Archive for IFEP

Why I chose International Finance and Economic Policy as a Concentration

When I was looking at graduate schools initially, I knew I wanted to focus on my three interests: women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and finance. It was very important for me that I found a school that allowed me to pursue all three. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration was ideal in that it provided me with coursework in both finance and economics.

My first year courses included macroeconomics and microeconomics, as well as corporate finance and international capital markets. All of which gave me a strong background in financial and economic policy and allowed me to apply the skills I learned in the classroom in a real world context. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration is also ideal in that it has three separate tracks: International Finance, International Economic Policy, and Central Banking. This meant that I could tailor my coursework to focus specifically on international finance.

I chose the International Finance track because I knew that my interest in promoting women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship required that I have knowledge of accounting, corporate finance, as well as emerging financial markets. Additionally, the International Finance and Economic Policy concentration had a global focus, which allowed me to look at financial systems and economies on an international scale. This was very important to me considering that my main interest is to help women entrepreneurs and 51% of SME’s globally are owned and operated by women. Additionally, my specialization in Gender and Public Policy was a great way for me to combine my interests in both finance and gender. Much of the work that I did in my IFEP classes served me well in my gender classes, particularly in the realm of evaluating economic and financial systems through a gender lens.

Photo Source: Carol M. HighsmithPublic Domain

Seeples Spotlight: Qiuyuan Huang

Qiuyuan Huang is currently a second-year MPA student at SIPA. She graduated from Peking University in China in 2015 with a dual degree in Finance and International Relations. During college, Qiuyuan once interned with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a research assistant, where she did political risk analysis for overseas investment. She has also been the research assistant to Prof. Jong-Wha Lee, Former Chief Economist of Asian Development Bank, in the summer of 2014. She researched on the development of Renminbi Internationalization, China’s government public expenditure on human capital, and reviewed policy analysis of BRICS Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. After joining SIPA, Qiuyuan further developed her interest in macro-economic policy through courses and researches. During the summer, she interned with the S&P Global Ratings, one of the top rating agencies in the world.

[please note this Q&A has not been edited]

What’s your summer internship experience been like?
I have been interned with S&P Global Rating during the whole summer. I worked as summer associate in the global economics and research team. My primary job is to research on U.S. macroeconomics and wrote reports and interpretations on economic indicators for weekly publications and quarterly forecasting. I performed statistical computing and smoothing techniques to analyze and display economic and financial market trends.  Besides doing research and writing reports, I presented research findings to senior economist and chief economist at S&P. Being able to present to these economists is exciting but also stressful. Usually they would ask a lot of questions during my presentation, so I need to be fully prepared and clear about every point I am talking about.

How has the internship prepare you for the future career?
This internship is definitely a challenging one and I have learned a lot from it. I have covered various economic topics, including U.S. business cycles, infrastructure investment, minimum wage, income inequality, corporate repatriation tax, etc. My supervisor is a senior economist and he gave me instruction and advice on my research topic and methods. I have always been interested in macro-economic policy and political risk, and working in a rating agency is among my top career choices. This internship has given me hands-on experience in S&P and I really my time here. I am still interning with S&P for the fall semester, working two days a week. For now I am not sure whether I could get a full-time offer at S&P, but I am actively seeking for opportunities.

How did you obtain your internship?
This internship position is posted on the SIPAlink, and I  submitted my CV through the portal.  After that I took three rounds of intense interviews and was luck enough to pass them. I thinks SIPAlink is a good place for internship hunting. There positions posted are relevant and most of employers may have some corporation with Office of Career Office, so SIPA students could get some advantages applying through SIPA link.

What are your goals for the second year?
There are many books I plan to read. Most of them are about economics, political science and American culture. Also I would like to know more people here at SIPA. The first year went by so quickly and I felt I didn’t spend enough time getting to know more people. SIPA students came in from various backgrounds with exiting stories. So during the second year, I would like to attend more events and make more friends here. Besides, I decide to further develop my quantitative skills through classes.

What is one course that you particularly recommend?
One of the courses I would like to recommend is Asian Financial Market, This course focuses on financial crisis in Asian countries, mainly ASEAN-10, Japan, Korea, China, and India. It gave an overview of history, status quo and future prospects of the financial markets in Asia. We also analyzed economic and financial policies in Asia. I think this course would be really helpful to those interested in Asia financial market. You could have an better idea about what is going on now, and what to expect for the future after studying what happened in history.

[Photo courtesy of Quiyuan Huang]

what I did this summer

Internship in Country Risk Management at J.P. Morgan

Prior to attending SIPA my experience was in banking; however the reason I chose SIPA for my graduate studies was to transition into a role that offers more of a macro and international picture, allowing me to work in a field where macroeconomics, capital markets, and risk meet and of course a role where I am challenged every day and get to learn and apply my skills. I had the chance to work in Country Risk Management (CRM) at J.P. Morgan during the summer. It all started with three representatives visiting SIPA to host an information session in the fall of 2013. What followed was an application process, consisting of four phone and four in person interviews.  I consider myself fortunate that I received the opportunity to be a part of the team and the culture at the bank, because this is a dream job for a SIPA student. It was a 10 week internship, starting in June with a couple of weeks of training. The first week I was part of the Sales & Trading (S&T) Markets Training group, where about 100 interns were trained on basics, such as what is equity, what is a bond through how markets are supposed to behave to how financial derivatives fit into the bank. The second week, I took part in a more risk specific training to be prepared for my eight weeks at the desk. Before the training weeks were completed, students were formed into groups of four to prepare a case study to competitively pitch to senior management.

