December 07

Erika and the Finance Program Journey

Sitting in the Tanner Building, Erika Mahterian greets, by name, almost everyone who shuffles through the third-floor atrium. Mahterian is a senior in the finance program of the BYU Marriott School of Management and spends about twelve hours a day in the building, shifting between classes, mentoring, and leading the BYU Women in Finance group with finance program recruiting director Tina Ashby.

Mahterian shakes her head as a friend, Thomas Stone, jokes, “Erika is the face of the Marriott School of Management.”

Two years ago, however, Mahterian was fresh off her mission in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and, like many BYU students, found it difficult to choose a major. Considering herself “the creative type,” she dabbled in fashion and thought about applying to one of the communications emphases.

“I even had a private art teacher helping me prepare my portfolio for the graphic design program,” Mahterian says.

Mahterian signed up for Finance 201 as a sophomore because she had enjoyed accounting. She quickly realized finance combined her love of numbers and functions with her passion for analyzing facts and figures to shape future decisions. She also recognized finance had already played a major role in her life: from a young age, Mahterian watched her father, the son of two Armenian immigrants, build his own business, Robert Mahterian Architecture, Inc.

“My dad is always learning new skill sets to make his firm more marketable. He learned landscaping, interior design. One day I came home and all of a sudden he had his real estate license,” Mahterian says. “The idea in finance of continuous progression and learning has always been attractive to me.”

Realizing that finance exemplified her passion, Mahterian started talking to friends in the program. They introduced her to Ashby, who invited Mahterian to the 2014 Women in Finance Dinner, which highlighted the classes and mentorship opportunities in the program. Successful women spoke on their experiences after graduation, and Mahterian was hooked. She applied to the program and started the junior core classes fall semester 2015.

Mahterian attributes her success in the program and her internship at EY last summer to the many resources provided by the program. “The directors and professors are invested in the whole student, emotionally, spiritually, temporally—just every aspect,” she says. “They will stop anything they are doing to invest their time in helping a student succeed.”

Ashby and Mahterian work together to promote the Women in Finance group. Mahterian’s role includes coordinating round tables, events for networking, and speakers in order to encourage “a general feeling of support and mentorship and building each other up,” she says.

Women make up just 14 percent of the finance program at BYU, but according to Tina Ashby, their influence reaches much further.

“We want the diversity of thought and experience that women bring,” Ashby says. “It strengthens the Marriott School environment as a whole to have diversity.”

Ashby’s work to reach out to the female population on campus has led to passionate students like Erika Mahterian finding their niche in the finance program.