Gary Finkelstein’s Haas MFE Journey


Gary_Finkelstein-01Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Gary Finkelstein chose to pursue the Berkeley Haas MFE to further his theoretical knowledge of finance and learn from his fellow peers, some of whom would bring with them a wealth of knowledge from prior professional experience. His most memorable and enjoyable times came from interacting with those he formed life-long bonds. He credits the MFE program for bringing together amazing students from all parts of the world. Between the classroom learning and knowledge gained from his classmates, Gary humbly remembers that he has grown both academically and as a person since joining the program. “My year at  Berkeley was truly life-changing. Looking back on what was an intense and busy year, what really stood out is how the program presents itself as one giant opportunity.”

From the very beginning, Gary felt that he and his classmates were well prepared for the real world. “It is Berkeley’s edge – beyond the cutting edge academics, there is scope to network, leverage that network, form both life-long friendships and professional relationships as well as learn to fight each and every day to improve.” 

Asked about what advice he would give prospective applicants or students in the program, Gary believes that an open mindset is key to achieving success. Gary recalls how one of classmates once gave him the following advice which helped him stay focused, level-headed and ready to tackle the challenges that would come his way: 

  1. Learn to love the process, not the outcome
  2. Don’t fixate on doing things to get something or somewhere
  3. Learn to enjoy learning, grinding, one ball at a time (He is a tennis fan)
Gary stuck to this advice and after a lot of hard work, he secured a full time position as an Energy Trader in London – a position that he couldn’t be happier with as it is an opportunity to develop and grow within an exciting space in the world of finance. “The Berkeley MFE contributed significantly to my professional profile as we were taught skills that are relevant and in high demand. In addition, leveraging the cumulative experience and perspective of one’s classmates allows you to fine tune your skill set and target specific roles.”

Gary’s advice to future Berkeley MFEs is to stay humble, focused and to keep grinding each and every day success. “And if you do so, success will be on its way!”

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE and how the program can launch or advance your career in finance or data science by going to our website or 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.