Student Profile: New Perspectives
Sid Ratnaswamy '10
Internship: Corporate M&A, Thomson Reuters
Post-MBA Position: Investment Banking, Credit Suisse
Iím Canadian. I went to school at McGill in Montreal, and my undergrad degree was in economics. After graduating I joined the Canadian arm of MBNA, which was then the largest credit card bank in the United States. After MBNA was bought by Bank of America, I came down to the States for a leadership development program, and I was asked to join the risk management team here. I ended up being a VP managing a risk management team in the credit card and small business portfolio.
After about five and a half years there, I felt I had more to learn. I wasnít ready to settle into a career path on cruise control. I wanted to get into investment banking, and I looked for an MBA program that would be personally challenging and academically rigorous and would open up all kinds of job opportunities.
I chose Yale SOM. I loved the location. SOM is also one of the best finance schools. Itís small, so I knew this was the best place for me if I wanted to get individual attention in the career office or from faculty. I can walk into Gary Gortonís office and just have a conversation with him.
We have an amazing finance club. Right off the bat in the first year they prepare you for investment banking internship interviews. How to present yourself, how to dress, how to speak, how to prepare, how to network, how to send emails ó "donít send emails at 1:30 in the morning because bankers keep their Blackberrys on and they donít want to be woken up."
The integrated curriculum was also very helpful when I was interviewing for investment banking jobs. The first round is usually very quantitative; in the second round you meet with a managing director who wants to know if they can put you in front of a client, if you have a general sense of the world. One of the questions I got was how the financial crisis started. Itís more than a finance problem ó itís a social problem, itís a political problem. The State and Society class, and the classes I took in behavioral finance, helped me answer in a way that I think impressed them.
I have an anecdote that I tell prospective students about the integrated curriculum. I was on a group project with four people I had never met before, and we were talking about the geopolitics of oil. I was approaching it from a pure finance perspective, and a classmate got up and wrote on the blackboard a list of things I hadnít considered that were all relevant: the politics of two countries working together, the cultural aspects. Afterwards I asked her if she had a background in political science, and she said, "No, I was a public school teacher prior to SOM." SOM is an amalgamation of very diverse people with brilliant minds, and the curriculum is perfectly suited to that.
For example, the Yale case study method is to give you a raw online case, which means that you have a website with links to a huge amount of data, some of which might be relevant and some of which might not. You have to parse through it and come up with a strategy. You canít do that with just one perspective. To digest that amount of material, you can only do it if you are part of a group where each person understands a different part of it. Youíd never be able to do it on your own or if you had four people exactly like you.
Early on, I thought this may have been coincidental, but now I understand that it is by design. SOM recruits very bright people who can get up to speed in any subject matter they need to. Their ability to learn, to understand new material, humbles me on a daily basis.