Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CFN: What's Up Next?

Consortium MBA students head into the home stretch of the school year--many deeply involved in another round of unrelenting coursework. First-year students are happily branching out into courses that take them beyond the core and more toward their real interests. Finance professionals, meanwhile, are in the throes of the business calendar year with targets to meet, costs to manage, and projects to get through. The slowdown of holiday yearend and the arduous sessions of yearend appraisals are done--thank goodness.

The Consortium Finance Network is falling in line and hopes to move to next steps, as well. What's next? CFN's steering committee has tentative plans and a bundle of ideas. As usual, input and assistance of any kind are welcome.

The webinar series has been an efficient, effective way to present topical material, especially on specific subjects. CFN has sponsored three since last August. Attendance varies, based on the topic and time of day. Presenters have been excited about their subject matter (microfinance or career management) and have summarized the material into neat, useful presentations. Participants have learned a lot in the 90-minute sessions.

CFN hopes to continue with webinars. On tap is a webinar on effective networking in the financial industry. The presenter will show there are right and wrong ways in networking.

Another possible webinar will focus on describing the dozens of opportunities for MBA's in finance at just one large financial institution. Not all MBA's in finance necessarily want to be (or can be) equity research analysts or M&A bankers. At a major bank, MBA's can be hired into systems and technology positions, corporate strategy roles, or financial management (forecasting and budgeting) jobs. And still be stimulated and handsomely paid.

The new class of Consortium MBA students will be announced soon. The annual Orientation Program will follow shortly afterward (this time in Orlando in June). Like last year, CFN will prepare and distribute its second-annual guide for MBA students in finance. Topics include preparing for recruiting, informational interviews, technical skills, and effective relationships with mentors. Topics will also cover finance, diversity, suggested reading, and non-traditional opportunities.

New students will be invited to join CFN via Linkedin. CFN and other Consortium special-interest groups hope to have a meaningful presence at the Orientation Program to introduce themselves to students right away.

Once again, CFN will appoint School Champions, Consortium students who report and share what's going on on their respective campuses. They note trends, general worries, and signs of opportunities, and inform us which banks and firms are swarming campus or not. This year, on some campuses, School Champions have been prompt, lively and eager to share their experiences and just as eager to learn about what's going on elsewhere.

After 2009's successful kick-off event at the Federal Reserve in New York, CFN still hopes to have a similar networking event in New York in 2010. Once again, the event would feature a panel of industry experts and insiders offering their perspectives on relevant financial issues. Just as important, the event will give alumni, sponsors and other CFN supporters an opportunity to meet and interact.

CFN will assess the current mentor program for first-year students and try to list lessons learned from this past school year. The mentor program has helped many students and introduced them to more contacts and possible opportunities. But the program can be improved, especially by ensuring students and mentors are properly matched. CFN, in turn, hopes to roll out the mentor program again for new students in finance in 2010.

Often there is a bustle of ideas about what CFN can do next and about how more people can be involved. As with all organizations, execution, planning, costs and timing are important factors.

One special idea on the table is to find ways to help alumni and other experienced professionals link up career coaches. CFN would act as a vehicle to introduce CFN members to designated people who can guide them in transitions, in long-term planning, or in a specific area (presentations, defining strengths, doing deals, a technical topic, managing people, interfacing with clients, etc.).

Another idea up for discussion is for CFN to administer an investment fund to permit students or younger alumni to implement and share some of their investment ideas and to measure performance.

Others may have ideas and should share them with the steering commitee. Feedback is always encouraged and even lets the committee know that CFN is getting one step closer in meeting objectives.

Tracy Williams

No comments:

Post a Comment