Brandeis International Business School

Amy Kessler, BA/MA’90: A proven leader working for the "best in the world"

Amy Kessler BA/MA '90

At Brandeis International Business School, Amy Kessler did not learn all the answers. Instead, she graduated with even more valuable proficiencies: the expertise to ask relevant questions and the determination to probe until she discovers the ideal solution.

How would you describe the school’s approach to business education?

At Brandeis, you learn to question until you understand and you learn to dig until you find insight. The education at Brandeis is meant to prepare you to find the right answer. Also, the small classes nurture close relationships with faculty and make students search beyond the obvious for solutions. You end up in the kind of dialogue with your professors and fellow students in which a superficial response is not adequate.

Tell us about the professors you had at the International Business School.

I had great teachers like Barney Schwalberg (wow, did he make the light bulbs go on!) as well as Anne Carter and Peter Petri. I learned from them that market conditions change all the time because economic conditions change, so you have to adapt your strategies and ideas to succeed.

 I received encouragement from my professors right from the start; they believed that I would do well. That belief in my potential that I encountered every day was empowering. It was an early boost that has taken me much farther than I would ever have dared to hope. When I return to campus now, I see a new generation getting ready for their launch in life.

What have you done since graduating?

I joined Lazard shortly after graduating and was the financial adviser for construction of the new Denver International Airport. My team had to devise a strategy to pay off $1 million a day to bond holders as the project faced prolonged delays. It was a challenging assignment, and I was never satisfied with a traditional approach. Ultimately, our team succeeded in financing the delay, and the airport was able to refinance its debt after it opened because of the financial plan we developed.

In 1995, I moved to Bear Stearns, where I worked in debt capital markets and eventually became a principal at the bank. I joined Prudential in 2009 and now head the longevity risk transfer operation within the retirement services division. I’m also a senior member of the leadership team for Prudential’s market leading global pension risk transfer business. Since 2011, our team has written more than $100 billion worth of business covering pension obligations in the U.S. and abroad.

BA/MA in International Economics and Finance
Class of 1990

Home Country
United States

Senior Vice President and Head of Longevity Risk Transfer at Prudential Retirement

Previous Experience
Lazard, Bear Stearns

Undergraduate University & Major
Brandeis (Economics)