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Alumni Profiles

Dominic Hao Tang

BA, Economics and Mathematics (2012)

Current Position: Research Associate at NERA Economic Consulting

1. How and why did you major in Economics? What makes you interested?

I grew up in a family where both of my parents are interested in capital markets and government policies. When I was little, I felt a bit lost whenever they discussed those issues, but I’m glad I’m able to bring some rigor to our discussions now. Pomona has an excellent Economics department. I decided to major in Economics first day in college, never changed it, and never regretted it.

2. How did you land your current job at NERA Economic Consulting?

NERA recruits regularly at the Claremont Colleges. I went through a standard two-round interview process. I reached out to a Pomona alumnus who worked at the company for general information before the interviews. My Economics Professors also wrote great recommendations.

3. What is the difference between economic consulting and management consulting?

Although the business model is similar, they are almost completely different in terms of what they do. Management Consulting helps companies improve operations and make strategic decisions, while Economic Consulting provides expert analysis in litigations, government investigations, and firm-specific quantitative analyses. A simple way to look at it is Management Consulting provides solutions while Economic Consulting investigates (or sometimes estimates) the truth.

4. What kind of things do you do at your job?

Downloading and organizing data, conducting general research on the matter, brainstorming ideas, building models, performing calculations, backing up analyses and ideas, and drafting final reports.

5. How many hours do you work per week?

Roughly 50 hours a week.

6. What do you see as the most important skills required for a good consultant?

A fundamental skill is to be persuasive. In addition to having solid academic background and technical knowledge, it is important to make sure everything you claim is backed up by facts or data; everything you present must be correct and can be replicated; Most importantly, the logical connection between your arguments must be carefully examined.

7. Which part of a Pomona education do you find most helpful? Why?

The simultaneous availability of freedom and guidance. You can be as independent as you want, but if you seek advice and help, there are always a number of capable people out there willing to help you in a way that often exceeds your expectation.

8.What is your favorite Economics class at Pomona? Why?

Advanced Macroeconomics. It introduces the coolest models and theories in this field and allows students to reflect on those models as opposed to taking them for granted. The class might be too theoretical for some people, but it is especially helpful if you want to further pursue the field of Economics in the future.

9. Is there any advice you would give to current students, with respects to academics or social life at Pomona in general?

Do not come out of Pomona without knowing what you will be doing in the next few years, because that would be sad. Once that’s established, enjoy as much as you can. Make sure to take advantage of the 5C configuration.

(Interview by Xiaoyin Qu)

 March 3

Ben Ginsberg

BA, PPE-Economics (2007)

Current Position: Vice-President- Global Markets, Deutsche Bank Securities

1. What has your career path been like since graduating from Pomona?

Since graduating Pomona I have worked for Deutsche Bank in their Global Markets (Sales & Trading) division. After 6 months in London and New York, I’ve worked in San Francisco covering West Coast institutional accounts for two primary product groups. I originally was in the Securitized Products Group, but after 2 years I transferred to Integrated Credit Sales.

2. How did you get your first job?

I learned early in my time at Pomona that securing a job at a top investment bank is extremely difficult. Normally, all fulltime positions are filled with students who were interns the summer after their junior year so I knew I needed to get a summer internship. That’s easier said than done because the top investment banks usually only recruit at certain schools (Ivy League, top undergraduate business schools, etc). Being at Pomona, I realized it would help me to have a finance/business internship after my sophomore year so I interned at Citicorp Investment Services (a division of Citigroup). It wasn’t anything special and sounds more impressive than the back office work I was doing, but it helped me build up my resume. When the time came to apply for summer internships after my junior year, I found a program that helped college athletes get interviews at Wall Street banks. I played baseball so I applied, and when I was selected for interviews I used the Sagehen Career Connection to contact Pomona alumni in business who helped me prepare for my interviews. I got an internship at Deutsche Bank, they gave me a full time offer at the end of the summer, and the rest is history.

3. Can you explain the difference between a career in sales and trading vs. corporate finance?

Corporate finance is the part of investment banking that deals with mergers & acquisitions, IPOs, restructurings, takeovers, etc. The hours are long and the life style is brutal, but you learn a ton about the way businesses operate and it’s a great stepping stone to private equity, venture capital, and business school. Sales & trading is the part of investment banking where securities are brought to the public/private markets for the first time, and then are traded between accounts or individuals in the secondary market.

