McDonough School of Business
News Story

Georgetown Women MBAs in Finance Benefit from Innovative Courses, Powerful Faculty, and Abundant Resources

Each week in the Hedge Fund Investing course at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Erica Melito (MBA’20) recommended an investment strategy for a select company, identifying growth drivers, building valuation models, and providing a target price in investment memos that mirrors the work completed for investment committees at global hedge funds.

The assignments put into practice the concepts Melito learned in her core MBA classes, but what made the course remarkable were the renowned experts — chief investment officers, founders, and portfolio managers of multi-billion dollar funds — who visited each week from the company, industry, or trade Melito and her classmates researched in their memoranda.

Erica Melito (MBA’20)

“Week after week we were blown away by those who visited. The access was truly unparalleled. Each speaker engaged the class as if we were associates at their fund,” said Melito about the executives that adjunct professors Anne Dias, founder and CEO of Aragon Global, and Michael Barry, chief investment officer of Georgetown University, invited to discuss the students’ investment strategies and share their professional experience and advice.

“Seldom do people have the opportunity to hear firsthand from individuals who have been players in some of the biggest trades in the market, and Professors Dias and Barry brought us that unique, one-of-a-kind exposure,” Melito added.

The class proved transformative for Melito, because of not only what she learned, but also from whom she learned. Dias is one of the few women who founded and runs a hedge fund, and she brings extensive experience in U.S. and international public and private investments. She is “a fierce industry veteran and strong female leader who inspired all of us to worker harder than we ever thought possible,” Melito said.

The gender gap in the finance industry is well known. As career levels rise, female representation declines, with women accounting for just 26% of senior management and a mere 15% of executives, according to Mercer. Women leaders in investment services are rarer still, with less than 10% in senior management roles in venture capital and private equity, and only 3% in senior management roles at hedge funds.

Through rigorous finance classes like Hedge Fund Investing, powerful female faculty and alumnae, and resources specifically for women MBAs, Georgetown is working to strengthen the career trajectories of female graduates and improve the outlook for women in finance.

At the McDonough School of Business, women MBAs have numerous opportunities to grow their network and build their leadership skills. The school offers more than 40 student clubs and over 350 leadership positions. Melito joined the board of the Georgetown Finance Club, which launched a women in finance network last year. Georgetown Women in Business, another student organization, hosts career days, educational workshops, networking events, and an annual conference featuring prominent alumnae in business. For women MBAs with children, the school offers a nursing lounge and hosts family-friendly events like the Sippy Cup.

Women faculty such as Dias; Reena Aggarwal, McDonough Professor of Business Administration and executive director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policy; Allison Koester, associate professor of accounting; and Melissa Bradley, adjunct professor and entrepreneur who teaches impact investing, readily make themselves available to students.

“Georgetown offers an amazing network of strong, smart, and accomplished women,” said Hanna Shum (MBA’19), assistant vice president of investor relations at State Street. “The importance of community is very apparent at McDonough, and what makes it unique is that it embodies Georgetown’s mantra cura personalis, or care for the whole person. Through this network I received valuable career advice, expanded my knowledge of financial topics, was encouraged throughout MBA experience, and made genuine friendships.”

More than one in four Georgetown MBAs go into finance after graduation, making the financial services industry the most popular industry after consulting. The average starting salary for Georgetown MBAs in finance is $125,435, slightly higher than the average starting salary across all industries, and women earn the same starting salary as men for the same positions, according to Maureen Carpenter, assistant dean of Georgetown’s MBA Career Center.

Both female and male alumni are highly supportive of women seeking careers in the finance industry, Carpenter said, and men advocate for women at the McDonough School of Business and beyond.

It’s that supportive community that has built women leaders in finance and empowered current students like Melito to embrace opportunities in the field, both at Georgetown and well after graduation.

“There is truly no better way to understand how to find success in a male-dominated industry than to learn from those who have already done so,” she said.