Economics and Finance 2020 Newsletter

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Welcome to Economics We offer undergraduate and graduate programs that open doors to careers in business, public policy, and the law. Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) with majors in Economics, Finance, or Risk Management & Insurance. Students can also choose a concentration in Real Estate within the Finance major. Graduates can earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Economics, Master of Science (M.S.) in Finance, or Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics. Students outside the Jones College of Business can complement their chosen major with minors in Economics, Finance, Real Estate, and Insurance. We also provide instruction in Economics and Finance within the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program.

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t has been another successful year for the Department of Economics and Finance (ECFN). During the 2019–20 academic year, our faculty have published in top-ranked journals such as the Review of International Economics and the Journal of Banking and Finance, have presented at international conferences including the Allied Social Science Association and the Financial Management Association, and have been cited in the media by NBC News and U.S. News & World Report. Our groundbreaking research and subsequent media attention show that we are committed to lifelong learning, which makes us more effective teachers. Over the past year, we have increased the number of our majors by 57, illustrating that students trust us even more with their academic careers. Our outstanding graduates continue to get top positions and succeed in a competitive workforce. Our undergraduates have earned internships at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and Bank of America, and recent graduates have been hired at Ascend Federal Credit Union and Merrill Lynch, to name just a few. We are committed to continuous improvement of our programs. Toward this end, we welcomed five new full-time faculty to the department in 2019–20: Ennio Piano, assistant professor of Economics; Steven Sprick Schuster, assistant professor of Economics; Sarah Ji, assistant professor of Finance; Nour Kattih, Economics lecturer, and Peter Trager, Finance lecturer. Using input from the Economics and Finance Advisory Board, a group of local industry professionals committed to enriching the experience of our students, we recently revamped our Finance programs to better fit the current needs of regional employers. Both our undergraduate and graduate Finance programs are now affiliated with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, the premier professional organization in the industry. Being among a select group of universities with dual CFA affiliation allows us to provide additional CFA Exam Scholarships for our students. We also

and Finance! integrated into our curriculum preparation for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, a new requirement for securities industry professionals. To provide additional opportunities for students, we created a major in Risk Management & Insurance, recently named the top insurance program in the nation by A.M. Best, a global credit rating agency for the insurance industry. Our students in Real Estate can gain licensing and hands-on experience in real estate transactions with the Real Estate Club and Blue Raider Realty, our affiliated brokerage firm. Our new Political Science Research Institute (PERI) has partnered our Economics programs with the Honors College. Its mission is to engage undergraduate and graduate students with faculty in research that will further the understanding of business and economic principles. Last year PERI hosted the Dr. James M. Buchanan Centennial Birthday Academic Conference in honor of the late Nobel-winning graduate of MTSU. We are focused on success for our students. The remainder of this newsletter provides a taste of the career paths and experiences of our alumni and current seniors, who share their personal journeys and a little advice for current and prospective students. Perhaps you can see part of your future with us in the Department of Economics and Finance at MTSU.

Follow us on Instagram (mtsu_ecfn), Twitter (@MTSU_ECFN), or Facebook (@MTSUECFN). Connect with professors on LinkedIn.

—Keith Gamble, Chair, Economics and Finance

Richard Stone B.B.A.’98 Economics M.A.’04


ichard Stone is a double Raider, with a B.B.A. (’98) and an M.A. in Economics (’04). He is Reliant Bank’s market president for Rutherford County and a senior vice president. He began his career with Federated Mutual Insurance in Minnesota. Since then, he has worked A specialized mostly in the financial industry, for companies such Economics degree, as as Merrill-Lynch, Mid-South Bank (Franklin Synergy), opposed to an M.B.A., and J.P. Morgan Chase. Stone volunteers for Leadership Middle Tennessee, the MTSU distinguishes me from Alumni Association, the MTSU Economics other candidates. and Finance Advisory Board, the Stones River Country Club, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, and the Murfreesboro Electric Department. Why return for a graduate degree in Economics? My undergraduate business degree is a general mix of economics, finance, accounting, and marketing. A specialized graduate degree in Economics, as opposed to an M.B.A., distinguishes the skills I have to offer a potential employer. How did you choose your first job, at Federated? My professor recommended that I attend a campus job fair and interview with that specific company. I still know the interviewer, a community leader in Williamson County. Were you hesitant about taking a job outside the Tennessee region? No. I chose the job for its known and excellent corporate training program. The training I received gave me much needed self-confidence in my abilities. Important career decisions: I once decided to leave a job based on personal reasons. It was the correct decision but for the wrong reason. My best decision was to take a position that would have been considered lateral: though the new position offered less money and was more challenging, it set me on a path to leadership. Advice for current students: First, find successful, objective mentors, who have multiple experiences from which they can advise and don’t benefit directly from your success or failure. I have developed a strong group of peers that have become my mentors and have worked with a corporate coach, and I would recommend students consider doing so. Second, be forward-thinking. Make decisions based on where you want to be, not where you don’t want to be, including considering geographical or lateral moves if they lead to greater opportunities. Finally, develop a network of professional relationships, which I have found to be invaluable.

