Meet The MBA Class Of 2020: Profiles In Courage

Anson E. Fraser

University of Texas, McCombs School of Business

Level-headed Caribbean-American lacrosse player with a passion for how technology is shaping society.”

Hometown: Summit, New Jersey (NJ)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was born in Trinidad & Tobago, an island nation in the Caribbean, but I never got my sea legs. To this day, I get seasick on boats in open water.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Notre Dame Bachelor of Arts in Film, Television, and Theatre

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Envestnet | Portfolio Management Consultants (PMC): Associate Vice President, Investment Product Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment of my career so far was initiating and delivering a project to decrease the time needed to produce quarter end marketing materials that include portfolio performance figures. In my last role, I oversaw the performance calculation and verification process for over a thousand portfolios with $15.5 billion in assets under management. The painstaking process involved numerous teams and often took more than 45 days to complete. Through documenting the steps each team was responsible for, identifying redundant steps, and then restructuring the process I was able to hand off a set of instructions that were used to automate the process. That change not only decreased the time to publish our marketing materials by over 80%, but also mitigated the risk of human error in the process.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The quality that best describes the MBA classmates I’ve met so far is… Selfless. From the time I submitted my deposit, to preparing for The Consortium’s Orientation Program (OP), and throughout the first few weeks of life in Austin, my McCombs classmates have gone out to their way to share words of wisdom, help with interview prep, and make themselves available whenever I need assistance. During the admissions process, the reoccurring comment I heard about McCombs MBAs was, “They’re very friendly.” That comment wasn’t a stretch of the truth if anything it was an understatement.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The connection to the city of Austin was the key factor in my choice of McCombs for my full-time MBA. It was important to me because I wanted my MBA experience to be different from what I had as an undergrad in South Bend, or as a young professional in New York City. Austin is a vibrant city where it’s never hard to get outside, even in the winter months, which was also very appealing to me. With all the companies that are deciding to headquarter – or open an additional office – in the Austin area, there is also no shortage of networking opportunities. Additionally, now that Rowling Hall is fully operational, the talks we have lined up to connect with Austin based businesses are being released. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Block-chain, and Crypto-currency are a few of the topics that will be covered at events this fall that I’m excited to attend.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I have two: McCombs Board Fellows and The McCombs Graduate Consulting Group. Board Fellows because I’m a product of the work and generosity of non-profit initiatives. The opportunity to pay that forward while learning how a non-profit operates is one that I don’t want to miss. The McCombs Graduate Consulting Group because of the exposure to a myriad of problem-solving techniques. Regardless of the industry or position, I’ll go into it having a diverse set of problem-solving tools will be an important part of a successful long-term career.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Accelerating my career to the next level was what led me to pursue my MBA at this point. When I say “next level”, I mean the point in my career where I’m setting the vision for the initiatives I take on and having profit-and-loss responsibilities. To get to that point, I knew needed to learn some foundational aspects of managing a company that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn as a Film, Television, and Theatre major at Notre Dame.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I know a lot of people created spreadsheets to quantify whether an MBA was worth the investment, but I never got that detailed. I understood that I would be giving up a salary for a couple of years, but I also would be expanding my skill set and knowledge base, and that would ultimately make me more valuable when I finished my program.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UCLA (Anderson), UC-Berkley (Haas), UNC (Kenan-Flagler), USC (Marshall)

How did you determine your fit at various schools? To evaluate my fit at various schools, I signed up for EVERY event in the NYC area attended by an admissions representative of the schools I wanted to attend. I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit all the schools I would apply to so it was important for me to do in person research before committing to visit a school. I also reached out to friends, coworkers, and acquaintances who attended my target schools to get their opinions about whether the culture and values mentioned online and in marketing documents was in line with what they had experienced. I knew it fit my career goals because of the percentage of students it places in consulting, tech, and private wealth management. Those three areas are the ones that interest me the most. Once I defined my target areas, it was easy to rule out any school that didn’t have a good record of placing MBAs in those areas and seeing them go onto successful careers.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment happened in the winter of 2000 when I decided to play lacrosse. For most people, deciding to play a sport isn’t one that sticks with them. For me, a black male, it changed the trajectory of my life. Lacrosse doesn’t have a reputation for being the most inclusive of sports, although it’s made great strides in recent years. When I talk to people who don’t know much about the sport, their comments usually revolve around it being elitist and overwhelmingly white. Yes, I have experienced that side of the sport, but I also experienced the side of the sport that is a community that takes care of their own. I experienced the Summit Lacrosse Club granting me a scholarship to play my first year of lacrosse when my parents couldn’t afford it. That year of lacrosse developed my passion for the game and propelled me to an academic and athletic career at the University of Notre Dame that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I also experienced what is happening with Harlem Lacrosse, a non-profit helping at-risk youth in cities throughout the country, by teaching them the game of lacrosse and providing academic support. The experiences I’ve had through lacrosse (the good and the bad) have made me a stronger person by challenging me and made me a more thoughtful person by showing me that sports can change lives. That’s why I look back at my decision to play the sport as my defining moment.

 What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I plan to take a position that keeps me close to the Financial Technology industry. The intersection of finance and technology, and how to combine the two to create better financial outcomes for investors has kept my interest for the last four years, and I’d like to get back to it. Whether that means working on strategic issues for a large tech company that is building out their financial services support model or working as a private wealth associate to create a business plan for my practice is something I plan to figure out over the next year.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  In five years, I see myself working at the same employer I joined after graduation and beginning to take on a role involved in managing my division.

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