ISE Degree Provided Foundation for Williams (BS ’84) in Corporate Finance

GAINESVILLE, FL:  The number of opportunities in the financial industry that are available to ISE graduates has been growing lately.  Firms hiring include American Express, Bloomberg, Barclays, Citi, Capital One, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan & Chase.  In speaking to the Introduction to ISE course on Monday, February 26, Carl Williams (BS ISE 1984) shed light on an alternative “financial” career path for ISE majors: the corporate financial path to CFO, or Chief Financial Officer.

Upon graduation, Williams took a line management position with Frito Lay.  He then moved to the IE Department at Walt Disney World after getting his MBA from Rollins.  After working on a few projects for the CFO, he had the opportunity to move into the financial arm of the business — eventually rising to the role of CFO of Disney Hong Kong.  He held that role for the two years prior to the park opening and the ensuing year.  Since then, he has worked for Baha Mar, developing a hotel and casino complex in the Bahamas and now spends his time as an independent consultant.

During his talk, Williams noted the opportunities available in corporate finance.  “There are lots of rungs on the ladder in finance,” he said.  “There is lots of career mobility.”  He also noted that it is “invigorating to be at the table for the most important decisions” in a company, as the CFO always is.

Williams also provided general guidance for the students.  He stressed that you need to be curious at work.  “Are you asking, ‘What else?  What can we do smarter?  What can we do different?” he said.  “If you are curious, you will be working on solutions often and early.”

Given his career path in finance, Williams was asked if he thought a degree in finance would have been a better start.  He concluded defiantly: “Never one day in the last 31 years have I thought I should have done something different in my undergrad.  I never regretted it.”