“I've always been a numbers person. I love being able to find answers and know I have the facts to support them,” says Jasnoor Kaur ’19. As a financial analyst at Fidelity Investments, she uses a diverse set of skills to help companies make important decisions. She needs to not only understand financial mechanisms and underpinnings but also interpret the context surrounding them.
An International Business major who concentrated in Finance, Spanish, and Applied Analytics, Kaur’s education gave her the tools to make sense of complicated financial information and apply it to the real world. “There is a certain thought process that you need to be an effective financial modeler," she explains. “You need to be able to say, ‘This is the data I have, but what am I going to do with it? Where do I need to get to and what are the connections that I can make?'”
Making the connections
Kaur chose to major in International Business because it spoke to her love of travel and to her understanding that, in an increasingly connected world, all business is global. She also liked that she could pair it with other areas such as Finance and Analytics to add context to her studies. “The International Business program helps you take what you learn in the classroom, and use it in real life,” she says. “That involves everything from doing projects that simulate actual business situations to seeing how business is done in other countries.”
“They all seemed really interested in my findings. They seemed surprised a student was able to do that level of research.”
That mix of knowledge and experience allows her to see where things are headed – and figure out how to achieve the best outcome. “When people think of finance, everyone just imagines that we’re crunching numbers all day. But there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” she says. “Being able to adapt to and figure out different environments and surroundings is something I’m glad I've been able to work on at both Bryant and at Fidelity.”
The soft skills Kaur honed during her time at the University aid her in being able to effectively communicate her findings. “Bryant works hard to develop well-rounded students,” says Kaur. “I’m glad I could both focus on my business goals and have that liberal arts perspective as well.”
Applying the lessons of the past
For her Honors thesis, Kaur, mentored by Professor of Finance Jack Trifts and Assistant Professor of Finance Cathy Zheng, put her modeling skills to work, researching the dot-com bubble to profile financial successes and failures – and to use what she’d learned to predict the future of current companies such as Tesla. Looking back, she sees that her thesis work "improved my critical thinking skills and gave me a different perspective on the way to approach new projects,” Kaur says.
“She asked me, ‘How do you know so much about PowerPoint and presenting? How do you know so much about Excel?’ And I told her, ‘this is everything I've learned in my classes.’”
“Having a long-term project like this allows you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can improve them,” she notes.
Kaur was invited to share her thesis at the Southeast Decision Sciences Institute Conference, which was so impressed with her analysis that she was asked to present in the faculty track instead of the student track. Her presentation, to faculty members from universities across the country and around the world, netted invaluable feedback. “They all seemed really interested in my findings,” she says. “They seemed surprised a student was able to do that level of research.”
While studying abroad in Vina del Mar, Chile, during her junior year, Kaur applied to a range of summer internships to gain practical experience, including a corporate finance internship with Fidelity. The University’s Amica Center for Career Education helped her bridge the distance by setting up a Skype interview with the company. “I think Bryant was extremely helpful in helping me get my foot in the door,” she says.
“Bryant has been an extremely crucial part of my life, and I don’t think I’d be half the person that I am if I hadn't made the connections that I made there.”
During her internship at Fidelity, Kaur supported the company’s personal investing business unit, working closely with one of the directors. “I think she was pretty impressed with my skillset,” Kaur says. “She asked me, ‘How do you know so much about PowerPoint and presenting? How do you know so much about Excel?’ And I told her, ‘This is everything I've learned in my classes.’”
When the internship concluded, Kaur was offered a financial analyst position, which she happily accepted. “I love the critical thinking aspect of my job. I love meeting new people and working on new projects, and I love the fact that I'm able to continue to grow and keep developing the financial skills I learned at Bryant in such a supportive environment,” she says.
The way forward
Ultimately, one of the biggest lessons she learned at Bryant, Kaur notes, applies equally to her life and to her career. “If you can say, ‘Ok, so this is where I stand today, and this is where I want to be tomorrow, and then take the time to develop yourself and seize the opportunities to achieve that – I think that's something that is extremely valuable,” she says.
Her time at Bryant has helped her to do just that. “Bryant has been an extremely crucial part of my life, and I don’t think I’d be half the person that I am if I hadn't made the connections that I made there,” says Kaur. “Bryant will always hold a special part in my heart.”