4. What are the hours and workload like for a job in sales and trading?

You can expect to work 10-12 hours a day with new hires working the higher end of that range.

5. What skills are important to be successful in this industry?

The job involves a large amount of human interaction, focus, and intensity – there is very little down time. Your “people skills” are extremely important. A basic understanding of macro & microeconomics, monetary & fiscal policy, financial accounting, financial statement analysis, and corporate finance are a big plus.

6. What advice do you have for current students who are trying to figure out what they want to do?

Start exploring different careers/options as early as possible for a couple of reasons. First, experiencing certain roles firsthand is the best way to know if it’s the right fit for you. Second, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out in an increasingly competitive job marketplace, and previous experience can help set you apart. Utilize the CDO resources and talk to as many alumni or friends as you can.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

Febrary 10

Lindsay Slote

BA, Economics (2008)

Current Position: Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company

1. Why did you choose to major in economics; what were your career interests as a student?

I found that econ classes really were a great combination, both of my interests (what are the big forces driving change in the world? why is there poverty?), and also the way I like to think about problems (looking at things in an analytical, rigorous way). In my econ classes I especially liked studying environmental economics and microfinance – trying to understand business-minded solutions to social or environmental problems. I explored those interests through a PCIP internship at EcoSecurities in the village, and as a summer analyst in the Merrill Lynch healthcare investment banking group my junior year summer.

After that internship, I realized that I really liked problem solving, breaking down the drivers of a business, thinking about the forces shaping an industry… and didn’t care so much about “the numbers” that are a big motivator in investment banking. I also realized I wanted a few years in a really rigorous, challenging environment, so I liked the idea of working for a big professional services firm – if I could build up my professional skills, then I could make greater impact in the areas I cared about. So, I thought maybe consulting is a good fit for me.

2. How did you get a Rotary Scholarship after college; what did you do during that year?

I love traveling, and also really wanted to go try my hand at doing something in development, and not just studying it (e.g., through Andrabi’s great classes!) I remember thinking the Rotary scholarship offered a lot of freedom to shape your year and make impact the way you wanted. I knew that India had a lot of interesting Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), and they spoke English there, so I made up a story about how I was going to go to India and make a difference there!

During my scholarship year, I lived in Pune, India, a city of ~5m people. I did a bunch of speaking to Rotary clubs, volunteered on Rotary community service projects, took econ classes at the local university, and started a Rotaract Community Service club for international students. After a bit of a hard adjustment, I met lots of friends, traveled a ton, and overall had the time of my life!

 3. What kinds of work do you do at your job?

Being from the NJ office of McKinsey, I’ve worked on the big industries in that region – consumer goods companies (candy bars, TVs), pharmaceuticals, and public sector (federal agencies down in DC). The problems we’re solving for clients are diverse – what are growth opportunities? How do we re-organize to reflect our global business? How do we react to new legislation?

I’ve also now spent my 3rd year as a fellow within our Sustainable Economic Development practice. This has been a super cool opportunity to do the types of work I really want to do – e.g., spending 6 months in Ethiopia working on economic development projects; running around cities interviewing city officials to understand what they do well; and learning all about one small piece of the solar industry.

 4. What kinds of things are you interested in pursuing career-wise in the future?

As a McKinsey Business Analyst, you’re usually expected to leave after 2-3 years (at least for a stint) to try something else, go to business school, etc. So, I’m thinking about moving on now – not sure where that’ll be. Ideally I’d like to do something that combines the opportunities for growth and social impact I’ve found in Africa, with a role that lets me work in the private sector and continue to live in the US. Or, maybe I’ll try to find a role at a start up or other small job in NYC, where I can really get my hands dirty with “implementation”. Let’s see!

