Developing Skills for Professional Success

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At Stuart School of Business, Veronika Shestakova was both a top student—she was tapped for membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society—and active outside the classroom, including as a sector leader for the student-led Stuart Investments organization and a member of a team that finished among the top 20 in the Zurich Enterprise Challenge, a global risk analysis competition. It’s a combination, she says, that prepared her for success in her career.

“The most important skill I learned at Illinois Tech was team management,” says Shestakova, who graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration and Master of Science in Finance. “Classes, student organizations, and student competitions involved group projects. It was necessary to learn how to work with people with different backgrounds, different learning and work styles.”

Also high on her list are the critical thinking skills she developed in her courses and opportunities through Stuart Investments to sharpen her leadership and project management abilities.

“I believe that my participation in the Zurich Enterprise Challenge helped me to get my first job after graduation,” she says. During the global semifinal round, her team worked on a real-life case with a client of Zurich Insurance, building risk models and presenting recommendations. “At every job interview I was able to talk about my experience building these models.”

Shestakova began her career at Eurex Exchange. Now she’s an independent model review analyst at HSBC in Chicago, working in the Risk Department to independently validate the company’s models. “My job is to perform comprehensive model reviews to assess conceptual soundness, data integrity, performance, implementation, and adherence to regulatory and internal requirements,” she explains. “During the review process I work with model developers to understand the design of the model and analyze all aspects of model development.”

As she did as a student, Shestakova seeks out new avenues for professional development. She has been invited to speak at several international conferences on topics such as the gig economy, artificial intelligence, and macroeconomic trend analysis, and has written articles published in Training Magazine, Performance Improvement Journal, and PerformanceXpress.