Michelle Mendonça

Michelle Mendonca

M.S. in Commerce 2010 (Finance Track), University of Virginia

B.A. in Journalism and Political Science 2009, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

After: SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Derivatives Analyst (Atlanta)

Now: Agent Ace, Strategy and Operations (Los Angeles)

Leveraging liberal arts with business

At UNC Chapel Hill I studied journalism and political science. Combining that education with finance opened up my career path to many more opportunities than were initially available to me post-undergrad. After the M.S. in Commerce Program, I worked as an Analyst in Fixed Income Derivatives at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta. After, I backpacked around the world for a few months, then moved to California to pursue my interest in the tech sector. I worked briefly in business development at EdgeCast Networks (acquired by Verizon), and now I’m a member of the strategy and operations team at Agent Ace, a start-up in Santa Monica. The diverse roles I've held since graduation were all made possible by combining my UNC Chapel Hill undergraduate education with the UVA McIntire Master’s in Commerce.

Most memorable class: "Global Strategy and Systems"

My most compelling and valuable class at McIntire was “Global Strategy and Systems.” While it’s important to know how to value a company and analyze its balance sheets, it’s equally as important to understand how a business functions within itself and as a part of the larger economy.

Preparation for working with a start-up

My current job is at a data-driven real estate start-up, Agent Ace, and like many startup employees, I get to wear a lot of hats. The M.S. in Commerce Program broadened my technical, analytical, and strategic thinking skills, all of which I use every day at a small company where every decision matters.

Taking advantage of Commerce Career Services

Commerce Career Services was incredibly helpful in my job search. I made my first contact with STRH at the on-Grounds career fair, and did my first interviews on-Grounds as well. I also took full advantage of all of the Vault study guides available online at the time, and I encourage any student interviewing for investment banking jobs to do the same.

What makes the job great

No two days are exactly the same at my current job, which is exciting because it keeps me on my feet. I joined Agent Ace when we were at about a dozen people, now we’re up to 40, and we’ve grown our team with incredible people. We have an amazing office filled with talented people, and as a team we enjoy fun activities both inside and outside the office. We went to Mammoth Lakes, Calif., for a company ski trip in January, and earlier this spring a group of us went camping on Catalina Island. On top of all of that, every day I get to walk to work in sunny Santa Monica. It’s fantastic.

A typical day on the job

Last Tuesday, I spent a lot of time in Excel. I started my day exporting and manipulating CRM data to produce an internal report for how our workflow funnel is performing, then I moved on to a project analyzing our company’s growth and coverage. In the afternoon, I met with our heads of product and marketing and other operations managers to talk about my CRM report and give insights on the data.

Advice for future students

One of the best ways you can add value in the tech realm when in a non-engineering or development position is to have a good grasp of data analytics and strategy, which is why I was very excited to hear that the M.S. in Commerce Program added a Business Analytics Track. Every company these days has the ability to collect a multitude of information on how their users consume their products or services, and being able to analyze this data and make impactful recommendations will always be useful skills.

Most memorable Global Immersion Experience company visit

My most memorable company visit in Southeast Asia was definitely P&G's Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. It was really interesting to learn about their product mix, which is huge, and how it is specialized for different countries and regions of the world.

Biggest take-away

While everything we learned was incredibly valuable, one thing I underestimated was how much my network from UVA would impact my future career. I work side by side with two former M.S. in Commerce classmates, Amro Naddy and John Miller, and Amro got both John and me on board at Agent Ace.

Life after graduate business school

I’m currently enrolled in the data science program at General Assembly in Santa Monica. I’m learning Python and programming skills in order to broaden my abilities when it comes to modeling and analyzing large sets of data. When I'm not in front of a computer, I love staying active, so I'm typically running on the beach, lifting at the gym, or hiking any of the beautiful trails around LA.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

Running! I trained for my first half marathon while in the M.S. in Commerce Program with a fellow classmate, and Charlottesville was such a beautiful city to get to know on foot.