Kathy Jones Finance M.A.’83


athy Jones received her M.A. in Finance in 1983 after double-majoring in Business Administration and Economics at Rollins College. She is drawing on her wealth of experience as both an employee and an employer in her new venture as co-owner/operator of Peddler Interiors and Gifts with her daughter, Alison. Jones started her career in banking and then moved into real estate. After traveling extensively as a trainer for a title software company, she started a title company in Murfreesboro, building it up to include 10 middle Tennessee offices before selling it to a national title insurance underwriter, which named her state president, managing 40 offices. During nine years there, she started a retail website jewelry business. Jones worked for five years as managing broker for Parks Realty in Murfreesboro before purchasing the gift store in January 2020. A Leadership Middle Tennessee graduate, she chairs Murfreesboro’s Planning Commission and has served on boards of the MTSU Foundation, United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and Webb School. Advice for students entering the job market: The biggest mistake I made as a student was not taking advantage of campus career resources. As I am naturally shy, the practice interviews the career center offered would have helped me immensely. My first interview after graduation was with IBM. I didn’t land the job and ended up working seven days a week in two jobs, as a waitress and as a sales associate in a small retail store, to make ends meet. A year later I started working at a bank. But all jobs contribute to your career learning experience. Why a master’s in Finance from MTSU? One of my bank managers suggested I get a graduate Finance degree. As a lifelong learner, I didn’t need much encouragement to go back to school. I attended classes at night while working full time at the bank.

Be the best leader/ manager/boss you can be. It’s all about attitude, and that starts at the top.

Advice for students who want their own business: Be the best leader/manager/boss you can be. It’s all about attitude, and that starts at the top. If you treat employees well, they will treat customers well. If you have a bad attitude, your employees will, and customers will notice. You will work twice as hard for yourself as you ever did for someone else, but it will be worth it, so go for it. Everyone in the company has value, and all jobs matter. The reception for a customer may be as important as the service provided. Learning to assess employees’ individual strengths is critical: Help them to be the best at their job. Good employees make you, and your company, look great.

Aidan Black Finance B.B.A.’19


idan Black earned his B.B.A. in Finance in 2019. While at MTSU, he was a member of the Blue Raider football team and served as president and co-founder of the Blue Raider Finance Network. Recognized for academic success, Black graduated magna cum laude, was awarded a Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal, and received a Nashville Financial Executives International scholarship. He is now an associate with Alvarez & Marsal in Dallas, conducting fundamental analysis, gathering data, and preparing reports to advise clients through bankruptcy and restructuring. While an undergraduate, Black interned as a summer analyst with both the Patten Group and Sherman & Company. Choosing a career: I explored potential careers early, talking with people in the industry and doing basic research online. I would advise students to start exploring careers as early as possible. It is important to know there is currently a race for talent at the firm level: companies are looking to hire earlier and earlier. Not knowing what you want to do increases the risk of missing out or being left behind.

Visualize yourself in 20 years. Work backward to today to determine your next steps.

Finding internships: Each of my summer internships resulted from a connection I made by reaching out to others. My junior year internship came about because I responded to an email concerning Dr. Dave Wood’s London summer program. He introduced me to the internship at Sherman & Company. Working in internships: Make the most of your internship by asking questions and exposing yourself to as many learning opportunities as possible. Be willing to meet and talk with as many people as you can. You never know who might help you along the way. Be willing to learn outside of work or the classroom. If you don’t know something, ask someone, or do your own research. Advice for students: Aim for success. Project yourself 20-plus years into the future. Visualize where you want to be, and then work backward to today to determine the incremental tasks you must complete along the path to get there. It is important to know what you are working toward and be willing to work hard to get there.

