took advantage of the School’s internship program and came to Standard & Poor’s in the summer of 2003. I came back to S&P after graduation. I have changed roles within the company — I am now in corporate ratings and rating retail companies. Even though I have stayed with the same company, changing positions has allowed my career to stay fresh.

How has your MBA experience shaped where you are today?
I came to CBS as a career-changer. I was in human resources consulting and had no financial background when I came to the School, but I knew I wanted to do something more quantitative. The finance classes were quite strong; I was impressed with the finance and capital markets courses in my second year, when I focused my studies. The excellent faculty and high quality of the students made the courses more discussion-oriented than lecture-oriented and contributed to the overall experience.

What helped you make the career change?
The key is parlaying your skills from your former industry into a new one. For me, I focused on how my presentation and communication skills were relevant to a career in finance. In this economy, people really have to push their strengths from their former career and explain how they can be applied.

Now that you are working in finance, have your expectations been met? What has been totally unexpected?
My expectations coming into S&P were met fully — this company is very transparent. I have found a challenging work environment with interesting people and a daily schedule that lacks monotony. There is a lot of flexibility in my career. With telecommuting and flexible hours, I was able to take a six-month maternity leave. Most nights, I can leave at 5:30 p.m. I can spend time with my family and excel at my job at the same time. That was unexpected. S&P is very family-friendly.

Where are the opportunities for people just starting their careers in finance?
My advice is to broaden your expectations — think about doing finance in industry or in-house and then you can move to an investment bank when the economy improves. This doesn’t just apply to students, but also to people who have lost their jobs.

What’s your advice to current MBA students?
Lean heavily on your network of other students. Build your network while you are at the School. You can learn so much from other students, so learn everything you can from the people you’re in contact with. The people you work with after you leave the School might not be as interesting and as diverse.

This column is part of our Next Steps series, which profiles alumni in their first five years after Columbia Business School. Do you know someone we should write about? Let us know about other candidates.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Endriss Oberoi