Published 03/25/16

Bryant alumni judge students' presentations

Accomplished alumni in the finance field returned to Bryant to judge semester-long projects of students enrolled in Prof. Jack Trifts' Financial Statement Analysis class.

Accomplished finance pros like what they see in Financial Statement Analysis class

For finance Professor Jack Trifts active learning is vital.

A former auditor for a public accounting firm, Trifts, who has a Ph.D. in finance, has firsthand experience with the demands that his students will face upon entering the workforce, and he wants to make sure they’re up to the task. “People often ask, ‘Is your class theoretical or applied,’” says Trifts, “and my answer is ‘Yes!’ I familiarize students with the theory and then make sure that they can put what they’ve learned into practice.”

"This type of coursework puts them on the fast track to be a productive resource as soon as they enter the workforce."

Nowhere is this hands-on approach more apparent than in Trifts’ Financial Statement Analysis class (FIN 370), an upper-level course which Trifts runs as a semester-long project. Each student chooses a company to evaluate from one of three sectors – consumer discretionary, consumer staples, or technology – analyzing the performance, estimating the current market value, and making an investment recommendation. At the end of the term, the students present their recommendations to classmates and a jury comprised of finance professionals.

Judge Kevin Arruda ’13, a portfolio oversight manager for U.S. Trust, likes what he’s seen. “The presentations are high caliber, and students are learning skills that will serve them well. Bryant nurtured my presentation and analytic skills, and I’m happy to help others.”

Andre Abouhala ’13, an investment analyst at Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (MassPRIM), also served as a judge and was impressed. “I received an excellent education at Bryant. The skills I learned from Professor Trifts left an imprint, and I’m delighted to pay it forward.”

"Bryant’s faculty maintains a hand in the real world and brings that experience into the classroom."

The opportunity to watch young minds attack problems attracted judge Marianne Caserta MBA ’03, chief financial officer for Atrion Networking Company. “Last year’s project was challenging and the students handled it well; they were looking at all the right things. Bryant’s faculty maintains a hand in the real world and brings that experience into the classroom, which is very important.”

Judge Ray Grigelevich ’91, MBA ’00, credit manager for the commercial group at the Bank of Canton, says he’s happy to advance the connection between alumni and students and pleased to see that students can analyze complex data and act on it intelligently. “This type of coursework puts them on the fast track to be a productive resource as soon as they enter the workforce.”

Trifts values the contributions of the alumni judges, not only for the insights they offer, but also for the inspiration they provide. “When alumni from the financial sector return to evaluate the presentations, it not only gives students an opportunity to showcase their abilities as analysts, but also interact with professionals in the field and see where their education and skills can take them. It makes the project more memorable, and