Tianyue Zhao ’13 M.S. made a positive impression on the faculty of Syracuse University’s Whitman School while working on her master’s degree in finance. Almost a decade later, that reputation stuck with her as she was hired this fall as an assistant teaching professor in finance at her alma mater.
After earning her master’s degree, Zhao returned to China, where she worked for several mutual fund companies, gaining experience in equity research, auditing, fixed income and asset management. After a time, she decided to return to the U.S., earning a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020. Over the years, she had kept in touch with both faculty members and classmates from the Whitman School, even asking Associate Professor of Finance and Chair of the Department of Finance Ravi Shukla to be a part of her dissertation committee.
After completing her Ph.D., she began a job search, but the Whitman School did not have an opening at the time. She took a position on the faculty at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, as an assistant professor of finance. She was content there but, not long after, an opening for a teaching professor became available at the Whitman School, and she knew she had to apply.
“The search committee unanimously thought she was the best candidate for the job,” says Shukla. “Over the eight years since earning her master’s degree from the Whitman School, she had become a confident professional with a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom. I am very proud that she graduated from our program.”
Milena Petrova, associate professor of finance at the Whitman School, agrees. Having had Zhao as both a student and a teaching assistant, she was familiar with her “impressive intellect, extraordinary analytical skills and strong work ethic.”
“It’s rare to find a teaching professor with a Ph.D. who also brings industry experience,” says Petrova. “Even when she worked as my T.A., she always connected very well with the students, and that’s something she is doing now as a member of our faculty. It brings me such joy to see someone who was my student develop and grow into such an accomplished and impressive peer.”
Having passed all three levels of CFA exams—a “great strength,” according to Petrova—Zhao is one of only two finance faculty members at Whitman able to mentor current students as they prepare for their own CFA exams.
Zhao is thrilled to be back on the Syracuse University campus. She likes the atmosphere of a larger university and the resources that come with that, as well as the interaction with a greater pool of students. She is already hard at work sharing her academic knowledge and professional experience with Whitman students in four sections of Principles of Finance this fall.
“While I was away for eight years, I always had a fondness for the University and the Whitman School, and I feel so fortunate to be part of the wonderful faculty that helped me along my own career path,” she says. “I hope to use my experience to help current and future Whitman students achieve great things, just as the faculty here helped me.”
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