Christian Kile Economics B.S.’15


hristian Kile received his B.S. in Economics in 2015. He was an excellent student as evidenced by his overall GPA of 3.72. After MTSU, Kile completed an M.A. in Energy Economics at Rice University in 2016. He is now a senior My MTSU associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Houston. Kile works in Economics degree the transfer pricing division of the made me the most tax department to provide arm’slength evaluations on intercompany prepared student in transactions. Most of his clients are in the graduate school. oil and gas industry. Much of his consulting work includes preparation of documentation and reports for tax authorities in multiple countries. The reports typically include a business overview, an industry overview, a functional analysis, and an economic analysis. Prior to PwC, Kile interned and then worked full time for Ernst & Young (2016–19) in its transfer pricing division.

Graduate studies at Rice University: I had always wanted to go to graduate school. My father was an academic, so it was something I valued early on. The graduate program was one year, full time, and quite intensive. I can honestly say my MTSU Economics degree fully prepared me for graduate school. Looking back, I feel I was the most prepared student in my class. Succeeding in the area of transfer pricing: When I first started, I was given assignments to complete. It took a year to fully understand how the assignments all fit together. Thus, through perseverance I was able to learn and understand transfer pricing. Advice for freshmen: Be open-minded: Have a willingness to take chances and explore different opportunities. Plan ahead and learn the hard stuff; it’ll never be this easy again. Finally, enjoy your time in college.

Frank Merlock Finance B.B.A. Honors ’20


ince 2014, Frank Merlock has been an independent recording engineer who mentors new artists navigating the music business. He plans to graduate in August 2020 in Finance, double-minoring in Business Administration and Recording Industry. A well-rounded student with a 3.88 GPA, Merlock has been awarded scholarships including the Honors Transfer Fellowship. His Honors thesis is related to music analytics. Merlock’s goal is to work in the financial analytics department of a major label. He worked as a recording engineer and studio manager before returning to finish his degree and gain experience in corporate internships. Why MTSU? I believed it was best equipped to combine my passions: music and business. I transferred after gaining my associate’s degree in Illinois. Why Finance? My passion for the music industry is strong, but I am wary of a music-related degree due to stories of people still paying off student loans long after graduation. I see college as an investment: Finance offers a better return. Extracurricular activities: I am president of the Blue Raider Finance Network, which brings together industry leaders and students. I work as a freelance mixing engineer and produce music and gig on the side. Influential events: Managing a small recording studio, learning firsthand the difficulty of remaining financially viable, changed my perception of college. While I cherish that experience, it cleared my vision of what I could accomplish with more focused knowledge and how difficult life could be without it. Working on music projects, I was touched when people said the product changed their life. I never doubted that music was important to people and that pursuing a job in that industry could positively impact society.

I see college as an investment: Finance offers a better return.

Advice to others: Go to campus events in a field that interests you. Talk to people in jobs that seem cool. Each summer, work in an internship. Each semester, assess your likes and dislikes. What you want to do will become clear. Make a resume: MTSU offers resume services. Writing down your skills helps you see what to focus on. Update it with new clubs and internships. Seek an internship to complement previous activities. Develop social skills: I recommend Blue Raider Finance Network. The importance of being able to communicate cannot be overstated.

Scottásia Roker Economics B.B.A. ’20


cottásia Roker expects to graduate in May 2020 in Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurship. From Nassau, Bahamas, she learned of MTSU through high school Junior Achievement. A recruiter convinced her to attend MTSU, based on its size and reputation. Roker is a high achiever as evidenced by her 3.7 GPA and scholarships from MTSU, the Department of Economics and Finance, and the Bahamian government. She is involved in extracurricular activities, serving as president of the Economics Club and as an officer for Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Her volunteer work includes stream bank planting with MTSU Dairy, Youth Read-to-Succeed, Habitat for Humanity, and Alpha Kappa Alpha activities. Roker’s career aspirations are specific: She wants to be governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas. Toward this goal, she interns and works in jobs related to the banking industry. Her experiences include the Central Bank of the Bahamas (junior professional), Commonwealth Bank of Nassau (intern), and Jones College computer lab (lab assistant). Why Economics? I had a love for commerce as a subject all through high school, and economics was the next best thing. It was the only thing I could see myself studying. I love learning about how money influences entire economies. Extracurricular activities: Textbook learning is great, but learning from peers can be even more beneficial. I have been able to enhance my communication, time management, and organization skills. Also, I have gained a better understanding of the value of mentorship. Influential events: The career fairs I have attended at MTSU enabled me to gain experience talking with recruiters, develop a better resume, and be more prepared overall for the workforce. Advice for new students: Do not take all of your general education classes at once. Space them out with your major classes so you have a well-balanced schedule instead of just difficult semesters. Get to know more people. If you start to see the same faces every semester, ask for their contact information. Get to know your professors; they are knowledgeable and genuinely interested in your future.

