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Queens MSFA Students Connect with Charlotte’s Finance Leaders

Feb 12, 2024 By Queens University Communications

Graduate students enrolled in the Master of Science in Finance and Analytics (MSFA) program recently attended a two-day excursion in the heart of Charlotte’s financial district as part of the spring Residency. The MSFA program, which began in the fall semester of 2023, is offered through Queens’ McColl School of Business and is designed to significantly contribute to the professional readiness of students, equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in their future careers.  

The first day of MSFA Residency included afternoon Executive in Residence sessions at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on East Trade Street. Located in Uptown Charlotte, the Federal Reserve Bank is about three miles from the Queens campus and is 1 of 12 regional banks working together with the national Board of Governors to strengthen the nation’s economy. By conducting monetary policy and working to ensure a safe and sound financial system by providing tools and resources, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond helps the community make informed financial decisions. 

“I often describe the MSFA program by saying it is a place where finance, analytics, and storytelling meet. An important part of the MSFA is our Executive in Residence program. Here, students participate in intimate roundtable discussions with experienced professionals and talk about topics that can range from very specific things like quantitative finance to more general topics like networking, leadership skills, and best practices,” said Katerina Ivanov, Ph.D., director of Master of Science in Finance and Analytics program. “Students are encouraged to ask questions which often leads to thoughtful conversations in which our guests share personal stories about the lessons they’ve learned throughout their career. Understanding the dynamics of industry evolution is vital for future professionals navigating a rapidly changing business landscape.” 

Kristina Reid, Executive Director, CFO Transformation at Ally Financial, spoke with students about strategic transformation and the issues an organization must consider while implementing change such as reengineering, digital transformation, and storytelling to ensure success.  

“Participating in an activity like this gives students a practical approach to what they are learning and it’s helpful for them to hear about market trends in different organizations from people who are actively involved in these processes,” said Reid. “Charlotte is a great place for students to learn about transformation. It is constantly evolving and has changed incredibly in terms of the breadth of the footprint of the city and the focus around fintech, AI, and innovation in general.” 

Students also interacted with executives from the Federal Reserve. Richard Westerkamp, senior vice president at Federal Reserve System, and Charles Wallace, assistant vice president in quantitative supervision and research in the supervision, regulation, and credit department, provided students with a unique opportunity to delve into discussions about mandates and banking supervision, offering a firsthand understanding of regulatory aspects within the financial sector.  

“I think it’s important for students to understand what the Federal Reserve actually does outside the headlines with monetary policy. In addition to explaining our role to students, we participate in events like the Executive in Residence program because it’s a great way to market ourselves to young and upcoming graduates. We’re always looking to recruit the next generation of the brightest and best talent in the city,” said Westerkamp. “Charlotte is a high-growth city and it’s always impressive how well this town adapts to change. I’m looking forward to how the city and region will continue to flourish in the future.” 

“Through the MSFA program, I’ve learned about AI and machine learning which is an emerging topic in today’s financial world. Having the opportunity to meet with industry leaders, especially at the Federal Reserve, has provided myself and my classmates with a lot of useful information about regulation and government,” said student Alvaro Saez-Royuela Ariza MSFA ’25.  

On the second day of the MSFA Residency, students visited Ally Financial where they participated in mock interviews with industry professionals across Charlotte financial sector. They also heard a lecture from Paul Joyce, executive director of the Executive Leadership Institute at Queens University. During this session, they learned the principles, approaches, and practices to format deliverables in a way that captures attention and supports the delivery of important information and messages. 

“The MFSA program teaches students a mix of basic financial knowledge as well as the skills to analyze the data behind it which is something we can utilize in the workplace,’ said Anna DeBoer ‘22, MSFA ’25. “In our classes, we explore case studies and real data giving us a glimpse of what’s really happening in the industry. Queens’ collaboration with the Charlotte business community gives us the hands-on training that’s needed in the real world. The connections I made during my internship while I was an undergrad helped me secure a full-time position. I’m really grateful for my time at Queens.” 

To learn more, visit the MSFA program webpage