Tag: Specialized Masters

Albert Ip, board of trustee member and executive fellow in Asia; Greg Hutchings of the Weston Career Center; Roger Shi, Mack Yang, Wendy Cai, Ethan Xu, Sarah Liu.

Written by Carl Chen, MSFQ 2018, on behalf of Weston Career Center.

For finance students, asset management firms in Hong Kong typically won’t hire new graduates. Instead, they prefer experienced professionals on their teams. Meanwhile, in the United States, asset management firms provide plenty of job opportunity for newly graduated students.

These are a few of the insights Olin master of finance students received recently during a visit to the Weston Career Center by Albert Y.K. Ip, BS ’73, WashU board of trustees member and dedicated alumnus.

Students also learned during Albert’s visit that in Hong Kong, sell-side firms have a more prominent presence compared to their counterparts in the United States. For students who wish to start a finance career in Hong Kong, sell-side firms might be a better choice.

Albert’s visit was welcome after I had met him for the first time on January 8 during the Hong Kong Wealth and Asset Management Career Trek.

Students with Albert Ip at a happy hour event during their January career trek visit to Hong Kong.

Students with Albert Ip at a happy hour event during
their January career trek visit to Hong Kong.

He showed great passion for helping young students and investing in us, and he gladly accepted our invitation to meet with us again on campus two months after we first met.

Albert is an experienced veteran in financial services. He has worked for banks both in the United States and Hong Kong in a variety of functions, including investment banking, corporate banking, real estate financing, and asset management. After retiring from Citibank, he took up even more responsibilities, both in the corporate world and in higher education.

He is CEO of a Hong Kong’s Langham Hospitality Investments Limited and serves on the boards of six other companies while contributing a large amount of his time at several universities in Hong Kong.

‘Mentor and Good Friend’

As a member of WashU’s Board of Trustees and the executive fellow in Asia of Washington University, he has always hoped to dedicate more of his time and efforts to help students at Washington University with his knowledge and global network. His generosity and dedication are recognized by the school by naming a classroom, the Ip Classroom, in Simon Hall after him.

I feel connected with him because he understands our positions and the challenges we are facing as students. “He is a great mentor and a good friend. It’s truly been a pleasure talking to him,” one student said after the meeting. “He is very sincere and humble, and really puts himself in our shoes.”

Albert is also enthusiastic about building more connections between alumni in Asia/Greater China and students on campus. As one of the fastest growing markets in the world, Greater China region is attractive to many students at Olin, and we need alumni who are very successful in that region to help lead the way.

Being a council member and adjunct professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which has one of the best business school in Asia, Albert knows what it takes to make a great business school. He believes having an excellent career office holds great significance for Olin. He also wishes to help the school have a global presence by helping students seek a career in Hong Kong.

Giving back is really a big part of Albert’s life.

“I can help six or seven students at a time, and spend about 10 hours a week,” he said, laughing. “I just need to spend my Fridays or maybe weekends with students instead of my family.”

I feel very grateful people like Albert are making Olin such a tightly-knit community and for his willingness to share his success with the schools and students.

Pictured above: Albert Ip, WashU trustee member and executive fellow in Asia; Greg Hutchings, Weston Career Center; Roger Shi, Mack Yang, Wendy Cai, Ethan Xu, Sarah Liu.

Seethu Seetharaman

Four years after it first launched with just 10 students, Olin’s specialized master’s program in business analytics is set for an upgrade—splitting into four separate tracks in the coming academic year.

The original master’s program, among the first in the country to focus specifically on customer analytics, has seen enrollment grow nearly fivefold since it was launched. “The program really took off like a rocket,” said Seethu Seetharaman, director of the master’s program and Olin’s Center for Customer Analytics and Big Data.

Until now, students have received a master of science in customer analytics. Beginning with the next academic year, the customer analytics program falls under the master of science in business analytics and will be joined by three other tracks: supply chain analytics, financial technology analytics, and healthcare analytics.