5. What parts of your experience Pomona have you found to be most helpful in your career?

One thing that’s really special about Pomona is our practice thinking from many different angles about a problem, being willing to ask questions and see an issue from many different points of view. I think that liberal arts approach inspires creativity, and an intellectual humbleness, which can be really useful when you’re thinking about new problems all the time (and where you’re almost never the expert).  I also think it’s super important to learn to work in teams, as that’s how almost all work in the “real world” is done. Pomona did a good job of giving opportunities for leadership and teamwork, through all the clubs, small group projects, etc.

 6. Is there any advice you would give to current students who are potentially interested into consulting?

If you’re interested in consulting, don’t worry too much about doing “the right thing” to prep your resume. What they’ll be looking for is that you’ve excelled in whatever area you’ve focused on (who cares what major it is), and that you’ve demonstrated leadership in whatever area you’re passionate about. Focus on that. When it comes time to interview, you can definitely practice some cases, but what will really come through anyways is what they think you can accomplish in the future, not how perfect your answers are.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

January 20

Conor O’Rourke

BA, Economics (2003)

MA, Higher Education & Student Affairs, University of Connecticut (2008)

Current Job: Assistant Dean of Admissions, Pomona College

1. How and why did you end up majoring in Economics?

In true liberal arts fashion, I spent my first two years at Pomona fully exploring the curriculum. Of the sixteen classes I took during those first two years, I think I had about ten different academic departments represented. Perhaps I had three or four in economics (yay! a head start!) and those seemed to come more naturally to me. Ultimately, I think it was the combination of carefully thought-out economic models butting up against the irrational chaos of day-to-day human behavior that appealed to my love of entropy.

2. Why did you choose to go into admissions? How did you end up at your current job as an admissions officer back at Pomona?

After Pomona, I moved out to Boston, because I had always wanted to experience life on the East Coast. After working for a couple of years with an educational non-profit, I decided to go to graduate school for Higher Education Student Affairs because it seemed an interesting way to learn about the inner-workings of a college. While there were many routes I could’ve taken with this degree, I chose admissions because it seemed to perfectly combine my desire to work with students,  with my proclivity for puzzles and problem-solving (putting together a dynamic freshman class of 400 students can sometimes seem like trying to figure out a very complicated jigsaw puzzle). Luckily, Pomona hadn’t forgotten about me, and when I interviewed for my current position, I was interviewing with some of the same people who I’d worked with during my time here as a student! Talk about full circle.

3. Can you talk a little bit about your experience of graduate school in terms of how it compared to your undergraduate experience?

Graduate school was a whole different world from undergrad. First of all, I attended the University of Connecticut, which is not only located on a different coast, it is also a public research one university with big-time NCAA Division 1 athletics. I was glad for the opportunity to experience this type of collegiate setting. Nowadays, my love for the Sagehens is only rivaled by my love of the UConn Huskies (woof!). In terms of day-to-day,  I found that graduate school felt more like a job. Living off-campus, attending class in the evenings, and working 30 hours a week in an academic office as part of my assistantship all contributed to this.

4. What is your favorite aspect about being an admissions officer? Least favorite?

I like the travel and getting to see new parts of the country, and how geography shapes the particular high school cultures, and in turn, the particular students at those high schools. Seeing so many different environments really makes me appreciate what we do here at Pomona, which is to bring in students from all walks of life, and have them live and learn with each other for four years.

I wouldn’t say I have a “least” favorite part because so much of what an admissions officer does is truly a lot of fun, and feels important in some way. Yet, if I had to pick, I might also answer with, The Travel, because I’m forced to be away so much from home, and eventually sleeping in hotels every night gets old and impersonal (the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney captures this phenomenon well).

5. What is your workload/schedule like? What is a typical day like?

It really depends on the time of the year. In the fall, we travel for most of the time. I think over the course of September and October, I was only at home for less than two weeks total. When I’m on the road, I’m visiting high schools, meeting with students and high school counselors, and attending college fairs. In the winter, once our first admission deadline hits (Early Decision 1 on November 1st), we are pretty much reading applications full time, all the way through Regular Decision, and the mailing of offer letters in late March. In the Spring, we are holding on-campus and regional “yield” events where we interact with admitted students and help them to decide if they wish to accept their offer of admission to Pomona. The summer tends to be a bit quieter, so it’s a good time to catch up on more big picture projects. Oh yeah, and to take a little vacation time too.

