Our Stories

Pivoting to a New Career in Finance

Former insurance manager wanted to go farther; Vanderbilt helped him get there.

Ilvens Jean
Finance Manager, Microsoft

Vanderbilt MBA 2019

Ilvens Jean came to the United States from Haiti when he was six years old, and he was the first in his family to earn a college degree. Both of those influences led him to go farther, and he knew what he wanted.

In Haiti’s culture, Ilvens says, “a lot of value is placed on education. I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in order to expand my knowledge of business, further develop my leadership skills, and ultimately pivot into a more finance-focused role. 

Vanderbilt’s international reputation in finance led him to visit Owen, and the visit made his decision easy. “I had an awesome student guide who gave some really good advice, and I had a chance to attend a finance class where I experienced the small class size feeling that Owen offers,” Ilvens says.

“As a first-generation college graduate, I understand the importance of mentorship and the notion that ‘it takes a village.’ The level of support I received from Owen throughout the application process was incredible.”

Nothing exemplified that support more than Ilvens’ experience with a case competition in corporate finance. “My team wrestled with a pretty tough concept in the case,” Ilvens remembers. “A teammate and I ran into Professor (Bill) Christie’s office for help, and he gracefully explained the concept in a way that totally made sense.” Ilvens’ team went on to be a finalist in the competition.

During his first year, he has immersed himself in his studies of finance, leading to an internship as a finance manager with Microsoft in the Seattle area.  Ilvens took advantage of the opportunity to go on the Finance Trek to Charlotte, NC, and New York City — “a pretty amazing experience,” he says. But what really makes the Owen experience special, he adds, are the connections he has made to fellow students. “I have met so many incredible people from all different backgrounds that I am able to learn and grow with.” A village, you might call it.



Fun Fact: One of Ilvens’ favorite adventures was skydiving 14,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii.

“A teammate and I ran into Professor Christie’s office for help, and he gracefully explained the concept in a way that totally made sense.”