Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to work in finance. As an Iranian immigrant who moved to the United States when I was only four years old, I struggled in English class more than other subjects; however, from day one, I found that math and statistics came much easier to me. I enjoyed solving problems in creative ways using a mathematical approach through my course work. As I got older, I started to get interested in business and economics. I dreamt about how one day I could help companies grow through financial planning and make strategic business decisions for them.
When I got to my senior year in high school, which was the start of the Great Recession, both my parents temporarily lost their jobs jeopardizing my future college plans. Nonetheless, I didn’t give up and attended a small state-school called Kutztown University in Pennsylvania with the goal of transferring to a top business school in the future. I spent the first two years commuting three hours round trip to Kutztown, as it was the closest school to me that offered a finance program as well as provided scheduling flexibility in order for me to work part-time.
After my sophomore year at Kutztown, I successfully transferred to Syracuse University to major in finance and economics. One of my proudest moments as a young adult was when I received my financial aid/scholarship package and submitted my admission to SU. Throughout the two and a half years at Whitman, I look back at my experience with fond memories regarding (i) academic achievement, (ii) great people who I have met, and (iii) overall personal growth.
When I graduated in fall of 2013, I started my career working at Ernst & Young in the Business Advisory Program as a staff I. Although the role wasn’t what I had initially hoped for, I understood that this provided me with opportunities to gain access into specific fields that interested me, such as banking, private equity, hedge funds, etc. After my first year at E&Y, a new job opportunity came up through networking at a credit focused investment firm called Medley Capital. I came on board as an analyst and learned about middle-market Leverage Financed by providing asset management and underwriting duties for the Investment Team.
At Medley, I learned a tremendous amount about middle-market lending. I enhanced my due-diligence, valuation and asset management skills across various sectors. In addition, I mastered the technical skills required for the job through LBO modeling and how to analyze financial performance through historical and projected data. I attended portfolio company board meetings and built external relationships with executives, sell-side advisors and private equity firms. After three years at Medley, I sought a new opportunity at a private equity firm called GPB Capital as an investment associate. I quickly realized that this field was where I wanted to be. I’m currently working in the healthcare group, overseeing the current portfolio of more than 130 physical therapy clinics as well as underwriting and executing new transactions.
In my experience, I understand that front-office finance positions are hard to come by, but as I’ve learned, anything can be accomplished when you work hard and actively expand your network. However, now having over four years of work experience, I realize I wouldn’t be where I am at in my career if it wasn’t for the experience I received at SU. As a result, I hope I can serve as a resource to any Whitman students who are interested in pursuing a career in finance.