I want to be the governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas.

Ekaterina Valuiskaya Finance B.B.A. Honors ’20


katerina Valuiskaya, originally from Novoaidar, Ukraine, will graduate in May 2020 in Finance with a Business Administration minor as an Honors student. Her thesis focuses on corporate social responsibility in businessto-business and business-to-consumer companies. She has excelled academically, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and being awarded the Paul W. Martin Scholarship, Bank of America Scholarship, Honors Transfer Fellowship, and Charles E. Hodge II Scholarship. Valuiskaya accepted a job offer from the Federal Deposit Insurance I found employment Corp. (FDIC) as a financial institution through campus specialist with the goal of becoming a commissioned bank examiner in three to four internship and years. She will draw on experience she gained career fairs. interning at AllianceBernstein (internal audit) and Tennessee Valley Authority (business development and renewables). Before transferring to MTSU after earning her associate’s degree from Southwest Tennessee Community College, Valuiskaya worked for IKEA, SAS Shoes, and Bass Pro Shop. She had attended college in the Ukraine but realized after emigrating to the U.S. that she needed a U.S. university degree to have a desirable career. Why MTSU? The Honors College Transfer Fellowship determined my choice. It was a great opportunity to get my education debt-free. Why Finance? I changed my major from Business Administration to Finance as a junior and did not lose any credit hours. I followed my passion for studying something challenging and interesting. My advisor and Dale Carnegie Course instructor suggested Finance as a major, and my experience in Dr. Sean Salter’s Principles of Corporate Finance class confirmed my choice. Influential events: Two campus events were crucial for my future success. At the Jones College internship fair, I met a TVA representative and got an internship in the Nashville office. At the MTSU career fair, I met an FDIC representative who told me about their recruiting process and job opportunities. Advice to new students: Before making career or graduate school decisions, start researching. Use campus resources such as career fairs, update your resume, set up a LinkedIn profile, and connect with professors and classmates. Worry less, and enjoy school life more­—it’s over before you know it!

Logan Huddleston Economics B.S. ’20


ogan Huddleston plans to graduate in August 2020 in Economics with minors in Psychology and Biology. When not taking classes at MTSU, he reads books on economics and psychology; listens to podcasts and public radio programs such as EconTalk, Conversations with Tyler, and Marketplace; and takes online courses with Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy. He attended the University of Tennessee before traveling in Western Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. He returned to school in 2018 to complete his Economics degree. Employed at Amazon since 2016, Huddleston deals with the movements of hundreds of customer orders and has partnered with leadership to implement network-wide solutions. He has been recognized for his accomplishments as company All-Star of the Month, 80 Hours UPT Club member, and area manager shadow. Why Economics? I am an avid reader. Many individuals doing interesting work have backgrounds in economics. Behavioral economics is becoming more mainstream: Books such as Freakonomics and Predictably Irrational that provide insight into human behavior are fascinating. Economics equips students with a robust framework for thinking critically and solving problems. Students are exposed to traditional economic ideas (incentives, opportunity costs, and second-order thinking) and learn the value of working with models and how to understand systems. As organizations become more data-driven, having an economic lens with which to view the business environment uniquely qualifies me to make successful workplace decisions. Influential class: I took Intermediate Microeconomic Theory with Dr. Wisarut Suwanprasert. That experience was incredibly insightful about how I might use economic principles with mathematics to aid the decision-making process. Career preparation: As firms look to use analytics to leverage their competitive advantage, employers are searching for candidates with strong mathematics and data literacy skills. I have supplemented my education with courses in business analytics, statistics, and mathematics. I follow industry trends in analytics and data science, looking for opportunities. I want to use analytics to develop and implement business strategy. My education gives me a clear understanding of considerations managers evaluate to make decisions.

I want to use analytics to develop and implement business strategy.

Advice for new students: Don’t get discouraged by things that don’t matter in the long run. Focus on underlying themes and big-picture ideas, not details.

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