By Lise Wagnac
As liberal arts students, Mawrters are constantly being challenged in the classroom to find the broader picture and develop analytical skills that will serve them well in the future. In addition to the academic work, Bryn Mawr provides students with opportunities to build a professional network for themselves as they continue their journey as undergrads and alumnae. These opportunities, such as the Certificate in Finance program last spring, are given in the form of workshops held during the school year, and will be continued this fall.
During spring break of last semester, the Certificate in Finance course was held on Bryn Mawr’s campus. The program was sponsored by the Bryn Mawr Treasury Office and made open to undergrads and graduate students of the school of Social Work. The program was a week-long course of study designed to expose students to the world of capital structure, risk, financial instruments, stocks, and bonds. The curriculum included classes in the principles of finance; analysis of case studies led by Wharton School faculty member-Meredith Myers; and communication, networking, and interview skill-building sessions.
The course consisted of interactive presentations and networking sessions led by financial professionals from several firms including the Public Financial Management (PFM) Group, Bank of America, Vanguard, Cambridge Associates. There was also a networking event with Bryn Mawr alumnae whom represented a range of professional experiences.
In between presentations, students were given the opportunity to network with Bryn Mawr alumnae over lunch. Among the alumnae to take part were Fay Donahue ‘72, CEO of Delta Dental; Carol Pepper ’84, CEO of Pepper International LLC; and alumnae in senior positions at Goldman Sachs, Pershing Square, and other financial-services firms.
Within the first day of the program, students were bombarded with topics like, “Fundamentals of Public Finance,” analyzing yield curves for municipal bonds, and annuities. By midweek, they were able to use the basic information they learned on the first day of class to look over financial statements and companies’ finances as part of a case study – they needed to decide whether a company should buy back its stocks to fend off a hostile takeover or allow for the takeover to occur while being able to keep the companies’ traditional advisory practices. Discussion proved to be invaluable as they all learned a little bit about their abilities as liberal arts students to use the information they had learned at the beginning of the week to construct a solution for the problem.
The program’s participants had several reasons for signing up for the course, ranging from finance to education. Students from majors like Economics, Math, Chemistry, Psychology, Anthropology, and many others were highly represented. In addition to the basic Finance topics that were covered, students were able to learn basics of how to get their foot in the door of the professional world, such as preparing and navigating through the interview process, networking, public speaking, and understanding corporate culture.
“It is critical that young women interested in a career in finance hear from alumnae who have been working in the field,” said Pepper. “This field is still extremely challenging for women — making the right choices in terms of what area of finance to focus on can make all the difference between success and failure.”
The program will be offered again next spring, in addition to an Entrepreneurial Workshop to be held this fall break from Oct. 14-15. There, students will have the chance to create a business plan and the financials to support it, develop a marketing plan, learn about Ownership and Control, and learn about the Dos and Don’ts of the Investor Pitch.
The Entrepreneurial Workshop will be run by a team of Managing Directors from Golden Seeds, a New York based investor group that provides early stage capital to women entrepreneurs. Instructors bring extensive expertise in finance, marketing and angel investing. For more information concerning this program and many others contact Sydney Coppola in the Office of the Treasurer.