Student Essay Contest

Mathematics in Finance: A Biography of Rachael Mangoubi

2010 AWM Essay Contest: Undergraduate Level Honorable Mention

By: Daniela Guini, Harrington College of Design, Chicago, IL

Rachael Mangoubi is a successful Investment Banking Associate at Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago. Mrs. Mangoubi works on corporate middle market mergers and acquisitions in a variety of industries, including paper and packaging, distribution, industrial manufacturing, foodservice and consumer products. She utilizes both her qualitative and quantitative mathematics skills to provide superb buy and sell side advisory, fairness and solvency opinions, special committee representation and structured private placements, using financial valuation models and strategic transaction and negotiation determinations.
Interestingly enough, Mrs. Mangoubi’s aptitude for mathematics did not come naturally and she struggled to learn the basic concepts of introductory algebra in middle school. Not allowing this to hold her back, Mrs. Mangoubi worked hard to conquer algebra theory and ultimately correctly complete her assignments. Understanding that only one correct answer exists for each problem, and a unique sense of accomplishment when she was able to attain it, sparked her long-lived interest and success in mathematics. “I liked that math problems had an ‘answer’ and your level of success was not subjective, which probably made me better at it.” She soon found herself excelling in all of her mathematically-based subjects.
Mrs. Mangoubi majored in Mathematics and Spanish at Duke University, graduating Cum Laude in 2003. She took Advanced Placement Calculus at Highland Park High School, but studied no theoretical math before college. It was actually her science classes in high school that surfaced her true love of mathematics. Mrs. Mangoubi really enjoyed general chemistry and physics courses, but was not as interested in biology or organic chemistry subjects. Fundamentally, she appreciated the science courses with an abundance of applied math, but did not have as much regard for the qualitative sciences. Mrs. Mangoubi originally considered majoring in general chemistry, but after realizing that advanced chemistry courses would not involve the level of math she desired to achieve, she decided that a mathematical sciences degree would better suit her interests and strengths.
As a college student, Mrs. Mangoubi was undecided how to use her degree upon graduation. She settled on the finance industry, not fully understanding how helpful and valued her mathematics background would be to her career. Today, it is undeniable how her strong mathematical skills have aided her career development and advancement. Strong quantitative skills are essential for financial modeling, which is used to approximate a company’s valuation in a transaction. This is typically the most critical figure for a merger or acquisition client, as it measures a company’s overall worth in the marketplace. Modeling is one of Mrs. Mangoubi’s favorite job tasks because it allows her to really get into the numbers, or facts, and look at a variety of different scenarios for the transaction’s potential outcome. On the qualitative side, Mrs. Mangoubi uses the skills she learned through the study of theorem-based mathematics to decide the strategy and direction to take.
Mrs. Mangoubi encourages motivated students to pursue a degree in mathematical sciences. Regardless of their innate abilities, students interested in math can learn and master the theory and application of mathematical sciences with guidance and determination. “It is a very challenging and hence rewarding path to take.” She noted that there is an astounding level of assistance in the field, suggesting that although ‘math people’ are seemingly rare, they are often buried among a variety of industries and eager to help other ‘math people’ succeed. Mathematics provides copious career choices, from finance, to science applications, to education, which is something Mrs. Mangoubi continues to consider in the future. Mrs. Mangoubi understands that a mathematics path can appear intimidating, but the knowledge that a support system of enthusiastic and willing career professionals exists should offer some comfort and encouragement to future mathematics students.
Outside of the office, Mrs. Mangoubi remains incredibly driven, seeking interests that are equally challenging and rewarding as those mathematically based skills she uses at work. Her hobbies include yoga, studying French and reading. “I chose a somewhat taxing career path, yet love to do things that challenge me outside of work and give me that same sense of accomplishment.”
About the student:
I realized at an early age that I understood the principles of mathematics and enjoyed quickly grasping concepts and excelling in a subject beyond my peers. In fourth grade, my class had weekly timed multiplication quizzes. I nearly always completed my quiz first at 100% accuracy, however, if I had missteps in my work, I would go home and restudy the concepts I was not fully grasping. My interest and aptitude for mathematics lead me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2005. I am currently revisiting my creative passion for Interior Design at Harrington College of Design in Chicago, IL. I proudly realize my mathematics background will assist me in effectively running my own business in the future.