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Matthew Bledsoe

M.S. 2009; Ph.D. 2013

Career: Various positions at Regions Bank ending with SVP, Manager in Market & Liquidity Risk Management, 2012-2018. Currently, SVP, Director of Credit Risk Models at IBERIABANK

Education:

  • B.S., 2004, Gardner-Webb University
  • M.S., 2009, UAB
  • Ph.D., 2013, UAB

I tell people that studying math in graduate school was really fun. I say this not just to see their surprised reactions, but because it was truly an enjoyable experience. My fellow students were a joy to work beside, and several of them I count as friends and colleagues even now. The faculty challenged us but were always willing to answer questions. They encouraged involvement in research and attendance at conferences from early on and, as we matured in our mathematical abilities, gave us respect as members of the community. Without them—my advisor, Dr. Weikard, in particular—I would not have had the opportunity to choose between offers in teaching, research, and industry.

Even though I had always pictured myself in academia, I chose industry for personal reasons. Much to my surprise, having never set foot in a business or finance class, I ended up in banking and have found the work rewarding. The problems I have to solve in my job boil down to translating a vague business problem into a solvable math problem. This is no easy task as the phenomena we want to model aren’t governed by physical laws but by the vagaries of human behavior. Making informed assumptions, understanding the limitations of a particular solution, and being skeptical of a method until it has been tested in the real world are all requirements of success in my job. Moreover, communicating and defending our solutions to a largely non-mathematical audience is crucial.

I had many experiences at UAB that helped prepare me for my current career: presenting proofs to peers and the professor in Advanced Calculus; being challenged to recognize implicit assumptions when trying to understand new, abstract concepts in classes like Topology and Real Analysis; writing, with a lot of guidance, two published papers as the sole author; and getting to teach or assist undergraduates from a variety of mathematical backgrounds. I am thankful to the faculty, staff, and fellow students who made it a memorable and rewarding experience.