This month WCC spoke with Patrick Degnan, a recent May 2012 graduate from UW currently working as a Financial Analyst Consultant at Blue Stone International.
WCC: What was your area of study while at UW-Madison and how do you apply those skills to your current everyday job at Blue Stone?
I graduated from UW in 2012 with a double major in Finance and Risk Management. Currently, my role at Blue Stone is very finance and modeling intensive. Coming in with a finance background, and the accounting knowledge that comes with it, is extremely beneficial when working on projects and in financial models. As I spend the majority of my time in either Excel, or our Hyperion modeling software, I would recommend taking advantage of the classes on campus that allow you to become as familiar as possible with Excel.
WCC: What was your previous work background and next steps after you left UW?
While still at UW, I had a corporate finance internship with Siemens. Corporate finance wasn’t a great fit for me at the time, so following graduation I was able to get a role as an investment banking analyst with Duff & Phelps. After about nine months with Duff & Phelps, I interviewed at Blue Stone International and have currently been there for the past six months.
WCC: What does your current role at Blue Stone consist of?
Since joining Blue Stone, I’ve been in the Strategic Finance group as an Analyst building forecasting models for clients. This role involves first learning the clients’ existing Excel operating models, and then re-building the models in our own customized software. The goal is to find improvements and implement financial efficiencies while developing the revamped model in our software.
WCC: What type of person succeeds at Blue Stone?
Blue Stone is made up of all types of people with very different personalities – there definitely is not one type of person that succeeds here. I think the driving factor is a combination of work effort and a willingness to accept and adapt with change. No project is predictable, and one always needs to be willing to grind at times, while also being able to cope with change and obstacles along the way. Interpersonal skills are also a very valuable asset for a consultant at Blue Stone. Not only the ability to communicate and work well with your client, but also your project team, will definitely help one succeed and develop here.
WCC: What do you see as the key niche for Blue Stone?
Blue Stone separates itself from other consulting firms because we are all finance professionals. We are able to bring our finance knowledge and expertise and apply that to different functions under the CFO’s umbrella, providing and driving new efficiencies and business processes for all types of firms and industries.
WCC: What is the company culture like at Blue Stone?
Despite only having worked for a handful of companies in my short career, the culture at Blue Stone seems pretty hard to beat. There is a unique energy that exists at Blue Stone, filled with people pushing one another to learn, grow, and develop in a great environment. It is a very young culture, and filled with people that you look forward to being with both inside and outside the office. The best aspect of the Blue Stone culture is that the more senior professionals truly do care about you and your career, as well as encourage to you have a life outside of work.
WCC: What would be your advice for a Badger trying to start a career in consulting?
I think the best advice I could give right now is to network with recent graduates as much as possible. Not necessarily to try and have them help you get a job, but to learn what life is actually like on the job. I think it is very important to learn about day to day responsibilities and to do your best to understand the specifics of the role you will potentially be taking on.
I think it also is very important to practice your interview skills, and more specifically for consulting, case interview type questions. I think you learn something about yourself with every interview, and it is important to build from each experience and better prepare yourself for the next one. Be confident in yourself, and utilize the great Badger network out there!
Thanks for talking with us Patrick!