“We are unique in having this full house of differentiated programs,” Seetharaman said. He said Dean Mark Taylor encouraged the differentiated programs after seeing the growth in the original customer analytics program.

“There is widespread interest in analytics,” Taylor said.

The program capitalizes on a growing trend in marketing that combines technical programming skills with sound business savvy to wring insights from vast storehouses of data. Using data collected from product scanners, cash registers, smart devices, patient records, or wearable devices, skilled analysts can get ahead of business trends, forecast customer behavior, uncover solutions to business problems, or develop targeted marketing strategies.

In fact, the possibilities go well beyond those opportunities, which is, in part, what is driving the expansion into new specialities within data analytics. “It’s not just about ‘big’ data, but unconventional data,” Seetharaman said—vast stores of written text such as social media tweets could be a source of new insights.

Students in the newly renamed “business analytics” program will all take a set of core courses in their first semester. The array of electives and required courses will begin to vary depending which of the four tracks the students follow in the 18-month program.

Courses run from the very technical (algorithms and data structures) to the very business-oriented (pricing decision making and implementation).

The first students join the new four-track business analytics program in the fall.

Chad Ham and his paper on narcissism in CFOs.

Does a CFO with an outsized signature make more questionable choices while keeping the company books? According to Olin professor Chad Ham, the answer is yes.

Researchers connected the dots between the size of a CFO’s signature, the CFO’s level of narcissism, and the quality of their firm’s financial reporting in a recently published paper in the Journal of Accounting Research.

The authors’ research showed a link between large signatures and higher levels of narcissism. From there, they showed that “narcissistic CFOs are less likely to recognize losses in a timely manner…consistent with a willingness to cover up past mistakes.”

That paper, published in December, was part of a one-two punch Ham and his collaborators delivered linking management results from both CFOs and CEOs with their level of narcissism. A second paper focused on CEOs has been accepted for publication in the Review of Accounting Studies.

Unique approach to measuring personality

“Part of what’s unique about our research is how we’re capturing narcissism,” said Ham, an assistant professor of accounting at Olin. Because, of course, they couldn’t ask top corporate executives to submit to a personality test, signature size became a proxy for their level of self-love.

Ham, along with researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland, College Park, staged a laboratory experiment to confirm previous research linking signature size and narcissism.

The researchers paired student volunteers and asked them to allocate $5 between themselves and their anonymous partners. Each was given a default allocation of $2.50. The students could stay with the default amount or decide to keep a larger or smaller amount for themselves—knowing that their anonymous partner was given the same task. After that assignment, the students had to fill out a personality test and sign their names.

The results confirmed that the students with larger signatures tended to be more narcissistic and, Ham said, “the more narcissistic participants were more likely to keep a larger share of that $5 endowment for themselves—to misreport their default allocation.”

The researchers then expanded their view with a field experiment reviewing data from more than 500 companies whose CFOs’ notarized signatures could be found on public SEC documents.

“We were able to show a relationship between CFO narcissism and aggressive financial reporting choices,” Ham said. The errors or misreporting took the form of overly aggressive accrual choices; a higher-than-expected level of restatements; and real activities (such as slashing advertising expenses near the end of a year to depress expenses and increase earnings).

Confirming results

Ham and the research team also compared the performance of the companies before and after the CFO was appointed. In the case of the narcissistic CFOs, Ham said, “the firms became more aggressive when these CFOs were appointed.”

The researchers found much the same pattern in the CEO study due for publication in the Review of Accounting Studies. Though not directly responsible for the financial reporting in the company, the paper shows that narcissistic CEOs—those with larger signatures—tended to over-invest in riskier projects and received higher compensation in spite of poorer financial performance.

So, should corporate boards just steer clear of CEOs and CFOs who sign their John Hancock like…well, John Hancock?

Ham says no. It’s not that simple.

“The purpose of our work isn’t to advocate for signature size as a measure of narcissism. It’s to study how executive narcissism affects firm behavior.”

A narcissistic CFO might benefit the company in other ways—ways that aren’t measured in this study.

