Brandeis International Business School

Pia McCusker, MSF'00: Flexibility in the workplace

Pia McCusker

Why did you pursue a graduate program at Brandeis International Business School?

I received my BA from Brandeis, and after a few years of work experience, I knew I needed a graduate degree to further my career. I became part of the inaugural class in the Brandeis Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program. It was a great experience given the small class size — roughly 20 students — many of whom I still keep in touch with today.

Who were your biggest influences at the International Business School?

I was working at Brandeis at the time as an assistant budget director. Alfonso Canella, who was the budget director at Brandeis and a senior lecturer in finance, advised me to participate in the MSF program concurrently with my job. I was able to take a class during the day in lieu of my lunch and evening courses after work. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not taken his advice.

Tell us about your career path.

Graduating from college in 1992 into a challenging environment was difficult. Fortunately, I’d had an internship at Fleet Bank that became a permanent position after graduation, as a financial analyst in their Managed Asset Division.

In 1994, I returned to Brandeis as a budget analyst at the university’s Budget and Finance department. After two years, I took a financial analyst position at Molten Metal Technology, a startup technology company in the field of hazardous waste recycling. When MMT went bankrupt, I returned to the safe confines of Brandeis, this time as an assistant budget director under Canella. After graduating in 2000 with my MSF, I accepted a position at State Street Global Markets as a senior associate in their Structured Products group. I am still with them; it’s been a great organization in terms of learning, growing and expanding my career.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

My duties range broadly from addressing queries from clients, rating agencies, consultants and the “street” and from State Street’s management, risk, legal and compliance departments. I review new opportunities (asset class type, products, issuers/counterparties) and write thoughtful pieces or research updates and opinions.

What would you advise someone entering your field?

The skills necessary to the credit analysis field include excellent writing skills, a sense of curiosity and skepticism (“The Street” always has an ulterior motive), confidence in presenting your case thoroughly and of course, quantitative skills to review financial documents. It’s a field that people tend to evolve in over time.

Master of Science in Finance
Class of 2000

Home Country
United States

Job
Managing Director – Global Head of Credit Research, State Street Global Advisors

Previous Experience
Financial Analyst, Fleet Bank; Financial Analyst, Molten Metal Technology; Assistant Budget Director, Brandeis University

Undergraduate Institution
BA, Economics and American Studies, Brandeis University