Columbia Business School offers more than a leading MBA program, as Rafael Ferreira, CBS MSFE ’19, highlights in this Real Humans: Alumni. Rafael digs into the benefits of studying at CBS and how his Master of Science in Financial Economics helped him land a role at Google. Read on for his story.
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Columbia Business School, 2019, Master of Science in Financial Economics (MSFE)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2 years, Technology
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Morgan Stanley and Google
Why did you choose to attend business school?
My main intention when deciding to attend business school was to join my technology and engineering backgrounds with business and finance. In the long term, I plan to be an entrepreneur to try to solve real world problems with technology. Since I am passionate not only about technology, but also finance, I felt like adding a graduate degree focused on finance would add much value to my previous undergrad in engineering.
Why CBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The MS in Financial Economics at Columbia Business School is a unique program that allows students to take two years of heavy PhD classes in finance and economics. This is what mainly brought me to Columbia — I wanted to have an intense academic experience, but still be able to benefit from a business school environment, which provides plenty of networking opportunities and personal/professional growth.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
My master’s program was very technical and quantitative. We had many classes with a heavy focus on statistics, programming and mathematics, which all contributed to my work at Morgan Stanley as a data scientist and Google as a software engineer. In addition, the MSFE experience in New York allows you to network with several people from industry. It was in one of those networking sessions that I got to know the job opening at Morgan Stanley and led me to apply for that job.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I had two internships during business school. First, I worked from Sao Paulo as an M&A associate in the largest investment boutique in Brazil. It was a very hands-on experience, where I was able to put to practice all of the theoretical knowledge that I acquired during the program. I worked on many real-life deals, and got exposed to the whole M&A process. The second internship was at Morgan Stanley in New York, where I worked as a data scientist in the quantitative model risk department. This internship was more technical, focused on building models that would aid Morgan Stanley assess liabilities in their risk models. Even though I enjoyed both experiences very much, I realized at the end of the program that I would go for more technical jobs, and that I would like to work in New York City at least for some more years.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose Google because the company has an amazing culture, offers many different opportunities in terms of projects and teams, and is an amazing place to start your career.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID has not impacted my career plans much, since technology companies like Google were able to adjust to remote work with fairly mild friction. The pandemic made me realize that working remotely is totally feasible and that there are many pros and cons to that system. In my case, I enjoyed remote work and developed a preference for jobs/careers that allow for that, at least partially.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Do network with people! Many opportunities are off the radar and hard to find searching online, so talking to people from industry is definitely a must.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I wish I had taken more time to engage in opportunities within the program itself, such as becoming a teaching assistant and participating in research projects with professors. It gets way harder to connect to renowned professors such as the ones we have in business school after you leave business school.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
No surprises. Google’s recruiting process is very transparent, and usually focuses on coding interviews. I had a great time applying since everyone was very helpful!
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Advice I could have used when I was a student was that the timeline to apply for jobs is really tight! For internships, we usually have to apply almost a year in advance, and the application time usually coincides with the first weeks of the program.