In Rigorous New Program, Three Wellesley Students Learn Key Financial Concepts and Intern at Top Companies

July 26, 2016

Three Wellesley students were selected to participate in Girls Who Invest, a rigorous new program that teaches core financial and investment concepts to women who are rising college sophomores and juniors. Thirty students from various backgrounds and majors, hailing from 13 schools, were chosen for the program, which was created by Seema R. Hingorani, the former chief investment officer for the New York City Retirement Systems. It includes four weeks of instruction at the University of Pennsylvania and a six-week paid summer internship in asset management.

"Our hope is that Girls Who Invest will help transform the asset management industry by creating a pipeline of talented and qualified young women and inspiring them to join the business on investment teams," said Hingorani. "Despite recent studies that show the positive impact women’s perspectives have on the bottom line, the number of women in these positions in the industry remains startlingly low."

The program began in June, when participants attended classes at Penn each day from 9am to 4:30pm to learn about asset management, credit, accounting, auctions, real estate, and pricing stocks and bonds. The group also heard lunchtime lectures from industry leaders, CEOs, and CFOs; visited major financial firms; and rang the New York Stock Exchange bell on Wall Street.

The variety of activities was especially useful to Daphka Alius '19, a math major who grew up in Haiti and is "testing all of the waters," she said, before she chooses a career path. "We got a lot of perspective from young women working in the industry and from older women who have senior positions," she said. "The most surprising thing is that the industry has acknowledged there is not as much diversity as possible, and is very supportive of girls who want to invest."

Gina Scorpiniti '19, an economics major, said the classroom segment of the program gave her a deeper understanding of various sectors in the financial industry that she didn’t know much about, such as private equity and hedge funds. "I know I want to work in investment banking for a few years after I graduate, but I don’t know whether I want to do investment banking or asset management in the long-term just yet," she said.

The coursework was challenging, Scorpiniti said; participants had to work in small groups to write a paper and create a PowerPoint presentation explaining why they would recommend that clients buy or sell stock from a particular company. Scorpiniti, who enjoys analyzing data, took the lead on that part of the project. "To figure out if stocks are overvalued, you need to see data in unique ways, and see things differently than everyone else does," she said. "That's something I've learned to do at Wellesley."

Mathangi Ganesh '19, a computer science major, said she was attracted to Girls Who Invest because it provides four weeks of preparation prior to the six-week internship. "Usually, interns are just thrown into an unfamiliar environment. Girls Who Invest not only promised to prepare me, but also to support me throughout the internship with mentors," said Ganesh, who is interning at Man Numeric Investors in Boston.

The program has taught her the importance of building relationships, not just connections. “Seema, the founder of Girls Who Invest, told us, ‘Stop using the word networking. That is not what this is about.’ She taught us how important it is to truly connect with and understand other people in every area of life,” she said.

Those comments delight Betty Hung '91, an economics and Chinese studies double major who is the operating principal at Vista Equity Partners in Austin, Texas (where Alius is interning), and a board member of Girls Who Invest. "Private equity funds perform better when they have women in their ranks. We know this from research and from our own experience at Vista," she said. "The best way to on-ramp young women is to give them the skills and support they need to create the best opportunities for their future."

Scorpiniti, who is working at Oaktree Capital in Los Angeles, said the program has done just that. "Girls Who Invest helped me improve my communication skills in a professional setting," she said. "In my internship, I have lunches with colleagues all the time, so I am using the skills that I learned and improving them on a daily basis."