For Nnadozie Ekeocha and Ziao (Ainsley) Yan, both 2018 Carey Business School MS in Finance graduates, their next career stop saw them travel just a few miles uptown to the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, as two of the newest members of the Johns Hopkins Investment Office. In their roles, they are helping to shape the financial future of the institution from which they just graduated.
Indeed, Ekeocha and Yan have ascended to lofty financial heights in short order: the office is responsible for managing more than $6 billion in endowment and other assets for the university and the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Both Carey grads work in risk analytics and risk reporting. They are part of the office’s risk management team, breaking down investment portfolios by region and by sector, helping to devise investment strategies to better inform investment decisions moving forward. In the process, they are also developing more and stronger analytical tools to model risk.
Ekeocha and Yan, who both started in their full-time roles within a few months after graduation, credit their Carey degrees and, in particular, several courses, for preparing them for the fast-paced and diverse challenges they face every day on the job.
Yan cites two courses as being especially helpful in her present duties: Advanced Portfolio Management and Financial Modeling and Valuation. She also credits the Business Communication course with building her social skills and interacting more effectively with her work colleagues.
“These three courses really helped me, and also helped to develop my interest in certain areas, and which areas I want to work in,” she said.
Ekeocha also thanks Financial Modeling and Valuation for giving him the skill set and “strong foundation” to succeed in his present position. In addition, Investments and Fixed Income are two courses he finds especially valuable.
“Investments is a big help with conversations and approaching others. I realized that a lot of the concepts that I learned in that course helped me … to make a valuable contribution to the team in finance and other areas of the job,” he said. Those three courses … gave me a very strong background that I needed to really succeed in this job right now.”
Both Yan and Ekeocha were attracted to the unique challenges and opportunities for growth that their jobs entail.
In large firms, observed Yan, people are often responsible for a narrow discipline of work, but in endowments, “you can see really the big picture” and how all elements of the operation work together. “We’re always creating some new things, we’re always being really innovative, we’re always thinking whether we can do better,” she added.
“I was very interested and intrigued with the idea of working in an investment firm, from the angle of an endowment, from the angle of an institution,” said Ekeocha. “That’s what really attracted me to the job.”
And what of the future?
“I see myself in the next five years running my own venture capital or private equity fund that would be focused primarily on tech or high-growth companies within the Sub-Saharan African region,” said Ekeocha, who is originally from Nigeria. I think the experience I’ve gotten [in the Investments Office] has been very, very helpful. I meet with portfolio managers and the best world-class managers in the investment universe … just getting ideas from them and seeing how they think about investment strategy, I think the investment office has given me such a great opportunity to learn these things, things that I wouldn’t necessarily learn in any other job.”
For her part, Yan, a Chinese native, wants to bring the skills learned at Carey and in her present job to a Chinese or other international company, including the methods of top-ranked U.S. financial systems. In addition, her “entrepreneurial spirit” makes starting her own business attractive, as many in her family have done. “That’s where my passion and interest” lie, she said.