In 2012 Sydney Foresythe earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce at McMaster University in Hamilton ON, Canada, and was looking ahead to a career in financial research and analysis.
After graduation, he worked as an intern at RBC Dominion Securities and MacNicol Associates in Toronto, and with CITCO, a business that provides services to hedge-fund companies. He quickly realized he wasn’t satisfied with the progress of his career.
“I wasn’t doing what I liked and wanted to do,” he says, “and the internships weren’t leading to a full-time job. I decided I needed to further my education and started looking at schools where I could get a master’s degree.”
That search led him to the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, where he enrolled in the M.S. Finance program in 2014 and received his degree in June 2015. He is now working as a Valuation and Fairness Opinion Analyst for the financial firm Stout Risius Ross in Los Angeles.
“I looked at a lot of places and did a lot of research online,” Foresythe says of his search for a graduate school. “Santa Clara was in Silicon Valley; it had a good reputation and a one-year master’s program; and it seemed to have a strong network with alumni and businesses.”
He didn’t visit the campus until after he was accepted to the master’s program. He thought it was beautiful (though smaller than he expected), and his discussions with people at Leavey sealed his decision to enroll.
The year at Santa Clara, he says, was a positive learning experience in many ways:
- There was a lot of give-and-take in the classrooms, and, indeed, the small class sizes (usually fewer than 25 students) encouraged it. Professors were also accessible and had open-door policies.
- What was taught in the classroom was directly translatable to the real-world. “When I got to SCU, I’d had some modeling experience, but here we created hands-on financial models. Everything I learned at school is almost exactly what’s being applied at work now.”
- There was a sense of bonding and support from his fellow students. “We worked together on projects and got familiar with each other. I learned from a lot of people who were smarter, and there was a lot of getting together outside of class. That was one of the most important things about the program.”
A few months into his studies, Foresythe began looking toward getting a job in the financial analysis field when he graduated. Professors with industry experience, including department chair George Chacko and adjunct instructor Nitin Barve gave him valuable pointers.
Those pointers were supplemented by practical advice on job searching from the school’s career advisers and assistance from the International Student Services office on how to navigate his visa situation when looking for work.
In the course of this cumulative process, Foresythe found Stout Risius Ross and learned about the company, which seemed like a good fit. Given contact information for one of the firm’s managing directors, and advice from business school staff on how to make the approach, he e-mailed her, was called in for an interview, and was offered a job in his field when he graduated.
“The idea was to come to Santa Clara, get a master’s degree, and get into a field more involved with financial analytics,” Foresythe says. “That is exactly what happened, and I absolutely feel I made the right decision.”
— Michael Wallace