Keeping MSF in the Family

Keeping MSF in the familyPete Chikos and Kay Ree Chikos Tomoson are the only father-daughter team ever taught by Master’s in Finance (MSF) chair Jot Yau. Chikos retired from his engineering job at Boeing five years ago and now works part-time while being an outdoor enthusiast. Tomoson has been teaching mathematics for the last 10 years.

The Albers Brief caught up with the two last spring and asked how they both ended up in the same master’s program, which is marking its 30th year. One fun thing happened in that some of the professors made the connection between the two of them and others were quite surprised at Kay’s graduation that they were related.

Why an MSF?

Chikos: 'I always wanted to get a master’s. I’d gotten involved in investing and thought of pursuing it after the kids were grown.'

Tomoson: 'I earned my undergrad in math from SPU (Seattle Pacific University), with a minor in business. At first I struggled to find the career path I wanted to take. I dabbled in engineering and business, and eventually became a math teacher.

I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself though, so I considered taking my master’s to open more doors to future opportunities. When I talked to my dad, he mentioned how he had a great experience at SU’s MSF program. I saw my dad do it well, enjoy it, and finish it well. It inspired me to take it.'

How applicable was the education to your work?

Chikos: 'I was able to use it at work as an engineer/manager at Boeing. Before [I took my MSF], I’d wonder what the finance people were doing to us. After MSF, I was a lot more compassionate!

What I learned in my studies has proven to be beneficial in everyday life. It was easier for me to buy part of a startup company that my wife worked for, and with the MSF knowledge we ventured out and became the first investors in a second startup after my wife retired. This company has taken off and has grown into a multi-million-dollar business. It’s rewarding to be part of these ventures, and it’s invigorating to see these young companies grow.'

Tomoson: 'With MSF, I grew into teaching calculus. For me, being a true student made me a better teacher. Just like my dad, I felt so much energy and got so much out of it.'

Did any classes stand out?

Chikos: 'Econometrics with Bridget Hiedemann. It was really hard for me and I barely I got a C. Kay, on the other hand, did really well and ended up with an A and because of her teaching she had a special connection with Bridget, unlike her dad.' 

Tomoson: 'The curriculum was constant with new classes like financial modeling. I liked the classes on entrepreneurship, hedge funds, portfolio management. I also enjoyed Cathy Cao’s early investment classes. I liked her teaching style.'

Any advice for individuals looking into an MSF?

Chikos: 'I always believed in asking a lot of questions, which led to more students asking questions, which always spurred the learning process. Ask questions -- it will lead to a better understanding of the concepts. You’ll get the most value out of the program by staying curious.'

Tomoson: 'No matter where you are right now, you don’t have to know where you will be in the future. It’s all interconnected. Keep an open mind and try to enjoy it. Trust that it’ll be part of your story.'

Interested in following Pete and Kay in earning an MSF? Learn more about the program on the MSF page

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