Ilanit Shtein, MSMF’12
Math Concepts Applied.
Before starting the Mathematical Finance (MSMF) program at the School of Management Ilanit Shtein (MSMF’12) spent several years as a math and physics instructor for flight cadets at the Israeli Air Force Flight Academy and as a JAVA software engineer for Comverse, a technology firm. She earned a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at Tel-Aviv University. Passionate about software and math, Shtein sought out new intellectual challenges where she could apply her skills and grew interested in financial engineering.
When Shtein moved to Boston in 2009 with her husband where he was pursuing an MBA, she decided to look into a master’s in math finance. “I figured this would be a fascinating application of my math and engineering passions,” she says. “There are so many interesting problems to be solved in derivatives pricing, risk management, and algorithmic trading.”
Shtein became most excited about BU’s program after attending a financial masters programs fair where she met several BU representatives. Professor Lyasoff, founder of BU’s MSMF program, impressed her with his passion for the program and his commitment to balancing theory with practice. “I liked the fact that they try to keep it very mathematical and very practical,” she explains.
A subsequent visit to Assistant Professor Konstantino Kardaras’ stochastic calculus class helped reinforce her interest in BU. In fact, Kardaras became one of her favorite professors. “He explains everything so thoroughly,” says Shtein. “He teaches three-hour classes without bringing a single note with him. He remembers everything, and writes everything on the board. My notes from his classes are better than any book. He also tries to relate everything to practice.”
Summer Better Than Others.
During her first semester, Shtein attended on-campus presentations by several financial firms including Duff & Phelps, a financial advisory firm where she successfully landed an internship the following summer. “The MF program has a very strong relationship with Duff & Phelps,” she says. “There are four graduates of the program who work or have worked at the San Francisco office, which includes about a dozen team members, so they truly appreciate our program.”
At Duff & Phelps, Shtein worked on researching and developing a LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) market model for pricing interest rate derivatives, a project that drew on her coursework in stochastic calculus and fixed income securities.. “The MF program was a wonderful preparation for the hard work required to independently research and implement financial models,” she adds. Additionally, Shtein worked on projects for valuations of convertible stocks and compensation plans using Monte Carlo simulations and binomial trees.
She urges incoming students to take lots of notes but not to develop tunnel-vision about studying to the extent that they ignore professional development opportunities. “Start researching companies during the first semester,” she says. “Don’t apply without researching the company first. It’s better to apply to fewer firms that you’ve had a chance to meet with their professionals or research the company.” Shtein also suggests preparing for interviews during winter break, since second semester tends to be hectic.
Looking ahead, Shtein says there are still many aspects of math finance that she’d like to explore. She hopes to gain more professional and managerial experience before eventually returning to Israel to start her own financial practice.