Finance Academy equips the next generation of executives

Finance Academy 2016.

Representing New Era Cap Co., Qiya Huang, left, and her team deliver a presentation for the 2016 Finance Academy. (Photo: Kelly Barry)

Release Date: May 13, 2016 This content is archived.

“The teams’ presentations showcased their skills in complex data analysis and critical thinking. ”
Jeremy Sharkey, BS ’93, Director of Operations
Thermo Fisher Scientific

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After their first year of the three-semester Finance Academy program, 35 University at Buffalo School of Management finance master’s students are armed with real-world experience and a strong set of soft skills.

Finance Academy runs concurrently with the students’ academic coursework. During the first and third semesters, students focus on soft skills development and attend workshops and company visits to network and learn best practices. In the second semester, they work in teams alongside experienced executives to complete and present real-world projects.

“By the end of the program, students gain a better understanding of U.S. business practices, expand their professional networks and improve skills like teamwork, data modeling and public speaking,” says Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah, director of Finance Academy and clinical assistant professor of organization and human resources.

Meanwhile, corporate executives are able to mentor a team of students, who develop analytical projects that may be implemented by their company.

“Finance Academy enabled us to connect talented managers with talented students,” says Jeremy Sharkey, BS ’93, director of operations at Thermo Fisher Scientific, who worked with two student teams. “The shared learning opportunity helped our coaches hone their leadership abilities with the future workforce, while the coaches helped the students in their organizational and professional development.”

This year, 35 students participated in Finance Academy, as well as six executives and seven coaches from the following organizations: First Niagara Financial Group, Girl Scouts of Western New York, Harper International, New Era Cap Co. and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

The winning team with Jeremy Sharkey, director of operations, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Derek Mohr, clinical associate professor of finance; and Paul Tesluk, dean and professor.

This past spring semester culminated with a competition on April 23, when the student teams presented their projects to a panel of judges.

The winning team, representing Thermo Fisher Scientific, was Zhang Chi of Shandong, China; Yang Lei of Taiyuan, China; Huang Xianliang of Nanchang, China; Zhu Xinhai of Zhongshan, China; and Jiang Yi of Qinhuangdao, China.

With guidance from Sharkey and Todd Regelsberger, BS ’91, finance director, the team completed a portfolio rationalization project. During their presentation, they delivered recommendations for targeted sales growth and improvements in costs and productivity to increase profits at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

“The teams’ presentations showcased their skills in complex data analysis and critical thinking,” Sharkey says. “They were resilient and learned how to work together to meet deadlines while organizing their thoughts and actions into a product they could all be proud of. It was an honor to be part of the 2016 program.”

UB School of Management judges for this year’s competition were Paul Tesluk, dean and professor; Katherine Ferguson, associate dean for academic programs; Erin O’Brien, assistant dean and director of graduate programs; Cristian Tiu, associate professor of finance; and Elizabeth Mohr, clinical assistant professor of finance. 

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

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Matthew Biddle
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School of Management