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Real Humans of Bank of America: Olivia Farley, Emory Goizueta MBA ’20, Vice President Investment Banking

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At a pivotal point in her career, Olivia Farley decided to transition into investment banking and she turned to an MBA program to boost her skill set. In this Real Humans: Alumni, Farley shares how the combination of a powerful program with a supportive community in a big city drew her to Emory Goizueta. Read her story to see how the leadership skills she gained in the program contributed to her rise through the ranks at Bank of America.

Olivia Farley, Emory Goizueta MBA ’20, Vice President Investment Banking at Bank of America

Age: 32
Hometown: Kingsland, GA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Emory University, GBS – Finance and Real Estate (double Major – Economics)
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Goizueta Business School, 2020, Finance
Pre-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): Senior Financial Planner, Ayco, A Goldman Sachs Company, 6 years, Finance
Post-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): Vice President, Bank of America, 4 years, Investment Banking

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I was at a pivotal point in my career where I was going to continue the career I was in, or I was going to make a switch into something new. To be successful transitioning into investment banking, I knew that I needed to expand my skillset and the MBA was where I could do this.

Why Emory Goizueta? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Goizueta was the perfect blend of a great education with a supportive community in a big city. I wanted a school where I could walk through the halls and know all of my classmates and professors. One of the most important benefits of an MBA is expanding your network, meaningfully. By meaningfully, I am talking about the ability to be able to call on a friend a few years down the road and they recognize your name. With the small class sizes and cohort design, you get to know your graduating class very well.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
There are so many things that contributed to feeling prepared on day 1, but if I had to pick one it would be the leadership skills that I gained during my MBA experience. We were taught to explore our leadership style, what makes a great leader and ways that we can improve as a leader. Within our first semester we’re put into small groups with varying backgrounds by design and it gives students an opportunity to lead and follow during different assignments.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned with Bank of America’s Real Estate, Gaming and Leisure (ReGL) group within the investment bank. Throughout the internship, we were treated as full-time Associates, which gave us an insight into what our future roles would look like. Through having a ‘real’ experience, I was able to decide whether my assumptions about the job would actually be a good fit for me.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose Bank of America due to its large platform, strong deal flow and the great culture. The most important aspect was the culture. I knew I would be working long hours, and I wanted to do it with people that I truly enjoyed being around. Bank of America reminded me a lot of Emory with an emphasis around collaboration and great mentorship.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
I went to as many conferences as I could, even if they weren’t focused on investment banking. Everyone knows practice makes perfect, and these conferences give students the ability to hone their networking and interviewing skills. I also learned about other job opportunities that I may not have looked into without attending the conferences.

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I would have started preparing a little earlier. I don’t think that you should spend the summer before you attend business school stressing about the upcoming two years, but there are many diversity conferences and fellowships that happen over the spring/summer that you don’t want to miss. You can connect with the admissions office and career center after your acceptance, and they will help ensure that you don’t miss any of these opportunities.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Investment banking has a very structured recruiting process, so there weren’t many surprises. I was told the number of people who know you get to know at the company makes a huge impact, and I probably underestimated how many people other students were networking with throughout the process.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Go to the extracurricular events, go on all the student trips … make those memories. You have two years, and it flies by, you will regret it if you sit on the sidelines.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.