6. What are ways people who are interested in higher education administration can prepare for the job market?

Get involved with different offices on campus during your undergraduate years. This could be through on-campus jobs, volunteer opportunities, or just going to lunch with a staff member. Talk to those professionals who work in those offices about what they do and how they got there. Find mentors, and cultivate these relationships during your limited time here. During my time at Pomona, I learned a lot about admissions by working in the admissions office as a senior interviewer, and getting to know the staff here. Not only was it a great on-campus job, it got me interested in pursuing this as a career, and helped when I came knocking on the door again as a job seeker years later!

7. What aspects of your experience at Pomona did you found to be particularly helpful to you now? Are there specific classes that you would recommend to current students?

At Pomona, there is always something that you could or should be doing: be it reading for a class; researching at the library; meeting with a professor; or spending some quality time with your sponsor group. Being busy in this way forces one to really manage their time well and prioritize commitments. These are skills that are constantly being utilized in a fast-paced workplace where there is also always something that you could or should be doing. I’ve never been busier than I was at Pomona, and now that I know how to survive those constant demands upon my time and focus, I’m confident navigating the waters of any professional office setting I find myself in.

8. Is there any advice you would give to current students, relating to academics or life at Pomona in general?

As students begin to weigh their different options for careers, it is always helpful to talk to current professionals about their own paths. What you’ll find is that for most jobs, there really isn’t one set formula. Conversely, you’ll find that a particular path can lead to many different results too.  Who knew an Econ major could end up in education? Or, how about my freshman year roommate—an English major, and not even part of the Pre-Med track—now being the one that is actually the doctor? Pomona sets you up to do many things, and to do many things well. Just ask around, and you’ll find that the options are limitless.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

December 30

Jamie Hall

BA, Economics (2012)

Current Position: Research Assistant at the Urban Institute

1. Why did you choose Economics at Pomona? Was it something that you were interested in before college or did you realize it at Pomona?


I had no idea that I was going to major in Economics before I started at Pomona—I actually entered college thinking that I’d go to law school. In the process of taking classes for a PPA major, I signed up for Professor Steinberger’s Poverty & Income Distribution class, since it sounded like a fun discussion seminar (I hadn’t yet figured out how to use course reviews) and didn’t have a lot of prerequisites. I still have no idea why I didn’t cut and run after the first class, but I doubled down on the mistake and ended up finding a major that I was truly excited about.

2. Were you considering different career paths at Pomona and why did you ultimately choose to work at a think tank?


I knew that I wanted to do some sort of research job after college. I ended up choosing a think tank because it was an opportunity to work on a wide range of projects with incredibly accomplished researchers. I was excited by how relevant the research was, and I liked the idea of working in an organization with such broad expertise.

 3. What does the workload/schedule look like? What does a typical day look like for you?


Urban is a fairly laid-back work environment, and you have a lot of flexibility to manage your own schedule. The workload can be pretty variable—there are times when there’s a ton of work to be done on a short schedule, and it’s not uncommon to see people at work on a weekend or after 7. That said, the workload generally balances out to a 40 hour week, and it’s pretty uncommon to show up before 9. Right now, I work on projects for my primary PI about half of the time, and then I split the rest of the day between two smaller projects. Similarly, about half of my time is dedicated to data work, and the rest is spent on more qualitative projects.

4. What types of problems and research have you had the opportunity to work on at the Urban Institute?

So far, I’ve had the chance to look at how the recession has affected older workers in terms of wealth, unemployment spells, and social security uptake. I put together some quick regressions and summary data to look at the relationship between inequality and income in large metropolitan areas for a blog post. I’ve been able to do some writing about a grant program that funds training for careers in healthcare for low-income individuals. Currently, I’m putting together a dataset that will be used to examine long-term care needs for older Americans.

5. What type of skills do you think of as the most important for someone going into research to have? 


Having basic coding skills in STATA or SAS is a huge plus—while the senior staff and other research assistants are always happy to answer questions, you really need to be able to be comfortable with the basics. It helps if you’ve worked with some sort of large dataset before. You need to be able to manage your own time well—often, there’s no one keeping track of what you’re doing day-to-day, so you need to be proactive about balancing your workload.


