Alumni Interviews — Matthew Pierce (’09)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year we publish brief Alumni Updates where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Matthew Pierce (’09), who is also a member of our inaugural BIC Alumni Advisory Board. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in the spring of 2009 with a degree in Finance from the Hankamer (business school).

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

Beginning in the summer after my freshman year through the start of my senior year, I had the opportunity to intern with Chevron in Houston. This experience and the relationships I built within the company were essential in me getting a job offer my senior year. This was just as the financial crisis hit and removed me from a lot of the stress my classmates were feeling.

At Chevron, I spent most of my career in the Global Supply & Trading group. I started in the international products finance group supporting gas and jet fuel traders. I then made the switch to accounting for deepwater exploration. It was during this time that I took advantage of Chevron’s education reimbursement benefit and got my Master of Finance degree from Tulane University. I ended my career at Chevron working on the natural gas trading floor in downtown Houston before taking a leave of absence to accept a full-tuition fellowship at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School to study full-time as a graduate student in the Accelerated One-Year MBA program in 2014/15.

While a student at Emory, I specialized in data analytics and corporate finance, made life-long friendships with my classmates, especially the international exchange students—from France, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Italy, and Denmark. So deep were these connections that I delayed my graduation to study abroad at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. I got the opportunity to make even more lifelong friendships and travel across Europe to reconnect with my old friends. To this day, I make a point to go to Europe once a year to reconnect.

After graduating from Emory, I joined a management consulting firm ScottMadden in Atlanta, where I worked on a wide range of projects both in the United States and internationally. This is where a good portion of my BIC experience came into play—research, analytical methods, and critical thinking skills. The early part of my work was working with utility companies as they reviewed major capital projects, evaluated executive performance, and developed competitive strategy plans. Much of my later work at the firm was spent in Boston working on billion-dollar rate cases.

I left ScottMadden in 2017 to take a role at Delta Air Lines, Manager of Financial Analysis. My role centered on developing a valuation methodology for jet engine trading and brokerage. In my time there I valued well over 500 million USD in assets around the world and developed a series of white papers on best practices in circulation at Delta today.

My next role took me into banking with Citigroup in Atlanta. I served as a Vice President in private label credit products. This role, like my time at Delta, was focused on financial analysis and modeling. I was responsible for coordinating with a marketing team to evaluate their interest rate programs and promotional financing. I developed Pro-forma financial statements, return on capital analysis, and special initiative valuations—with an annual budget of 90+ million USD.

Late last year, I left Citigroup for an exciting opportunity in a newly formed bank: Truist—the result of the merger between SunTrust and BB&T banks. The company created a new, very specialized executive leadership program under the CFO and executive vice president of the bank. In this new accelerator program, I enter the bank at the Senior Vice President level. Most of my initial assignments involve working on the strategy for key industry banking consulting and further shaping cross-functional strategic priorities curated by our Executive Leadership Team.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

It’s been over ten years since I graduated from Baylor, and the most valuable things I learned while at Baylor came from my time in BIC. I truly believe that my preference to critical thinking in a diverse world started in classes like Rhetoric and World Cultures. In the workplace when dealing with clients and coworkers, even the most basic of perspectives in understanding the roots belief and culture have been critical in building relationships—especially leading teams and working internationally. And the practice of critical research and reading past the noise has become the true advantage I’ve seen in myself and my classmates.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

My favorite experiences and the ones I still talk about today are our excursions to the religious centers (the Hindu temple, synagogue, and the mosque in World Cultures). Like I said before, being exposed to so many different perspectives and even things like having a meal with someone creates an appreciation of diversity.

The second, most grueling part of my BIC experience: the two-semester game of assassin the entire 2005/6 BIC played my freshman year in Alexander, Memorial, and in large-group. It got so intense that the professors had to establish large group as an immunity zone.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

1) Stick with it

You’ll be tempted when the classes get harder and your friends in other programs seem to have it easier—but don’t quit! The family you develop in the BIC will be greater than most any other connections you’ll make at the university. The very exercise you’re giving your mind through your writing and reading of primary texts are leaps and bounds more constructive to you long-term.

2) Embrace the Socratic method

Another temptation for you might be to sit quietly in class (large or small group) because you feel you have nothing to add to the discussion or just want to relax—but don’t. Embrace the discussion and the Socratic method. Even stating the obvious is better than saying nothing—it’s the practice of speaking up that’s most important.

3) Don’t be afraid to adjust your plan

Part of the reason I joined the BIC was because I thought it would be good preparation for my ultimate goal—law school. Almost everything I did up until my first master’s degree was with that intent. Then, I realized that wasn’t something I wanted to do—and this was after accepting admission to University of Houston Law Center and being 2 months out from the first day of classes. I realized I had enjoyed the life I built and the career path I started in business more.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Don’t be afraid to start something (a project, a job, a leadership role) when you don’t know what to do or how to do it. One thing I learned being in the BIC was that you grow in a role more than before it. If you think you’re highly prepared for a job, you’re probably overqualified and undershooting.

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