Left to right: Jonah Trout (MBA '16), Christopher Copenhaver (MBA '16), Hilary Halpern (MBA '17), and Shuang Hao (MBA '16) present their findings to FinTech leaders.

 

Every semester, MBA students at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business have the opportunity to propose and complete an independent study course to explore real-world or academic projects that are outside the scope of currently offered electives. These independent studies, known as tutorials, offer students a unique and flexible way to explore topics in more depth and to work directly with distinguished professors.

This semester, first- and second-year MBA students completed several tutorials with faculty, from a report on the complex regulatory landscape of financial technology (FinTech) to an investigation of financial reporting and transparency issues in state-owned enterprises to work with venture capital (VC) firms in D.C. Students, who work in groups or on their own, receive class credit for their tutorials. The students presented their findings to representatives from a variety of prominent institutions, including major consulting firms, the World Economic Forum, and government agencies.

Jonah Trout (MBA ’16) was one of five MBA students to develop a FinTech report with Reena Aggarwal, director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policy and Robert E. McDonough Professor of Business Administration and professor of finance. Through the center’s partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Financing and Capital, the students interviewed policymakers, regulators, and private sector leaders, and presented their findings to senior leaders in the field.

“The tutorials are great because students can experience the value of a McDonough School of Business education,” Trout said. “Throughout the tutorial, I utilized many of the skills I fine crafted here, from project management to gap analysis. To be able to be a part of a project that increases awareness and understanding of the research that Georgetown McDonough provides was invaluable.”

Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, advised students who were able to customize their learning to fit particular interests in venture capital and entrepreneurship. One student used his tutorial to do a deep dive on an industry in which he is now actively launching his own business. Other students completed projects as part of the Georgetown Venture Fellows program.

“The students were able to integrate what they learn in the classroom with a deep experience working inside a venture capital firm,” Reid said. “The tutorial is a way to bring the learning together and explore topics of mutual interest to the student, the VC firm, and the faculty advisor. Tutorials provide a powerful method to integrate academic and real-world learning.”

Jason Schloetzer, associate professor of accounting, in collaboration with Bharat Kaku, teaching professor, helps review tutorial submissions and worked on the financial reporting and transparency investigation.

“Because of these tutorials, students have the chance to create an impact by learning new knowledge that is then shared with experts in the relevant fields,” he said. “Both the FinTech and ‘Transparency of State-Owned Enterprises’ tutorials are excellent examples of how students can make an influential mark.”

In Schloetzer’s tutorial, Olga Monfiston (MBA ’17), Anni Zhang (MBA ’17), and Aaron Lee (MBA ’17), explored the extent to which state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the electricity sector in 14 countries provide outside parties with financial reporting information. Transparency in financial reporting of SOEs can facilitate third-party assessments of accountability and can deter fraud and corruption. At the end of the tutorial, the students presented their work at the World Bank.

For Monfiston, the tutorial supplemented the knowledge she received in the classroom.

“It was a valuable learning opportunity,” she said. “The experience of presenting our research findings to more than 40 World Bank professionals from different parts of the world was tremendous.”