Fiona Shaba '12: A Bright Future in Finance

Fiona Shaba '12 has never seen Wall Street, the 1987 film depicting the dramatic world of corporate finance, but it is safe to say that the motivations underlying her interest in finance are very different from those of Gordon Gekko, the movie's ruthless corporate raider and chief antagonist. 

"I've always wanted to work with numbers. I enjoy data analysis and interpreting figures,” Shaba said. “I also have a genuine intellectual interest in how markets work." 

Shaba, an economics and statistics special major and international relations minor, had the opportunity to supplement the in-class training she received at Mount Holyoke with summer internships at premier financial institutions. 

"My statistics, corporate finance, and econometrics courses all strengthened my existing interests in finance, and my experiences with Grameen Bank and Citigroup helped confirm that this was what I wanted to do professionally," she said. 

In the summer following her first year at Mount Holyoke, Shaba worked as an intern at Grameen Bank in her native Bangladesh. The bank--a microcredit enterprise founded by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus--distributes small loans to Bangladesh's rural poor as a way of stimulating socioeconomic development and combating poverty. 

"The Grameen Bank is a unique institution that doesn't have much of a resemblance to most parts of the corporate world,” Shaba said. “Nonetheless, it introduced me to finance, and the experience helped me realize that I wanted to continue exploring.

This past summer, Shaba returned to Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka, to work as a financial control intern for Citigroup. She put her math background to work preparing the firm's financial reports, accounting records, and balance sheets. She also had the valuable opportunity to shadow an employee from each of Citigroup's departments, allowing her to get a better sense of the range of services offered within the company. 

"Shadowing professionals in the different departments gave me a really good idea of what skills were required for each of the jobs,” Shaba said. “Afterward, I realized that I wanted to work for a department that utilized a mixture of qualitative and quantitative skills. Corporate banking turned out to be one of those divisions that allowed me to work in a team and actively interact with clients, as well as exercise my math and analytical skills."

In June, Shaba will begin another internship with Citigroup, this time in a ten-week paid position in the corporate finance department at the company’s New York City headquarters.
According to Shaba, getting involved in on-campus activities has been invaluable in helping her develop the skill set needed to succeed in the world of finance. As the cochair of the Lyons Network--a student organization that connects current Mount Holyoke students with alumnae--she has honed her networking and leadership skills, and as treasurer of the 2012 class board, she has sharpened her managerial skills and been able to efficiently monitor all of the class's financial transactions. 

Shaba also works as a peer career assistant in the Career Development Center, where she helps students strengthen their resumes and cover letters and advises them on effective job search and interviewing techniques.

"My job at the Career Development Center has kept me informed of career-related activities on campus and motivated me to attend Woman's Day events hosted by companies like Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse,” Shaba said. “Also, helping other students develop career-building skills has inevitably forced me to focus on my own. I've revamped my resume something like 25 times."