Rachel Cantor

M.S. in Commerce 2012 (Finance), University of Virginia

B.A. in Economics 2011, University of Virginia

After: SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Investment Banking Analyst (New York, NY)

Now: Sentinel Capital Partners, Senior Associate (New York, NY)

Leveraging economics with business

My undergraduate major was economics, which I believe encourages a very different way of thinking than does finance. Economics teaches you to think more theoretically and conceptually, whereas finance is more about application. Having both perspectives is helpful in problem solving in my job.

Most memorable class: Corporate Finance

The Financial Services track, especially Professor Felicia Marston’s Corporate Finance class, taught me how to think about company valuation and is the class that is most applicable to my current job. I use the concepts I learned in that class every day. However, the non-finance classes were also helpful in preparing me for my current job. Many of the M.S. in Commerce classes were very interactive and encourage students to ask questions and voice their opinions. The skills I learned in these classes now help me speak up in meetings.

A typical day at the office

Lately, my days have been a mix of pitching and due diligence. On a recent day at the office, I work on a presentation for a client's board of directors meeting. This company has acquired a number of other companies in a business sector my senior bankers know a lot about. They were meeting with the board to discuss other potential acquisitions, in the hope they will hire us to advise if they like our ideas. For this, I worked in PowerPoint to create the presentation, with some work in Excel, creating general equity market updates. On Tuesday, I also worked on a live mergers and acquisitions deal. We are in the final stages of selling a company, and at this point, it is my responsibility to make sure all of the buyer's diligence questions are answered in a timely and thorough manner. I've been coordinating finance, legal, business, IT, and other questions and answers between the buyer and seller for a few weeks now.

Advice for future students interested in finance

My advice is to take advantage of Commerce Career Services. I believe going through the CCS office is the best way to get an investment banking job right out of college. Also, it's important to study amply before interviews. I also read all of the Vault study guides on investment banking, which are available in the Commerce Career Services library. Finally, start early! 

Most memorable GIE company visit

My most memorable company visit was Zwack, in Budapest, Hungary. The company, which has produced liqueurs for more than 100 years, survived through the Cold War. We learned how Zwack was run pre-communism, during communism (when the government took the business from its owners) and post-communism (when the owners got it back), which provided a very different history compared with that of American companies.

Life after graduate business school

I work a lot, but when I do have free time, I love to explore Manhattan and go skiing. I also try to attend many of the UVA Club New York events.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

I love visiting the Virginia wineries with friends on a beautiful day!