“Always Go Further”: Alumnus Carlos Arcila Barrera (MSF ’16) Shares His Story
Published: January 8, 2021 / Author: Carlos Arcila Barrera (MSF '16)
M.S. in Finance alumnus Carlos Arcila Barrera (MSF ’16) founded his own hedge fund in the Windy City after his time in Notre Dame’s MSF program. Read more about his post-degree success here.
My name is Carlos Arcila Barrera I am a Colombian national and I graduated from the first class of the University of Notre Dame Master of Science in Finance program in 2016.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in Chinese language and government from Universidad de Los Andes. During my prior degrees, I also completed programs and courses in Nankai University in China, University of North Carolina and Harvard University. I also hold Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Analyst in Alternative Investment (CAIA) and GARP Sustainability and Climate Change Risk (SCR) certificates.
Before I made the decision to study in the Notre Dame Master of Science in Finance program, I gained over three years of experience in energy and currency hedging, portfolio management, commodities, and derivatives trading while working for a Colombian consultancy firm, Universidad de Los Andes Endowment, and at a prominent Chicago hedge fund.
Understanding the evolution and changes the financial sector has, I was looking for a program that was rigorous and comprehensive in all aspects of finance, flexible in schedule and with a small group size that allowed me a deep interaction with my classmates, and I found the M.S. in Finance at Notre Dame to be the perfect fit.
I found a good balance between a practical and academic approach with renowned research professors, but also professors with professional experience, making this degree highly valuable for a finance career.
The M.S. in Finance journey was rewarding and extraordinary. The intellectual challenge in technical financial knowledge, while having the opportunity to choose between specialization in corporate finance and investment, provided me with immediately applicable tools, skills and frameworks with which I could deepen my technical skills such as modeling, trading and valuation techniques. Also, the program gave me the knowledge to understand and prepare for CFA and CAIA certifications.
The professors and lecturers where knowledgeable and accessible. For example, I had the opportunity to discuss with Professor Martijn Cremers a paper on which he worked regarding indexing and active fund management – a key topic for the asset management industry, and an area I worked in at the time. With Professor Gianna Bern – a well-known market professional – I was able to discuss the energy market outlook and perspectives that existed in the market at the time. There were undoubtedly many memorable professors in the program, including professors Robert Battalio, Michael Hemler (dec.) and Bill McDonald, to mention some of them.
Another key benefit of the program was my classmates’ diverse profiles, nationalities, and backgrounds. From doctors and artists to bankers, traders and consultants, my cohort enriched our classes with different perspectives. I made long-lived friends and learned from working in capstone projects and group projects. Having the program in a financial city like Chicago, as well, is a great added value and exceptional experience.
After the program, I launched my own hedge fund, Sigma Advanced Capital Management, in Chicago and became Adjunct Finance Professor for Universidad de Los Andes teaching derivatives, blockchain and sustainable finance. The Notre Dame networking helped me reach those important career steps.
My advice for prospective applicants is to reach out to current students, alumni, professors, and the M.S. in Finance program office, and attend the program’s events to get a sense of the environment and get insights from students and alumni. For current students, my recommendation is to make the most of it, build strong and large networks as you can, take advantage of each class and try to apply the knowledge acquired in real situations to your organization; have the opportunity to speak with professors; take advantage of the career center; and – following the University’s values – always go further.