After some valuable training I was excited to finally join my CRM team and to apply my skills learnt and advanced at SIPA. The team in CRM was relatively small on a global basis and therefore I had a chance to work closely with colleagues also based in London and Hong Kong. The eight weeks were packed and I had several deliverables on top of assisting with ad-hoc tasks. However, it was a super learning experience and with the great support of the team I was able to master my objectives successfully. My summer objectives were based around the main work the team does, such as internal ratings of countries and measuring the exposure risk the bank experienced.

The summer program was well structured. Each intern had a junior and senior mentor, who assisted the intern throughout the summer. Throughout the program there were also different social and professional events. Social events consisted of visiting a New York Yankee game and having dinner at different places. The professional events included senior speaker series with management from the bank. These were all very interesting; however I would say the highlight was when Jamie Dimon spoke to us and shared his experiences in banking and at J.P. Morgan.

My summer experience at the bank has been wonderful and it was great to meet so many professionals with whom I look forward to staying in touch and working together in the future. It may be the fall semester only; however the sooner you start looking for your dream internship, the higher the chances that you will be working there during the following summer. Good luck!

 

by Andreas Maerki, MPA International Finance and Economic Policy Dec ‘14

 

Professor Goldberg’s Financial Services Sector in the 21st Century: Final Case Presentations at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York

I had the pleasure of taking Professor Richard Goldberg’s course, Global Financial Services Sector in the 21st Century, during the fall semester of 2013. It was a valuable experience to learn from a 25-year Wall Street veteran who has covered the financial sector for international M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) and worked at various global banks.  Professor Goldberg is actively involved with the Columbia University community in general, and particularly with the IFEP concentration.

The  course  provided  a  framework  within  which students  could  evaluate  and  understand  the  global  financial services industry.  In class, we explored perspectives such as the current and future roles of the major financial services participants, key driver s influencing an industry that has always been characterized by significant change, and strategic challenges and opportunities facing today’s

financial services CEOs. That said, this course is tailored so that students with various backgrounds can follow and appreciate all of the materials read and discussed. The assigned readings were current, applicable to today’s financial markets, and focused on what was important.

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In particular, Professor Goldberg’s course taught how a SIPA student might look at global financial institutions from a different perspective, focusing more on global macroeconomic and political risk over just simple returns. For example, we learned about how regulatory changes in the capital markets could affect the global strategy of a financial institution, and how a supermarket  approach may  be  of  benefit  to  one  institution  but  a  boutique  approach  might  be  better  for  another,  depending  on  a  financial  institution’s strengths. Understanding the dynamics of policy and financial markets is a valuable proficiency that this course teaches.

Clearly, the guest speakers (from banks and asset managers) and the two presentations were the highlights of the course. For example: For the final case study, we divided our class into teams. Each group recommended specific strategies to senior management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch New York headquarters that could potentially strengthen the bank’s position in the financial markets. Senior executives provided feedback to all teams on how our suggestions would or would not be feasible in the current marketplace.

This live presentation to professionals was a unique experience, especially for students who have not worked much prior to attending SIPA. The skills acquired in this course will serve students well in several sectors; however, it’s tailored for careers in finance, banking, management consulting, and policy-making. I encourage students with various backgrounds to take Richard Goldberg’s course, because it teaches rich information, offers great opportunities, and is entertaining.

Posted by Andreas Maerki, MPA ’14, IFEP

In need of a retreat?

Each year, at the beginning of the fall semester, is what we here at SIPA like to call “retreat season”. Each concentration and specialization organizes a weekend-long retreat for students throughout the month of September. The retreat is an opportunity for first and second year students to get better acquainted in a fun and engaging environment. Students are able to share experiences and knowledge, such as the “do’s and don’ts” of SIPA student and academic life. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for students to get to know faculty members and professors in a less formal way.

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International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) Retreat

Over 80 IFEP students attended the annual retreat in September held at Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, New York. After traveling for two hours by bus, students arrived and had lunch together. Shortly after, Professor Richard Goldberg led an interactive discussion about the financial crisis with students. Professor Andrea Bubula, the IFEP Executive Director, also attended the retreat and gave students an overview of the concentration and its competitive advantages in the current job market. The rest of the afternoon was spent with students playing tennis and basketball at the camp. In the evening students enjoyed dinner followed by a dance party. Despite the near freezing temperatures, students enjoyed this opportunity to get to know each other and learn more about the IFEP concentration.

Energy and Environment (EE) Retreat

On the 28th of September, the EE concentration had its yearly retreat in the wonderful Kinder Camp as well. This was a great chance to escape from the city and enjoy a nice autumn landscape, lake included, but also a fantastic opportunity to get to know the new members of our SIPA community beyond the Columbia campus. There were several fun outdoor activities including the hilarious build and the what’s your shoe size/eye color grouping game. At one point, even some brave Seeples dived into the lake! The trip couldn’t be complete without a bonfire and s’mores, which of course quickly turned into a party that many will remember for the musical variety (yes, someone played reggaeton).

International Conflict Resolution (ICR) Retreat

The International Conflict Resolution retreat brought together 25 SIPA students as well as faculty and guest speakers for a weekend of inspiration and recreation. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice and International Conflict Resolution specialization director Jean-Marie Guéhenno kicked off discussion on Syria, supported by adjunct faculty member Richard Gowan. Guest speakers David Haeri (MIA, 1997) and Sarah Cliffe (MIA, 1996), both senior United Nations officials in New York, shared insights on the field of conflict resolution and inspired students with their personal stories and experiences. The retreat closed with a conflict type exercise, where students assessed their personal approach to conflict using role play to demonstrate reactions under a variety of scenarios, both calm and stressful. In addition to some self-discovery, canoeing, and a lakeside bonfire, students left the retreat with new friendships and some intellectual stimulation to help them embark upon the new semester.

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"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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