Fifteen years ago, Michigan Tech was little more than a name in a guidebook for Maggie Chen ’04. Now, the University is an integral part of her storied academic and professional history.
Originally from China, Chen first learned about Michigan Tech as a high school student in Chengdu. After listening to a talk by a former classmate about studying in the United States, Chen developed an interest in an international college education. Her English was strong, and after she passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Chen began researching schools.
“At that time, there was not much information for Chinese students who wanted to study abroad,” she said. “My dad had a guidebook that listed the top 300 universities in the United States, and Michigan Tech was one of them. I was interested in the sciences, and my parents wanted me to attend a public university in a safe location, so Michigan Tech was the only school I applied to."
"Michigan Tech totally changed my life."
After her acceptance, Chen—who had never traveled internationally—set off alone for Houghton. The transition was painless, she said, made easier by the welcoming campus community. There were very few Chinese undergraduate students on campus at the time, and Chen had the opportunity to become completely immersed in the US culture. She thrived in the close-knit environment and graduated with a BS in Business Administration.
Since her first days as an international student at Michigan Tech, Chen has moved rapidly through the ranks of the international financial industry. During her undergraduate career, she interned at Citigroup, and after graduation she worked in fixed-income banking at Morgan Stanley and in mergers and acquisitions at AIG Capital in New York City. With several years in industry under her belt, Chen enrolled in the Yale University School of Management and received her MBA in 2010.
With her background, Chen was a natural fit for the international financial market. She accepted a direct-investment position with China Everbright Capital Management in Hong Kong, eventually becoming an assistant portfolio manager in the equities division at SAFE Investment Company. In the future, she hopes to advance to portfolio manager.
The road to success has not been without its challenges. As her professional life developed, Chen was faced with a dilemma that is common among professional women the world over: balancing work and family.
“Being a mother and a professional is very demanding, and women must be prepared,” she said. “I advise young female professionals to make a choice in advance. Either you work hard and move up to a senior level, where there is more flexibility, or you choose a career that will not require you to be in the office for eighty hours per week.”
When Chen became a mother, she chose the latter option, accepting a fulfilling portfolio management job with fixed hours and flexible working options. During her time as an investment banker in New York, she says parenting and working concurrently would not have been possible. “It hasn’t been easy, but I love being a mother, and I love my job.”
To help other Chinese students navigate the process of studying abroad, Chen coauthored a book, Becoming a US Undergraduate, which was released in 2002. She served on the Advisory Council for the Advanced Portfolio Management Program at Michigan Tech for several years and encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities the program affords.
“The APMP experience is a realistic example of what it’s like to work in equity management. The hands-on experience managing actual funds is invaluable. The financial industry is highly competitive, and APMP gives students an edge when it comes to job hunting,” said Chen.
Chen is a Michigan Tech champion and doesn’t hesitate to extol the value of her education. The professors at Michigan Tech are supportive and readily available to students, she says, a factor that sets the University apart. Chen credits the supportive atmosphere and personal interaction with instructors as a major factor in her success.
“My experience in Houghton was wonderful,” she said. “If not for Michigan Tech, I wouldn’t have gotten a job on Wall Street, and I wouldn’t have been able to have this amazing career. Michigan Tech totally changed my life."
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.