Professor Fatma Sonmez-Leopold Named to Poets and Quants Top 50 List

Fatma Sonmez-Leopold, Ph.D., assistant teaching professor of finance at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management was honored as one of the 2020 Top 50 undergraduate business professors in the world by Poets and Quants for Undergrads, a higher education website for those interested in pursuing a business school education. Poets and Quants gives this award to faculty who “transform students’ minds as well as hearts.” 

A member of the Whitman School faculty since 2017, Sonmez-Leopold received her Ph.D. in finance from the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. She also has master’s degrees in both engineering management and mathematics from Middle East Technical University in Turkey. Sonmez-Leopold currently teaches courses in managerial finance, investment analysis and fixed income securities and principles, as well as coordinates a core corporate finance course. Her research interests include empirical asset pricing and investments, as well as corporate behavior and household finance. 

A native of Turkey, Sonmez-Leopold is proud to have overcome social norms by earning degrees in what were considered traditionally male-dominated subject matters, often finding herself the only woman in the classroom. At the Whitman School, she encourages all her students — especially the women — to push aside preconceived notions, find their passion and reach their full potential.

Her students speak highly of her approach. “Without a doubt, Professor Fatma Sonmez-Leopold had the greatest influence on my decision to obtain a degree in finance,” says Jamie Vinick ’20, founder and president of The Women’s Network. “She is able to command and captivate the attention of every student through engaged instruction, a passion for the material and a charismatic, empathetic teaching style. Yet, most importantly, she is inspiring a generation of young women to study finance and confidently pursue a profession not traditionally considered by women. I am incredibly luckily to have had Professor Sonmez-Leopold as a mentor who personally encouraged me to reach for professional achievements I had only dreamed of. I am grateful for her invaluable guidance and the way she serves as a role model to me and hundreds of other young women.”

“By combining her financial expertise with a strong passion for the field, as well as a sincere interest in her students’ success, Professor Sonmez-Leopold enables students to explore and reach their full potential in the areas of finance and leadership,” adds Hendrik Hilpert ’19, now a markets analyst at Citi. “She bring an unparalleled energy to the classroom and leaves her students in a better place at the end of the semester. Her class on fixed income securities prepared me for my internship with Citigroup and was an important factor in receiving a full-time offer.”

Recently, Sonmez-Leopold was a winner of the Syracuse University 2019-2020 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award in the early performance category. In 2019, she was selected as a recipient of the Whitman Teaching Fellow Award. However, while Sonmez-Leopold is honored to be recognized, her main focus continues to be her students. 

“The students come to the University with their dream jobs in their hearts. My true satisfaction is witnessing students’ professional and personal growth after taking one of my courses, as well as the smiles on their faces when they land their first jobs,” she says. “How wonderful to have that journey together with students year after year. I love my job!”

Sonmez-Leopold is only the third faculty member from the Whitman School to receive this prestigious Poets and Quants designation. Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship David Park was selected in 2018, and Professor of Management Ravi Dharwadkar, chair of the Department of Management, was selected in 2017.

Read more about the Poets and Quants 2020 Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professor Fatma Sonmez-Leopold.