Yale School of Management

Ola Williams ’18

Master’s Degree in Systemic RiskCurrent Position: U.S. Federal Reserve

The faculty at Yale have a really good reputation in the financial stability and monetary policy world. I had met some faculty when I visited the Yale Program on Financial Stability, and I mentioned them to my colleagues at the Federal Reserve, who later nominated me for the MMS program.

The Federal Reserve has started to build out its Financial Stability Division. More people in central banks, and even in the Treasury, are talking about the growing role of financial stability and how widespread systemic risk leads to instability. I want to get ahead of the curve and learn how to implement policies that can better manage risk. The MMS program is almost like a primer, a year to understand why financial crises occur, the role that systemic risk plays, and how we can come up with rules and policies to deter these problems.

One of my favorite classes has been Global Financial Crisis, which is co-taught by Professor Metrick and Timothy Geithner, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary. They do a great job breaking down, into layman’s terms, how many moving parts there were in the lead-up to the last financial crisis, and then in the recovery. They cover all of the more esoteric aspects that you need to understand. There were so many pieces, and even lingo, that I never understood, and now after taking the class, it’s like there’s a light bulb going off in my head: “Oh, this is exactly what it meant.”

In my class, we have students from central banks in Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. You get to hear how banks are tackling systemic risk around the world, and you become more aware of the global repercussion of U.S. policy. Yale is really good at providing this global view. The financial crisis illuminated just how interdependent the global economy is, and now I’m getting to see how when you move one lever here, something in this other part of the world is going to move, too. Everything is connected.

The most important part of this program is probably the network that you’re going to have with other future central bankers or financial ministers. If I’ve learned anything about what happens in a financial crisis, it’s that politicians are important, but when it comes down to who’s going to save the economy, it’s going to be the network of people that I’ve met at Yale.

We all came to this program with the intention of becoming leaders in the global economy realm. That’s why we chose this degree, instead of getting an MBA or a public policy degree. Yale is bringing the very hard skills of an MBA into this program, along with the leadership and management skills we’re going to need in times of crisis. We’ve learned that financial crises are almost inevitable. We don’t know when they’re going to happen, but we know they are going to happen. It behooves us all to have networks of people in place who understand the risks and how to work together.

Interviewed on October 31, 2017

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