At most, he said, corporate leaders should be aware of their C-suite occupants’ narcissistic tendencies and “you might want to make sure you have appropriate checks and balances in place.”

“If you want to glean anything from signature size,” Ham said, “you need to have a large sample. It’s an ‘on-average’ effect.”

Pictured above: Chad Ham with two sample signatures his research paper referenced from SEC documents, showing the relative different sizes in the signatures.

The Weston Career Center sponsors several career treks across the globe that provide opportunities for students to meet with alumni and hiring managers in various industries. Yiling Han, MACC ’18, contributed this reflection on her experience from the Accounting Trek in Hong Kong in January. 

My greatest takeaways from the Hong Kong trek were the connections I made with local firms and the insight I gained from insiders’ perspectives. This trek provided me with intensive interactions with accounting professionals from diverse backgrounds, such as HR managers, senior auditors, tax managers, and consultants.

In two days, I received guidance on how to apply for accounting positions in the Hong Kong market, and I learned how to become more efficient in researching options for my career. I also gained a comprehensive understanding about different corporate cultures and key qualifications for positions in different fields of accounting. Overall, the experience provided insight into how best to proceed with job applications at Hong Kong accounting firms.

Details of the career trek

The trek exposed me to leading accounting firms in Hong Kong, including Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, BDO, and Mazars. During each company visit, the company staff introduced the firm, the service lines, resources for employees, and opened the floor to further discussion with students. The staff also provided company tours of the offices to assist in our understanding of their workplace environment.

Our tour began at Edinburgh Tower in Central Hong Kong, where we visited the HR manager of PwC. Our primary interest was to learn more about the company’s culture and job opportunities in the Hong Kong office.

From discussions with company recruiters and accounting professionals, I learned about the firm’s recruiting process, the first-year work experience at PwC, and both the professional and interpersonal qualities of a competitive applicant. To no one’s surprise, most of the firms expected full-time employees and interns to communicate using both Mandarin and English at work.

The Hong Kong trek was not just a series of company visits; it was also a great networking opportunity where we built relationships with people from the Hong Kong accounting firms.

For example, by the end of meeting with Mazars, the firm treated us with snacks, and we chatted for an hour with the auditing director partner, learning from his career experience and outlook on graduate employment.

I believe this is a valuable opportunity to build personal connections, which goes a long way toward making a lasting impression with these firms. It also gave the company officials a better sense of who we are and introduced them to the quality of WashU students and the Specialized Masters Program. I really appreciate the practical experience this trek offered in preparing the Hong Kong trekkers for employment opportunities in Hong Kong.

Pictured above: Members of the Hong Kong trek at KPMG. Greg Hutchings of the Weston Career Center; Yiling Han, Hee Cho, and Rachel Han, all MACC ’18.

The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation (BCSCI), in collaboration with Monsanto, has once again produced a challenging case in global supply chain and technology management for the return of the Monsanto Olin Case Competition on February 8, 2018.

Seven teams have been selected as finalists, representing institutions from across the U.S. and Canada, including:

  • Arizona State University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Ivey Business School
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • MIT
  • Texas Christian University
  • Washington University in St. Louis

We are proud to announce that Lin Kang (Team Captain), Himanshu Aggarwal, Tyler Daniel, and Jamie Yue, all MBA 2018, will represent Olin in the case competition.

Tyler Daniel, Himanshu Aggarwal, Jamie Yue, and Lin Kang

For the final round held at WashU’s campus in February, the seven teams will each make 15-minute presentations and have a ten-minute question and answer period responding to a case on product rollover strategies, production and inventory planning challenges in seed corn supply chains.

The five judges—all from Monsanto and Olin—will be looking for depth of analysis and originality of thought. As a “warm-up,” the student teams will tour Monsanto’s campus the day before the case competition and be treated to a Monsanto panel and a reception to meet, learn more, and network.

Olin is looking forward to a great experience for the participants and wish all the teams good luck! The winners will receive $10,000 for first prize, $5,000 for second prize, and $2,500 for third prize.

Olin Business School Blog Olin Business School Blog