2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Aysegul Ates, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Aysegul Ates

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“An extra-extravert who can talk about finance and human rights for hours in a couple of different languages”

Fun fact about yourself: I am afraid of powdered sugar. Yes, powdered sugar!

Hometown: Izmir, Turkey

High School: Anatolian High School, Izmir, Turkey

Major: Finance with a Specialization in Alternative Asset Management

Minor: Women’s and Gender Studies

Favorite Business Course: Quantitative Trading and Strategies

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work & Leadership Roles:

  • BBA Energy Club, President
  • SMU Student Senate, International Senator
  • The Mustang Spindletop Investment Fund, Portfolio Manager
  • Cox School of Business, Teaching Assistant – Financial Management
  • EnCap Investments and LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center, Associate
  • Cox Career Management Center, Peer Coach
  • Cox Career Accelerator Program (CAP), Mentor
  • O’Neil Center Armentrout Scholars Reading Group, Fellow
  • Bridwell Institute Bridwell Scholars Reading Group, Fellow

Honors & Awards:

  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars (“NCSC”)
  • Phi Theta Kappa (“PTK”)
  • The North Texas Transfer Scholarship
  • Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies Fellow
  • The Betty Janette Maynard Scholarship and Award
  • The Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Jefferies (New York, NY) – Investment Banking Summer Analyst
  • Plutus21 Capital (Dallas, TX) – Fundamental Analyst
  • LP Analyst (Dallas, TX) – Private Equity Intern
  • Blossom Street Ventures (Dallas, TX) – Venture Capital Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Jefferies as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions group.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is, without a doubt, Professor William Maxwell, the Academic Director of The Alternative Asset Management Center and The Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies. He has had an immense impact on both my academic and professional development. His Alternative Asset Management class was one of the most time-intensive and enjoyable courses I have taken as an undergrad. His teaching method challenged me to think like an investor and understand a business model from very different perspectives. Professor Maxwell has provided me with the tools and mindset to be successful both academically and professionally. He will forever be a mentor and my favorite professor.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have gained from studying business is that managing a business is more than just profits and losses. Companies do not only create economic value; they can offer people great places to work and help solve some of the world’s most significant issues. Through environmental sustainability initiatives, philanthropy, and social impact, businesses can be a powerful force for good.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?

  • Your reputation is the most valuable asset you own, and it is an extremely fragile thing. Think twice before you do anything because your reputation does really precede you.
  • I know networking is essential, but if you do not form quality relationships with the people you are talking to, it will not serve you well. Focus on quality, not quantity!
  • Learning is a privilege; embrace it. I promise it is fun to learn.
  • Surround yourself with smart people who challenge you and help you grow as a person.
  • Lastly, be a good person and treat everyone with respect no matter who they are.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I have learned so much more outside the classroom from my peers, student clubs, speaker events, information sessions, and mock interviews. Immersing one’s self in the life of the campus and the business school could be very enriching. For example, I met one of my mentors at a speaker event. He has since made a tremendous impact on my personal and professional growth. Without investing my time in going to the lecture, this wouldn’t’ have happened.  I am also happily surprised about how much more I learned from student clubs and student-managed investment funds that provide great opportunities to build leadership skills and work with others outside the classroom.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I think everything I have done, including my biggest mistakes and failures, shaped me in ways I never thought they would. So, I choose to embrace my failures, errors, screw-ups, and shortcomings because they not only made me who I am but also taught me invaluable lessons.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being involved in the Alternative Asset Management Program at SMU. It was an honor to get accepted into a highly-selective honors program following countless hours of interviews. After completing the Alternative Assets class, the finance department nominated me to represent the department and mentor my peers with their career searches through workshops and mock interviews. I am fortunate to have been mentored by amazing people in my time at SMU. They helped me shape my career path but invaluably so also shaped me as a person. Following their example, I am now happily assisting other students with their career development and progression. Seeing their confidence grow as I help them empowers and inspires me every day.

Which classmate do you most admire? Elle Young is a true inspiration, and I am fortunate to call her a classmate and my best friend. I admire her always standing up for herself and her unique ability to strike up a conversation with anyone about almost anything. Elle always makes time for her friends and family while being involved in extracurricular activities, including being an NCAA Division 1 athlete. She is someone I look up to, and I cannot wait to conquer New York City with her.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? So many people have contributed to my success, including my family, professors, and friends. Still, I want to thank my uncle, Sabri Ates, for being my role model, mentor, and most prominent supporter. Throughout my journey from Turkey to Texas, he has been a constant source of guidance and encouragement in every avenue of my life. My uncle is the first in our family to go to college and move across the world to pursue his goals. His hard work has allowed him to be one of the best professors in his field, and it taught me nothing can ever be achieved without hard work and perseverance. I am forever grateful for everything he has done for me, and I am thankful that he has shaped me into the person I am today.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Be in a position to influence and mentor young girls
  • Take my company public one day (I have to start the company first, of course!)

What are your hobbies? Discovering “instagrammable” coffee shops, Cooking, Food Plating, Fitness, Learning about new cultures and cuisines

What made Ayesegul such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“I don’t think you could create a more well-rounded, accomplished student than Aysegul Ates, even if you could make them in a lab.  Her accomplishments are so many and diverse that it’s hard to wrap your head around them. In addition to being one of our most accomplished students in the classroom, she is a leader and role model for all other Cox School students. She has excelled in our top finance program, she’s the president of the Energy Club, Phi Theta Kappa, student government, and so much more, as you can see from her answers. But what makes her truly special is how Aysegul has given back to the Cox community. She mentors our first-year students, helps out with recruitment programs, and is always available whenever we need her for anything. She’s one of those students who just gets it. Aysegul understands how much she has gotten from her experience at SMU and the Cox School, and she is constantly trying to give back, pay it forward. When she starts at her investment banking job in New York next year, I know Aysegul will carry and waive the Cox School flag all over the North East. We were lucky to have her as a student and are proud to soon call her an alum.”

Jim Bryan
Associate Dean, BBA Programs


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