6. Are there specific aspects of your time at Pomona that you found helpful in your career or aspects that you would urge current students to take advantage of?

Advising, research, winter break recruiting. Never underestimate how helpful your advisor can be. Research experience can really set you apart from other applicants when you’re interviewing; I can promise that you will be asked about your research in every interview. And you really do need to sign up for winter break recruiting if you don’t have a job lined up in November. Almost every new hire I’ve spoken to here at Urban found their job through a similar event.

(Interview by Kelly Ren)

December 9

Tim Bishop

BA, Economics (1990)

MBA, Yale School of Management (1997)

Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, Yale School of Forestry and   Environmental Studies (1997)

Current Position: Apple Inc. (US Regional Manager, Environment, Health & Safety)

1. What is international trade consulting and lobbying; what were some of your responsibilities when you worked in field?

My work in international trade consulting involved advising companies about regulatory issues that would have some sort of an impact on their ability to sell their goods internationally.  Typical clients included large US multinational companies with operations in many countries but also included some smaller companies (family-owned California wineries).  I would advise these clients on issues such as import tariffs and other trade barriers in countries that they were interested in selling to, country-of-origin labeling for their products, and US policy development affecting international trade.  On the lobbying side, I represented the interests of US companies in international trade negotiations such as NAFTA and the WTO, letting Congress members and Executive Branch officials know what issues were important to our clients (for instance, asking Mexico to lower its tariffs on our clients’ products as part of NAFTA).

2. Why did you decide to change careers from your initial job?

I liked the content and pace of my initial job, but I had a revelation one day that made me re-think my career path.  My boss came from a particular religious background that had strong prohibitions on alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.  One day I was looking at our client list – which included many hard liquor companies, cigarette brands, and soda companies — and realized how much my boss’s career conflicted with his personal beliefs.  Although I did not share his particular values, I realized that if I stayed in the career I was in, I would at some point likely be making the same compromises of my own personal values.

3. Why did you choose to do the graduate program that you did?

I thought a lot about what my personal values were and how I might structure a career around them.  Some issues that I supported – gay rights, women’s rights, and animal rights – felt too personal; it would be hard to detach from work at the end of the day.  Environmentalism was in line with my personal values and also interesting to me from a technical perspective, so I decided to focus my career on this.”

I did a lot of informational interviews with people in environmental careers around Washington, D.C. to find out how they got to where they were and what they would recommend for me.  Most of them gave me the same message – if I wanted to switch to an environmental career, I would need to demonstrate some credibility in the field, best achieved by completing graduate studies in the topic.

I knew that I liked the pace of the private sector, so I decided to pursue a Master’s in Environmental Studies and an MBA at the same time.  Yale University was one of the few schools that offered this particular combination, which could be completed in 3 years instead of the typical 4 years.  The school also had the best reputation for this program, which is why I chose it.

4. What is your current job and what kinds of things do you do there?

I am currently the US Regional Manager for Environment, Health & Safety at Apple.  In this role, I make sure that our employees are safe and that our facilities minimize their environmental impact.  A lot of my job is focused on regulatory compliance – making sure that we are meeting the expectations of the EPA and OSHA.

My job varies a lot from day to day.  Typical activities include responding to medical or environmental emergencies on campus, developing and providing safety training to employees, consulting on safety/environmental issues for upcoming construction projects, meeting with regulatory agencies, and developing safety policies and procedures.

 5. Are there specific aspects of your Pomona experience that you found particularly helpful to you in your career or that you would recommend current students to take advantage of?

I didn’t appreciate the value of a liberal arts education until after I graduated.  I had assumed that everybody who goes to college graduates with a well-rounded education, but that is just not the case; many college graduates lack the breadth that a liberal arts education provides.  This gives Pomona graduates a real competitive edge when the work is inter-disciplinary.

In today’s ever-shrinking world, international experience is a real plus as well.  My study-abroad experience in Japan while at Pomona is what opened doors for me in my last job working in Supplier Responsibility at Apple.  The job required being culturally fluent enough to work with business-people in many different Asian countries; my semester in Nagoya gave the hiring manager the confidence that I would be able to adapt to various Asian business cultures and succeed in the job.

