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MSF Program Alumni Profile and Spotlight: Thomas Reedy

"Regardless of the Outcome, What You Learn Along the Way is Very Valuable."

Thomas Reedy, MSF '07 Alumni Profile

Thomas Reedy, MSF '07

Reedy needed a way to break into risk management and found his opening through Brandeis International Business School (IBS). Now an AVP and actuary at John Hancock, he held an actuarial job before attending Brandeis IBS as part of the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program. Through careful course planning and counseling from the school’s Career Strategies Center, Reedy graduated from the MSF program with an equity risk management job at a major insurance company. Today, he leads one of John Hancock’s asset modeling teams, focused on providing business insights and meeting regulatory requirements. 

What led you to pursue an MSF at Brandeis IBS?

I saw the MSF program as a competitive advantage in achieving my goals. I had a pretty clear idea that I wanted to pursue a career in risk management or quantitative finance after graduating. Once in the program, I found the classes refreshing. I spent my time prior in deep study for actuarial exams and those involve a lot of solitary time. At Brandeis IBS, the environment was interactive – you must speak up, voice your opinions and defend them to get class credit. It was good preparation for the corporate world where teamwork is important and where you need to make yourself heard through credibility.

Tell us about your time in the program. How did it help advance your career?

The classes I took with Professor Reitano in Financial Risk Management and Pricing Derivatives positioned me very well for interviews in my chosen field. While most of my electives focused on my areas of interest, the lessons from core courses have enabled me to think more broadly in my job. Even if your career is focused on risk management, there are times when you need to understand the broader context when tackling operational risk issues, for example. In addition, the global perspectives grounded in the courses I took have been greatly beneficial when working with colleagues from across the globe.

What does a typical day look like in your current role?                                      

A good chunk of my day is spent on review of work product and in looking for opportunities to be more efficient in how we produce it. When I previously held hedging positions – a key application of risk management – it was important to stay on top of daily capital market movements. In my current role, the projects are longer term in nature. In order to meet deadlines, keeping to agreed-upon schedules is critical, and I’m responsible for ensuring that the work product from my team meets those deadlines. It involves a lot of internal and cross-functional teamwork.

What do you find most interesting about risk management? Most challenging?

It’s a continual learning curve. Even within existing processes, there are new insights to be gained. In risk management we rely on models – and even the most robust models cannot cover every possible eventuality. I experienced this in my own life. I graduated in 2007 and a year later, the financial crisis hit. Model shortcomings became evident when risks manifested in unusual ways at that time. A lot has been learned since then, but the most challenging aspect of risk management is still to narrow the gap that comes with “we don’t know what we don’t know.”

What advice do you have for current MSF students looking to establish careers in risk management?

You are very likely to be asked technical questions in your interviews in addition to standard information. Make sure you have mastered concepts from class and that you understand how to convey technical material in a non-technical matter when needed. Utilize the Career Strategies Center in your job search and preparation! It is often said that success is not a journey – it’s a destination. I firmly believe this and have learnt that regardless of the outcome, what you learn along the way is very valuable. It can be leveraged for your other goals. Be determined but also flexible in your career – if you are at point A and want to get to point B, that path is rarely a straight line.