ECON 3413 Financial Economics course at Stamford, taught by Dr. Smirnova, challenges students to apply financial concepts to business problems. In addition to following the textbook exposition of the material, students select a publicly traded company and analyze its financial performance. This semester-long project requires them to interact with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website to retrieve several years of company’s annual reports, use Excel to analyze financial statements, performing ratio analysis and modeling stock valuation, write a business report, and finally present their recommendation to the class whether or not to add that stock to a portfolio.
The students were very excited when Ashley Etheridge, Director of Business Planning at Charter Communications came to class on October 20, 2022. The goal of the visit was to shed the light on what the actual financial analyst at Charter does in Ashley’s line of business – Planning and Analysis. Ashley carefully described the set of skills that is necessary for success in a financials industry job: owning the task from start to finish; data analysis; accuracy; and polished presentations of results in written, analytical, and oral presentation forms.
Ashley also emphasized the use of Excel in business analytics. She suggested to create a story with data, think through model structure, and design validation checks and backup materials. She entertained the class with the discussion of the “Greatest Excel Spreadsheet Errors of All Time”.
Students were able to ask questions and learn about Ashley’s career trajectory and her personal accounts of mistakes she made and successes she experienced while her more than a decade at Charter. She concluded her visit showcasing internship and job opportunities that are currently available at Charter.
The benefits of inviting employers in the classroom could not be overstated. The employers bring a unique perspective that can complement any classroom content while providing industry and career insight. The effect on students is amplified when a presenter can relate their day-to-day activities on the job to the skills that students are acquiring in a course. The clarification of such connections voiced by an industry professional, helps students identify career readiness competencies that they are developing in a particular course and become ready for a successful interview for an internship or a job.