7. What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing a career that involves both economic and environmental aspects?

Keep an open mind about how you might marry the two disciplines together in your career; many people pursuing environmental studies limit themselves to the non-profit or public sector, but there are a lot of private sector careers in environmental work as well.

For those students who are considering grad school, my advice is to wait a while to get some real-world experience and find yourself before you commit to a course of study.  This will allow you to really figure out what you want to study so you can be sure you’re targeting the right graduate program.

8. Do you have any general career advice for graduating students?

Pomona’s reputation is really strong in California, but unfortunately many people back East (where I worked right after college) have never heard of the school. Definitely use the reputation of Pomona if you’re looking for work in California, but if you’re looking for work anywhere else, you’ll need to provide some context (hot-link to a college ranking or something) so potential employers understand how strong Pomona is.

Also, you’re graduating into a tough economic environment, which was also the situation when I graduated in 1990.  Don’t be afraid to use non-traditional means to find a job, such as informational interviews, internships, etc.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

November 18

Naomi Laporte

BA, Mathematical Economics (2011)

Current Position: Management Consulting, Bain & Company

1. How and why did you end up majoring in Economics?

I had the honor of taking an incredible introductory macroeconomics course with Professor Slavi Slavov (now at the IMF). Although at first I found the course incredibly challenging, I found the subject fascinating as it changed the way I looked at the world and I had gained an incredible analytical skillset in just one semester.

 

2. Why did you choose to go into consulting? How did you land your current job at Bain & Company?

I did various jobs at Pomona, including economics research, and determined that I needed to be in a more collaborative environment where I was constantly working with people. I also knew I wanted a fast-paced environment and, ideally, one in which I would get to learn about different “subjects” throughout my career. After completing my internship at Bain, I knew that I had found the perfect industry that met all of my criteria.

 3. What kinds of problems have you been assigned to work with at Bain & Company?

I have worked on a variety of cases, including a market entry strategy for a major biotechnology company and a technology transformation for a financial services firm. I’ve also been involved in leading a pro-bono case for which we have designed a leadership program for charter schools and performed a capabilities assessment/designed a 3-5 year strategy for nonprofit serving homeless veterans.

4. What is the workload/schedule like? What is a typical day like?

There really is no typical day, but on any given week, I normally travel Monday through Thursday. Days involve client meetings, analysis (modeling, expert calls, secondary research, etc.), brainstorming with the team, team dinner and fun activities, some “extra-10% work” which are activities which we are involved in outside of our case (non-profit work, recruiting, class event organizing etc.)

5. What are ways people who are interested in consulting can prepare for the job market?

Demonstrate that you are a leader who drives results in whatever you do, whether that’s a club on campus or a summer internship. Show that you went above and beyond just being a participant, and that you actually had a vision that you could execute. Also demonstrate quantitative skills while at Pomona through taking the appropriate classes. Lastly, create connections with employees at consulting firms early on, and continue to express your interest to them in working at their firm.

6. Do you feel that being a woman in a male-dominated major shaped your academic experience? Were there pros and cons to this dynamic?

I definitely think that being a woman shaped my experience – it has taught me how to be resilient and to persevere when people frankly think you may not be as “apt” at a subject. I had experiences where I felt I was left out because I didn’t fit into the “boys club” but in the end I just worked hard and ended up earning my success in the major. These experiences have been incredibly useful to me in consulting, which yet again, is a male dominated field.

7. What aspects of your experience at Pomona did you found to be particularly helpful to you now? Are there specific classes that you would recommend to current students?

Forming close bonds with professors. Going to office hours to talk or get further clarification, even if the homework wasn’t particularly confusing. You get so much more out of the experience by becoming friends with professors.

International economics, Technology and Growth, Labor Economics, Macro Theory, Econometrics (Anything with Professors Kuehlwein, Steinberger, or De Pace!!)

8. Is there any advice you would give to current students, relating to academics or life at Pomona in general?

Take classes in all different subjects – looking back, I can’t believe that we could take classes such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, computer science, FOR FUN! That’s a crazy thought once you enter the working world…

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

October 28

MD Ma

BA, Media Studies and Economics (2011)

Current Position: Business Analyst, Deloitte Consulting LLP

1. How and why did you end up majoring in Economics? Was that always the plan?

Prof. Lozano did a great job “selling” the major! In addition, he was a great advisor in helping me completing my double major. I never thought that I would end up running regressions during my last semester in college, but looking back, it was certainly a fruitful experience.

