'The best education is one that arms you with tools you didn't know you needed.'

Portfolio Manager Greg Wilson on What Makes the Albers Master of Science in Finance Program a Smart Investment

Greg Wilson circle portraitFor Seattle University Master of Science in Finance (MSF) alum Greg Wilson, '21 MSF, investing in his education and career was an easy decision—one that paid off before he even graduated with his master’s.

After earning his BA in accounting and psychology in California, Wilson returned home to Seattle, joining Pugh Capital Management as a financial analyst. Today, he’s a portfolio manager with Pugh—a career growth made possible by earning an MSF degree at the Albers School of Business and Economics.

Five years into his career as an analyst, Wilson was ready to take the next step, which required the right toolset and credentials. “I wanted a program that was focused and specific—one that allowed me to focus on hard skills within finance. I was also looking for a collaborative classroom environment.”

Wilson knew several Seattle University alums at Pugh, and they spoke highly of the mentorship part of the program, guest speakers, a program retreat, and opportunities for hands-on investment experience.

Learning from a Robust Network of Business Leaders

The strong Albers network within finance and business proved to be a clear advantage during the mentorship portion of Wilson’s program. He was matched with two veteran finance experts whose offices just happened to be across the street from his at Zevenbergen Capital Investments: Lisa Foley, Managing Director, and Herb Albin, Chief Fixed Income Officer and Client Portfolio Manager.

“These relationships have provided me with valuable insights into my career and the industry as a whole,” says Wilson, crediting his mentors with asking the tough questions, sharing their unbiased opinions, and providing realistic feedback. To this day, they still hold an open-door policy for him, proving that the relationships you build at Albers have a lasting impact on your professional network.

Beyond direct mentorship, Albers connects students to many additional industry experts throughout the program. One of the events that stood out to him was an event that brought dozens of guest speakers to Albers classes for an intensive, week-long examination of ethical issues in business. “I was able to learn from experts such as the CEO of Microsoft and the CEO of F5,” says Wilson. “Albers brought in world-class business leaders who discussed today’s most relevant issues, and we had the opportunity to interact with them more closely than we would otherwise.”

Getting Hands-On Investment Experience with the Redhawk Fund

One of the biggest highlights of Wilson’s MSF at Seattle University was his work with the student-run Redhawk Fund, an optional learning avenue for Albers students to participate in equity research, portfolio management, and professional presentations. Since its founding in 2009, the fund has grown from $250,000 to over $1.1 million.

“This was a phenomenal opportunity to join an equity management team with real money and real trades,” says Wilson, who covered telecom equities during his time working with the fund. “At Pugh, I worked primarily with fixed income and bonds, so this was a great way for me to stretch myself.”

While he came to Albers with five years of finance experience under his belt, several in his cohort were new to the field. Wilson touts the Redhawk Fund as being ideal for students of all experience levels: “It’s the best proxy for what a work environment and workload looks like. Each person has their own sector, and they report to the rest of the team. We used a decision-making framework: we did a trade, found out how it performed, then did it again. You don’t get that in a classroom.”

This teamwork also provides insight into the collaborative nature of portfolio management. “When you do well, everyone does well. When you do poorly, everyone does. You’re incentivized to step up your game, but also to help one other,” he says. “At the end of the day, we all sink or swim together.”

Considering a Career in Finance? Discover Your “Why”

Programs at Albers focus on educating the whole person. It’s not enough to pick a career in finance out of a hat; your education at Albers asks you to examine why you are here, what impact you want to have, and what skills you need to reach your goals. Passing on advice he was given by his mentors at Albers, Wilson asks anyone considering an MSF: “What is your why?”

“We often hold assumptions about what a career is like before we’ve stepped foot in it,” he notes. ‘Many people say they want to be in finance, but what does that mean to you? What area of finance are you interested in? What are your assumptions about this area?”

For him, the tools, hands-on experience, and mentorship he acquired at Albers affirmed that he was paving the right path forward. His why? Teamwork, opportunities to learn, and a clear impact.

Having played basketball and football throughout high school and college, one draw of portfolio management for Wilson was the team-based nature of the field. “You have your chief investment officer, a group of portfolio managers, and credit analysts. In order to be successful, all of you need to be on the same page—and root for each other’s interests,” he says.

In an ever-evolving, knowledge-based industry, portfolio management also allows room to continually learn and grow. “I love that every day is different. We are always doing research and keeping up with the news flow. Then, we make decisions based on what we know.”

Those decisions have clear results, too. “There’s a real report card with objective results: Did we perform the benchmark? How does each decision impact the portfolio, and what will we adjust based on what we’ve learned?” Wilson emphasizes the impact returns can have: “Returns you make often go to scholarships and projects that make a difference. I love being able to see that the returns we’ve helped a client make resulted in 1,000 scholarships.”

Learn more about Albers' Master of Science in Finance program and see what it can offer you.

Albers Schools of Business and Economics

June 28, 2023