Brandeis International Business School

Learning to stand out from the crowd

How Jay Foraker, MA’05, found his niche at Brandeis before climbing the ranks at America’s oldest private bank

Jay Foraker, MA'05 got in early on the risk analysis wave amid the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Jay Foraker, MA'05 got in early on the risk analysis wave amid the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Jay Foraker, MA’05, arrived at Brandeis International Business School with dreams of joining the diplomatic corps.

After majoring in economics and politics as an undergraduate, Foraker was immediately drawn to the Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance (MA) program.

“I was attracted to the unique niche that the MA program offers,” said Foraker, who today works as an assistant vice president at Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH). “Of my top choices, Brandeis jumped out not only for the international economics focus, but also the business grounding. That’s the part that won out over other schools.”

While a career in diplomacy never materialized, Foraker did find himself riding a swell of interest from firms building up their risk analysis departments. He said the breadth and quality of his education at the International Business School equipped him with the problem-solving skills and flexibility needed to climb to his current position at BBH, the oldest privately owned bank in the United States.

Starting with his first semester at Brandeis, Foraker developed and leveraged a professional network that secured him both an internship and his first job.

With diplomacy in mind, Foraker — with the help of a friendly administrator at the business school — talked the British Consulate in Boston into creating an internship position for him. He spent the summer of 2002 doing research and economic analysis to promote trade and investment in the United Kingdom. 

While interning at the consulate, Foraker made a positive impression on an employee at the accounting firm Grant Thorton.

“She said, ‘Hey, I have a job for you,’” said Foraker. “I didn’t have any work experience beyond internships, and this was with a good accounting firm researching public and private companies in the area. So, I said, ‘Sure!’”

After graduation in 2005, Foraker stayed on with Grant Thornton, but moved into their growing risk management department. By 2008, he was ready for the next step.

“I was looking for organizations where I could learn and grow and meet interesting people,” he said. “BBH has a great reputation and it’s a 200-year-old institution.” 

Foraker eventually landed a job building up the firm’s risk management team.

“That was my entry point,” he said. “It’s a place that promotes career mobility internally. I’ve stayed with the same team for 12 years and I’ve been promoted several times.”

Foraker said the two major roles he’s had in his career didn’t exist within those companies when he was a student at Brandeis. Positioning himself to be flexible and adaptable — both in pivoting from dreams of diplomacy to business, and in excelling in new roles — was critical to his success.

"At Brandeis I learned how to ask tough questions and break complex problems into manageable pieces,” said Foraker. “The MA program doesn’t fit an exact mold. That’s why graduates like me are able to differentiate ourselves from the crowd.”