Smeal's Master's In Corporate Finance produces first graduates

An article following up on several graduates from the first graduating Smeal Master's in Corporate Finance class in 2020.

In display of its success, the Penn State Smeal College of Business’ one-year residential Master’s in Corporate Finance program produced its first ever graduates this past year, supplying them with valuable skillsets as they take on roles with nationally known companies. 

The program allows students to earn an advanced STEM-designated finance degree in just one year by developing critical thinking skills in areas such as corporate strategy, evaluation, market analysis, capital budgeting, mergers and acquisitions, investment analysis, and more to be successful in the corporate world. 

Shravan Kumar is among the program’s first graduates and is now employed as a tax consultant with Deloitte, which provides audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to worldwide brands. 

Kumar currently works as a tax consultant but hopes his Master’s in Corporate Finance degree will allow him to transition into his desired career as a financial consultant. 

“I’m hopeful the corporate finance program will help me in terms of career movement,” Kumar said. “The curriculum has taught me specific skills and knowledge that are essential in becoming a successful financial consultant.” 

Kumar reflected on two courses he took that were particularly useful — financial evaluations taught by Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance Jason Lunn and portfolio management taught by Associate Professor of Finance Timothy Simin. 

Dedicated faculty members who prioritize their students are a fundamental element to the program’s success — and helped drive Kumar’s decision to join Penn State’s Smeal College of Business above other universities’ master’s programs.

While living in India and working at a shipping company doing tax work, Kumar decided it was time to pursue his goals of shifting into the finance realm. He began researching universities with master’s degrees in various concentrations of finance and found out about Smeal’s corporate finance program. 

It wasn’t until he reached out to alumni and finance professionals on LinkedIn when he realized Smeal would be the best avenue to achieve his goals. 

“The people I talked to explained how incredible the networking opportunities are and how easy it is to make connections,” Kumar said. “From there, I was able to reach out to faculty members within the program and talk directly to the professors, which really stood out to me as a major benefit.” 

The format of the program allows students to begin with web resident coursework in the summer and finish in two semesters at University Park. Kumar described transitioning from his life in India to then becoming a Penn Stater as being a “huge cultural shift,” but one that he embraced on a daily basis. 

“The university is full of so many activities and career fairs and events,” Kumar said. “If you’re considering this program, you need to prioritize your course load, which is rigorous due to the one-year curriculum — but you also should soak in the experience and enjoy being a part of this university.” 

Vineet Champaneria is another 2020 graduate from the Master’s in Corporate Finance program. He’s currently employed as a software engineer at Wells Fargo Securities. In his role, he works with the investment portfolio team and does full-stack software development for an investment bank. 

Champaneria said earning a master’s degree in corporate finance after his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering helped him illustrate to employers his cross-functional capabilities ­— and allowed him to secure a position on a team where he’s the only employee without a degree in computer science. 

“I liked that you didn’t need any prior finance knowledge to be successful in this program,” Champaneria said. “The courses didn’t just teach me finance — they taught me how to think differently and truly transformed the way I attack complex problems.” 

His advice to prospective master’s students is that the program is “worth what you’re willing to put into it” — emphasizing that hard work and time management are necessary in a student’s overall success. 

“The program offers many opportunities for you to land a killer job, but you still need to put in the work to make that happen,” Champaneria said. 

Champaneria also said, however, that he doesn’t believe students within the Master’s in Corporate Finance need to be sold on any particular career path in order to leverage this program for their benefit. 

“You will learn a ton of useful skills that can be applied to a wide array of problems,” Champaneria said. “If you’re looking for a way to get a foot in the door for a finance career, this program will certainly help you do that.”

Published January 2021