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Student Experiences International Finance in East Asia

Written by David Owens

Jackelyn Branco '14

Walk into any office in the United States, and you’ll likely see closed doors and walled-off cubicles. That’s not what Jackelyn Branco ’14 found when she went to Hong Kong last summer to intern with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Instead, all audit staff, other than the senior managers and partners, gathered at a large conference table to work.

“I realized that in Hong Kong and most Asian cultures, the business world is more collaborative, whereas in the U.S. it’s a more individualist attitude,” Branco said.

Hong Kong was just one of the places where Branco had the opportunity to learn the inner workings of different cultures and markets. She gained an international sensibility and a love for finance and accounting through the School of Business at Ithaca College.

Branco's first opportunity to travel to China was through a summer study-abroad trip led by Hormoz Movassaghi, professor of finance and international business. The trip focused on achievements and challenges that China has faced in the international business ecosystem as their economy continues to expand exponentially. It also gave Branco a broader sense of cultural awareness.

“No matter where you go in the world, whether it be for business or for pleasure, you need to be able to accept and embrace the country’s culture,” she said.

In addition to studying abroad, Branco was a senior analyst and portfolio manager for the Core Trading Consultants (CTC). CTC is a student-run organization that manages the Ithaca College Investment Club mutual fund, which holds assets valued around $250,000. Through CTC, Branco had the chance to integrate what she was learning in the classroom with the real-world experience of research and trading.

The skills Branco developed through her classes and CTC complemented the experiences she had in her internships. Branco led the health care sector of CTC. The summer of her sophomore year, she interned at Hoffmann La Roche Pharmaceuticals. The following summer, she was asked by the company to come back in another internship position as a budgets and contracts analyst, managing oncology clinical trial budgets.

“Previously the company didn't have an efficient way to track clinical trial material returns,” Branco said. “I was able to create Excel templates that easily let us match the drug shipment returns. I attribute my success to the Business Systems and Technology class.”

Branco was also able to take the Bloomberg Aptitude Test (BAT) on campus. The BAT is an exam that is commonly used by businesses to evaluate job applicants. After scoring above the global average on the test, she was invited to Bloomberg headquarters in New York City, where she attended a networking event with recruiters from Citigroup, Bloomberg, and Deutsche Bank.

Branco was also president of the IC chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an honors organization for students and professionals working in finance, and she organized multiple New York City networking trips for the group’s members.

After graduating from IC, Branco took an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City where she was selected by PwC to travel to Hong Kong for an international assignment. In Hong Kong, Branco gained a broader perspective of international finance, including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s regulations and practices.

“I felt like Ithaca prepared me really well for working at PwC and being very client-facing,” Branco said. “My classes and the real-time portfolio gave me a hands-on approach in learning how the markets operate.”

Branco is now pursuing her master’s in accounting at the University of Virginia through a one-year graduate program. She’s accepted an offer to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Charlotte, North Carolina, after she graduates.

Branco credits what she learned at Ithaca for her success in graduate school and her budding career.

“I’ve been able to really leverage what I learned from my coursework and extracurricular activities, especially now in my graduate studies,” Branco said. “I haven’t met anyone in grad school yet who’s had my hands-on experience.”



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