MFE 08 Alumnus Ariel Pavlicevich’s Computer Science Background Paved Way for Success in MFE and Beyond


ArielAriel Pavlicevich is a Portfolio Manager at Walleye Trading, where he algorithmically trades Equity Derivatives using quantitative models. Prior to Walleye Trading, Ariel worked as a Trader at Parallax Volatility Advisers and as a Trader and Quant at Spot Trading. During the internship portion of the MFE program, he worked at Morgan Stanley in New York at the Securitized Products Group. Before joining the MFE class of 2008, Ariel worked for three years as a Software Developer at Oracle.

From Ariel’s voice—his journey from the MFE to Walleye Trading: 

“As an undergraduate at UCLA, I envisioned my future in a Trading career. Instead of studying business, I received a degree in Computer Science, and always assumed I would transition to the financial industry after pursuing an MBA.

My plans changed when I first heard about the Berkeley MFE program from a co-worker at Oracle. I was already applying to MBA programs, but the MFE immediately seemed like a better fit based on my quantitative background, programming skills, and my aspirations.

Once in the MFE, I realized that the curriculum was challenging, but also very practical. I recall a key moment for me when, in a group interview at my New York-based winter internship, I was asked to solve problem after problem alongside five other MFE students from different universities. It quickly became clear how well-prepared I was to answer these questions after completing just three terms at Haas. It was at that point that I felt empowered to speak up and apply my knowledge of quantitative analysis to every job going forward.

I graduated from the MFE program in 2008 at the start of the financial crisis. At the time, it felt as though I had the most unfortunate timing and that the state of the market would forever impact my career. Instead, this turned out to be a fantastic opportunity where I joined Spot Trading, a smaller proprietary trading firm in Chicago. As a Financial Engineer, I was able to observe how a successful Option Trading firm was run, and I was given a tremendous amount of freedom to make enhancements to processes where I saw fit. Within just a few months at Spot, I had developed an automated stock trading system that was gradually released throughout the firm. After a year and a half at Spot, I moved to the new Market Making group, where I transitioned from a Financial Engineer algorithmically trading stock to an Algorithmic Option Trader in a group of ten traders and technology professionals.

My big break came in 2011, when Parallax Volatility Advisers brought me on as a Portfolio Manager to San Francisco to manage all aspects of a Volatility Arbitrage book, from valuation to execution to delta hedging. It was there that my background as a Software Developer, Quant, and Trader all came together. Since 2011, I have continued to work on my Option Trading, at Parallax and now at Walleye, in what continues to be a very enjoyable and fulfilling career. I always wanted a career in Trading and the Berkeley MFE program brought together my programming background and my interest in finance. The Berkeley MFE gave me the practical skills I needed to transition from a Software Developer to a Volatility Arbitrage Portfolio Manager in just four years.”

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE Program and how we can help you launch or advance your career by going to our website or by joining an information session.

About The Author

As Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Berkeley MFE Program, my role-among other things-is to develop and maintain contacts with firms to find opportunities for the students and place them in outstanding internships and full-time positions.