2. How did you land your current job at Deloitte?

I went through the fall 2010 recruiting process, met a bunch of fantastic Deloitte practitioners, passed the interview and accepted the offer. It was certainly a process that requires a lot of thought and preparation.

3. What is the interviewing/hiring process generally like for consulting?

The Claremont Colleges are privileged to be the target schools for many premier consulting firms. Recruiting teams normally come to campus to conduct info sessions, schedule case interview workshops and invite candidates to submit applications. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to two or three rounds of interviews, which encompass both behavior and case questions. Offers will be extended to the top performing candidates.

 4. What kinds of things do you do at your job? What are the hours like?

I do A LOT of things: serve clients, develop project opportunities, build new solutions and capabilities, attend community service events, recruit here on campus, complete personal training, take surfing classes, BBQ at manager’s houses and hang out with my own analyst class, etc. Hours range from 40-75 per week pending on what I want to accomplish. Essentially, here at Deloitte, we work hard and play hard.

 5. What do you see as the most important skills required for a good consultant?

The ability to: listen, observe, analyze and validate

 6. What aspects of your experience at Pomona did you found to be particularly helpful to you now? Are there specific classes that you would recommend to current students?

Everything. Consulting is about problem solving; at Pomona, we deal with that on a daily basis. We think hard in classrooms and we do the same outside the classroom to enhance our residential college experience. Take any class that challenges you to the extreme. But I would say, give Econ 51, 52, 101 and 102 a try. Your life could be different!

 7. Is there any advice you would give to current students, relating to academics or life at Pomona in general?

Cherish your time at Pomona; it will end sooner than you expected!

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

October 7

Erin Kiley Metzger

BA, Economics and Mathematics (2002)

MBA, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (2009)

Current Position: Product Manager, Starbucks Company

1. What kinds of jobs have you held since graduating from Pomona?

Economic Consulting, Business Development, Marketing & Product Management

2. Can you explain the difference between managerial and economic consulting?

Managerial consulting is typically what you think of when someone talks about “consulting” – these are roles where you work on business strategy questions faced by client companies.  An example might be creating a market entry strategy for a client who wants to take their business to China.  In economic consulting, done by firms like Charles River Associates, you’re doing the analysis used in antitrust litigation.  An example would be helping to prove that your client company did not fix prices by showing that prices moved in accordance with the market.  It’s very much analyzing the principles studied in Industrial Organization – market power, barriers to entry, vertical integration, etc.

 3. What is the workload/schedule like for an entry-level job in consulting?

Expect to be traveling most of the time and working 60 – 80 (or more) hours per week in a managerial consulting position.  Typically you fly out to the client site on Monday morning and return on Thursday evening, so you only spend Friday in your actual office.  In my experience, economic consulting did not involve any travel and on average the workload was about 50 – 55 hours, although there were definitely times where that spiked up for a few weeks.

 4. What advice would you give on preparing for consulting interviews?

Practicing case style interview questions is key.  Cases take some getting used to, so grab a book of sample questions from the CDO and practice as many as you can to gain confidence.  Be sure to spend some time practicing in front of another person as well – setting up a mock interview would be a great way to do this.

 5. Do you have any advice for students who plan on getting an MBA sometime after graduating?

Consider taking the GMAT right after graduation while you’re still in test-taking mode and might have a little time off to study.  It will only get harder once you’re working and it’s been awhile since you took a math class.  The scores are good for 5 years.  Also, don’t just focus on your job – top MBA programs are looking for well-rounded people, so make sure you take on additional leadership opportunities through community service or professional organizations.

 6. What was your experience in business school like? How did it compare to your undergraduate experience?

I got my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  It was a great experience and really fun to be able to take classes after being in the working world for a few years – I had a much better perspective of my interests and what types of things I wanted to learn.  Pomona gave me a broad set of skills that have served me really well – critical thinking and writing being the two most important.  Pairing up a Pomona liberal arts education with an MBA, where the leaning focus is much more on applied skills, provides a really strong foundation for a career in business.

