Carnegie Mellon University

Olga Nekrasova, MSCF '05

What triggered your interest in quantitative finance?

My first job after college was structuring weather derivatives at XL Capital, and I wanted to deepen my understanding on the math models behind it. My work involved doing statistical analysis and working closely with quants, who introduced me to the idea of masters programs in quantitative finance.

What were some of the jobs you had prior to your current role?

After graduating from MSCF, I worked at Goldman Sachs as a Structurer of Fixed Income and Emerging Markets and then moved to Morgan Stanley as a Trader of Structured Products. I have been a Financial Engineer in the Derivatives Valuation Service at Bloomberg for the last five years and recently moved into a sales role managing long term and complex enterprise sales. I would not have been able to get these opportunities without the MSCF program, no doubt about it. 

What are some of your daily responsibilities? What do you enjoy most?

I manage the overall complex sales process of enterprise risk products – exploring the needs of clients, identifying and developing opportunities, managing trials and defining needs and gaps. I work closely with product managers and risk specialists on defining product priorities and train stakeholders internally and externally. The most rewarding part is adding value to clients by improving their workflow, seeing and filling their gaps on a firm-wide level and serving as a solutions architect advisor.

What are the skills required to be successful in this field?

You should be knowledgeable in cross asset products, risk management and regulations as well as possess strong communication skills and the ability to engage with a variety of stakeholders.

How did the MSCF program prepare you for this career?  

The program added quantitative muscle, credibility and gave me access to a network of alumni and professors, through which I found my job. It was hands-on and market-oriented, which helped prepare me for many aspects of my career. The courses in statistics, risk management, econometrics and programming were all very helpful – especially the course on studies in financial engineering. My work after I finished the program was basically a continuation of this class, and the projects we did gave me many things to discuss in my interviews.

What attracted you to MSCF compared to other programs?

I sampled classes in the other prominent programs, and I found them to be too large, not very personal and quite formal. I sat in on classes in the MSCF program and met current students and professors. It just felt right for me –a great balance of rigorous hands-on work and a strong math focus, yet practical and not purely theoretical. I also appreciated the atmosphere of collaboration and the intimate feel of the program. I am still very close with my classmates after all these years.

What would you say to a prospective student considering the MSCF program?

The program has always been very in tune with cutting-edge industry topics and has been evolving with the markets – while a big portion of students are going to trading or quant groups, the program provides a good starting point for other career paths, so be open-minded. It stands out from other programs by having a tight community of alumni, professors and current students. I would also encourage prospective students to start following market themes of interest outside of school now.