Smith student Philip Peker ’18 writes about the Emerging CFOs Fellows program for undergraduate business students. Philip is a marketing major with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship at the at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
For senior finance and accounting double major student Jessica Martins, the Emerging CFOs program has been transformational. “The classes feel more personal and the professors have such a strong connection to the program," she said. She further stated that it was hard to pinpoint exactly what makes the program so special, but added the main reason was “this desire to help their students grow and excel in their professional futures.”
If you’re a finance student at Smith, you have many roads to take when deciding what concentration you want to be. The finance department offers seven different Finance Fellows programs, each providing unique learning opportunities.
For Clinical Professor Susan White, teaching is not just a job, but a lifelong passion and the Emerging CFOs Fellows program is her main love. She is the Emerging CFOs faculty champion and the faculty chair for all the Finance Fellows programs.
As one of the first three Fellows programs to be established ten years ago, the Emerging CFOs program focuses on building corporate finance skills - both theoretical but especially applied. Besides digging into the mechanics of corporate finance and investment banking, students consult real-world clients and compete in unique case competitions. And what better mentor to have than Dr. White, whose research focus is case study research. “I write the case studies for the Emerging CFOs competitions. The Joseph Wikler Finance competition case and many of my cases have been published in case journals, including Harvard Business School’s,” says Dr. White. This past spring, Dr. White and her finance department colleague Karen Hallows were awarded the prestigious Jonathan Welch Award for the best finance, accounting or economics case at an international conference.
While most finance students take BMGT440 Financial Management, Emerging CFOs Fellows take the Fellows section of Financial Management. Along with their small cohort of select Fellows, their study delves more deeply into the material and gives them the opportunity to apply classroom concepts via in-class case competitions. Prizes are often cash awards -- not “just” good grades.
The case competitions are a big part of what provides this program with an experiential edge. White explained: “For example, last year, the VP of Mergers and Acquisitions at Leidos, the IT division of Lockheed Martin, was one of the panelists for the case competition in which students prepared a case to analyze the actual M&A of Leidos and Lockheed Martin. The judges were very straightforward with the feedback. Clients in the real world will tell you what they think of a presented analysis, and so students should get used to this early on.”
Another important aspect of the program are the simulations. “We do two Harvard simulations with each cohort. One of the simulations was a capital rationing and budgeting problem, and the other one is an M&A for Wine Country,” said Dr. White. Working in groups, students act as decision-making agents on behalf of parties in the deal and go through a rigorous simulation of how mergers and acquisitions and budget planning negotiations are conducted in the real world.
Thinking about her future, Jessica added, “This program has allowed me to recognize my strengths and take what I've learned in the classroom and apply it. Through the case competitions, company visits, and networking events, I've had the opportunity to meet professionals in the field of finance that have given me advice for discovering a career path that interests me and best matches the skills that I have gained through the program so far.”
Graduates of the program have gone on to hold high positions at companies like J.P. Morgan, Deloitte, and Capital One. For many, having the experiential expertise that the Fellows program provided allowed them to secure coveted positions upon graduation from Smith.
Interested in learning more about the Smith Fellows Programs?