 7. What kind of work do you do at your current job? 

I’m currently a product manager for the afternoon treats business at Starbucks.  I’m responsible for understanding what drives our sales for products like cookies, bars & cake pops.  I also lead the launch of new products, which involves coordinating across a large number of functions and people within the company.

8. What aspects of your Pomona experience have you found to be particularly helpful to your career?

Pomona teaches you how to learn, how to question and how to express yourself – if you can do these things, you can easily pick up anything else you need along the way.  As far as classes go, Professor Likens’ Senior Seminar was a great way to get experience working on real-world business problems and I highly recommend it.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)

Sepember 16

BJ Bell

BA, Mathematical Economics/Minor: Japanese (2000)

Master’s of Arts, Economics-University of Washington, Seattle (2007)

Current Position: Vice President, BlackRock Inc.

1. What has been your career path since graduation; how did you get to your current job?

Well, I wanted to go to graduate school and then teach, but not immediately. At Pomona I minored in Japanese and wanted to work on my language fluency and live abroad. So after graduation I moved to Japan on the JET Programme and taught high school English for a few years. After that, I decided a) I still wanted to be in Japan, and b) I wanted to try something a bit more in line with my undergraduate degree.  I found a job as a consultant in Tokyo and did that for a year, and then decided to apply  to Econ PhD programs in the US. As a graduate student I had a few opportunities to work in both industry and academic research, and realized I enjoyed the type of work I was doing in industry more, specifically in the areas of strategy development and analysis. I made the decision to stop my studies at a Master’s degree and entered the job market. I ultimately decided to accept an offer from a fund of hedge funds group called Quellos LLC (which was actually founded by a Pomona alumnus named Bryan White). That was June 2007. In October of 2007, BlackRock, Inc. purchased Quellos and I have been with the broader company, based in the Seattle office, ever since.

2. What kinds of things do you do at your current job?

I am responsible for performance analytics, custom strategies, and GIPS (Global Investment Performance Standards) compliance.  I work especially close with the firm’s marketing team and portfolio managers on a variety of client deliverables as well as internal analytics used across the firm.

3. What is the difference between asset management and hedge fund management?

Well, I think hedge funds are a category of asset management. They differ from a more traditional finance asset management structure in that they focus on absolute returns. In other words, hedge funds focus on the return of the asset itself with no direct comparison (generally) to a benchmark.  More traditional asset management will include a broader range of products (spanning fixed income, equities, etc.), and generally look to relative returns (i.e., a fund versus an industry benchmark, for example).

4. What skills are important to being able to perform this job well?

Analytics are a given, but you have to be able to communicate complex ideas and verbalize any issues or problems well.  Especially when you work for a firm that has a global footprint, and you’re not physically in the same place/time zone as some of the other teams.

 5. What advice would you give to current students trying to figure out what they want to do after graduating?

Don’t be afraid to try something different…something that gets you out of your comfort zone, even if only temporarily. I feel like the time I took “off” from the career portion of my life really helped me focus later on. Grad school was a good decision for me, and even in retrospect, I’m glad I waited a bit before returning to school.

 6. What parts of your experience Pomona have you found to be most helpful in your career?

I had direct personal relationships with a number of professors and still keep in touch to this day. It helped me develop a more personalized approach to my ongoing education, which is really what lead me to try so many different things. And while I’m not required to use Japanese on a daily basis in my role, the experiences I gained from being abroad (i.e., out of my comfort zone) have definitely been an asset (e.g., I know how to deal with foreign situations well).

 7. Is there any additional information that you think would be relevant and/or helpful to current students?

There are many fields you can venture into with an economics degree. And the best way to really figure that out is to try different things early on. Take advantage of the resources Pomona offers and don’t think you’re only limited to internships (look at volunteer opportunities, teaching, mentoring, etc.). Start a dialogue with your professors and don’t hesitate to reach out to alumni for advice. Sometimes the best way to figure out whether you’re interested in an industry or not is to hear first hand from someone else’s experiences.

(Interview by Maria Zhu)