From Operations to Finance: Why Kesey Sar Decided to Pursue an MSF
Kesey Sar (MSF ‘16) first became interested in finance in 2013.
At the time, she was working at Brown Brothers Harriman as a Fund Accountant. She began working there right after completing her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Economics, but soon became interested in a slightly different field.
Brown Brothers Harriman was an investment bank, and though Sar worked in Operations, she was fascinated by financial investments. Realizing she needed a masters degree to pursue the type of career she now wanted, Sar enrolled at Bentley University in 2015 in the Masters of Science in Finance program.
Drawing Inspiration from an Investment Bank
When Sar finished her undergraduate degree in 2013, she didn’t expect to work in finance.
As a Fund Accountant, she primarily handled prices and reporting. She valuated daily securities’ prices; assisted clients and external pricing vendors in related trade transactions and corporate actions; and prepared daily, monthly, and year-end reports.
The longer she worked at the investment bank, however, the more she realized she was missing something.
She could handle the numbers, but she lacked any significant financial knowledge, which she says made her feel “incompetent.” Her drive to learn brought her to Bentley to fill in the gaps in her repertoire.
Choosing Bentley University
Sar chose Bentley for its location, financial aid, and reputation in the finance industry.
She originally intended to study financial investment, but decided she preferred corporate finance after beginning her courses in the MSF.
The MSF has two path options for students: the Finance Path, which Sar chose, and the Quantitative Finance Path. The Quantitative Finance Path is a 15-20 month, 12-course program with a greater focus on math and capital markets.
For Sar, who arrived at Bentley with a background in mathematics, the traditional Finance Path was a better fit. This 9-15 month, 10-course program “integrates mathematics, economics, accounting, and associated disciplines with the theories and applications of finance.”
Gaining Experience In and Out of the Classroom
To anyone considering an MSF or about to begin their courses, Sar cautions them not to focus solely on grades. “Your social skills can take you as far or even farther than your GPA,” she says.
Taking her own advice to heart, Sar quickly became involved on campus. She joined the Bentley Investment Group (BIG) and Graduate Finance Association (GFA), even serving as the Vice President of Operations in GFA. She also competed in the graduate level of the Bentley Business Bowl, bringing home second place with her team. Finally, she worked as a Graduate Economics Research Assistant and Trading Room Analyst.
Today, Sar no longer has a lack of financial knowledge holding her back. Through her work in the Trading Room, she obtained three certificates: Bloomberg Commodities, Equities, Foreign Exchange and Fixed Income; FactSet Financial Modeling; and Bloomberg Market Concepts.
This all enhanced her classroom learning, where she says two classes - Advanced Corporate Finance and Equity Evaluation - made the biggest impact on her. These courses helped her hone her financial analysis skills, preparing her for her current job as a financial analyst.
“I learned all the necessary skills from valuing a company to forecasting a company’s profits with risks assessment.”
Several years removed from the program, Sar still remembers many of her professors fondly. “In many ways, they help shaped my career path,” she says. Professor Patricia Flynn, Professor Trevor Larkan, Professor Jahangir Sultan, Professor Otgo Erhemjamts, and many others offered Sar the opportunity to develop the knowledge she would need to start her new career.
Developing the Skills to Work in Finance
Throughout her time at Bentley, Sar gained three broad skills that she still uses today: financial analysis, interview skills, and networking.
The last was vital for Sar. She remembers taking workshops through Career Services at Bentley that went over strategies for showing confidence when approaching people, and she learned how to build and maintain her network.
That network came through for her for in a big way with her current job. “I kept in touch with one of my classmates who referred me to my current position. My financial analysis and interview skills helped me to do well in my interview.”
"Today, Sar works as a Financial Analyst II at Boston Scientific. She spends the first two weeks of every month closing the book and performing monthly reporting, where she utilizes her financial accounting skills and knowledge to perform due diligence for accuracy. She then finishes the month conducting meetings to gather information regarding budgeting and planning for the following month, quarter and year forecasts."
She’s been with the company since April 2017, and greatly enjoys it so far. Though her career took a detour from her original plans, she’s glad she decided to complete an MSF. The graduate degree allowed her “higher pay and more opportunities in terms of career options,” and she’s excited to continue climbing the ladder.