- Financial aid helps make the MBA experience possible for UCLA Anderson student Caroline Ward
- She brings her varied skills to an investment internship at Artisan Partners
- Ward’s Anderson experience shows opportunities for women in the investing space
While conducting fixed-income research for Travelers Insurance in her home state of Minnesota, Caroline Ward (’21) realized she wanted to take her career in investing to the next level, utilizing the finance and accounting she’d studied at Claremont McKenna College and the experience she gained at Travelers. Pursuing an MBA, she determined, would help her bring her career in investment management to the next level.
“I felt like getting my MBA would be an important way to hone my skills and build my network. When it came time to look for schools, ultimately, Anderson made the most sense for me,” Ward says. “There were a lot of things that I was looking for, and Anderson fit the bill. The top thing was fit and culture, and I hope everyone is aware of the unique culture that Anderson has. I would describe it as really collaborative and collegial, and it’s just a unique community of super-bright and driven people — but also people who are willing to help and collaborate, and that was kind of the fit I was looking for.” Ward also says that after completing her undergraduate studies in California, the allure of returing to SoCal was strong. “Especially in January, as I was filling out my applications in the winter in Minnesota.”
Ward’s decision to earn an MBA came with an understanding of the financial implications of tuition and a two-year pause in her career. That Anderson offered her a fellowship made the transition to student life easier.
“The financial obligation is a big consideration. There’s an opportunity cost that you give up,” Ward says. “When I received the scholarship, it made it very clear to me that I could pursue this opportunity that would help me get to the next level and form the relationships that I wanted, without the burden of having to think about this major expense.”
Ward parlayed her first year at Anderson into just the type of opportunity she was looking for.
“This summer I’ve been interning for Artisan Partners. They are a global asset manager and I’m on their high-yield credit team doing fundamental investment research,” Ward says. “I’ve been working closely with senior portfolio managers and analysts, and my project is to research a particular industry and then a specific company within that, and present an investment pitch at the end of the summer. It’s been great exposure and good practice to see what the work is really like.”
In addition to the analytical finance and accounting expertise Ward relies on in her work, she also brings a more literary point of view, merging left brain and right brain talents.
“I went to a liberal arts school, so I have always believed in the importance of a liberal arts education. I think it is helpful,” says Ward, who double-majored in economics/accounting and literature at Claremont McKenna. “I wanted the accounting because it’s very practical. It’s the language of finance. You need to understand how to read the numbers. The literature side is helpful, too, because knowing how to be a good writer, a good communicator, a good persuader — based on arguments and facts — is very useful in investing and probably in anything.”
As Ward pursues a career in investing, she can’t help but be aware that the industry has traditionally skewed male. She, along with a number of her classmates, hopes to bring change to the industry. “I think the space is really interesting and the reception that I’ve had suggests that firms are realizing what they need to do to get on board, to get the best talent,” Ward says.
Ward notes that numerous studies have demonstrated that diversity — namely, a diversity of thought — boosts the corporate bottom line.
“I have sensed that a lot of firms with cultures that I would like to be a part of are making diversity a priority,” Ward says, noting that Anderson has hosted several Women in Finance events, where female Anderson graduates have come back to talk about their experiences and their goals. “I think it’s helpful to see other Anderson alumni, in whom you can kind of see a version of yourself, progressing in those roles,” Ward says. “The other thing I would categorize as a highlight was the Cornell Women in Investing Conference, a stock pitch competition and conference for first-year female MBA students. I participated with two of my classmates, Cindy Gao (’21) and Sherry Lin (’21). It was a unique and refreshing experience to go to a conference about investing, where 95% of the attendees were female.”