How an MBA Can Open New Doors in Finance
Benjamin Westcott, MBA '15
Kim Karstetter Hernandez, PMBA '04
After working for several years in hospitality management for a Missouri-based hotel company, Ben Westcott (MBA, ’15; senior associate overseeing mergers and acquisitions at ValueScope, Inc.) was ready to refocus his career on financial services.
Westcott had majored in finance as an undergrad, and added valuable experience in general management, budgeting, sales and staffing. Still, he knew he needed a jump start to make the transition, and looked to TCU MBA as the platform to do so.
“Finance is an industry that can be hard to break into. But, generally, once you’re in, you’re in,” he says. “An MBA gives you the opportunity to not only develop the understanding and skills necessary to succeed in finance, but to also make the connections necessary to break into the industry.”
Kim Karstetter Hernandez (Professional MBA, ’04) says that when she first arrived at the Neeley School of Business she thought her future lay in sports management. What inspired her to pursue a concentration in finance? Once she began her MBA, she discovered that her professional background in the health sciences was more relevant to her new calling than she first imagined.
“In practicing sports medicine, you have to quickly be able to assess an injury and come up with a treatment plan,” she says. “I soon learned that being able to do so translates well to business settings, and it proved to be a great skill to have.”
Going from conducting orthopedic examinations to landing a vice presidency at Goldman Sachs may seem like a stretch, but Kim’s experience at TCU allowed her to connect those dots. Though she graduated more than a decade ago, she’s remained involved with Neeley and its programs, even working closely with the Graduate Career Center to create opportunities for TCU MBA students to meet with Goldman Sachs senior executives in the company’s New York office. She’s now a VP at CCBS Holdings and also serves as the national representative to Neeley’s extensive — and very active — Alumni Executive Board.
She credits Neeley’s unique curriculum with providing her a broad yet robust education. “From book knowledge to group projects, to working with real companies on real problems, at Neeley you get a broad scope of knowledge that you can use to go deeper into and rise higher in any career in finance.”
Ben reports a similar experience. “It’s one thing to learn financial theories and concepts, it’s a completely different thing to apply that in real-world situations,” he says. “TCU offers the opportunity to apply what you learn in hands-on settings. Probably the No. 1 reason I chose TCU was the program’s focus on experiential learning.”
For Ben, that meant applying for and gaining acceptance to the school’s Educational Investment Fund (EIF) program, where he learned to make decisions when nearly $1.4 million in equity was on the line. It also meant getting involved with Neeley & Associates, TCU’s student-run consulting firm. Ben collaborated with senior management at Frito-Lay and, along with other members of his team, eventually presented a set of recommendations on how to increase the profitability of its healthy snacks division to the company’s CFO.
Beyond its intrinsic value, Ben appreciates the practical benefits he accrued thanks to his work with Neeley & Associates. “Being able to sit in an interview and tell the hiring manager you have presented to the CFO of one of the largest companies in its industry, and that your recommendations were actually implemented, is not something a lot of MBAs can compete with.”
Learn more about how an MBA from TCU can make you stand out among other job candidates in the growing and lucrative field of finance by visiting the Neeley School of Business School website.