a, Student Life

Student of the Week: Michaela Hirsh

When Michaela Hirsh was in grade 10, her teacher told her she wasn’t cut out to pursue a career that involved math. Six years later, she’s in the math-heavy finance program in the Desautels Faculty of Management, with a job at J.P Morgan lined up for this summer.

“When people tell me not to do something, it makes me want to do it,” Hirsh says. “So I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to do it anyway.’ In grade 12, something just shifted and I just started to get math [….] I found a passion for it.”

Hirsh studies honours investment management, where she finds a passion for both the critical thinking and risk-laden aspects of finance.

“In class, if you’re given a problem, you can solve it […] but in practical finance like investing, you never know what the right answer is until you invest in something and it either goes well or it doesn’t […] it’s exhilarating,” she says. “[But] when you dig into a company and you get to know everything about it, it’s not so much of a gamble anymore […] so I also like the analytical aspect of it.”

Her interest in finance extends to various executive positions on campus. Hirsh is vice-president sponsorship of the McGill Investment Club, a financial markets columnist for the Bull and Bear, and a participant in various case competitions. She also co-started a series of workshops that helps students around McGill learn the basics of networking, interviews, and analyzing stocks.

Hirsh is particularly driven to increase respect for women in the male-dominated field of finance.

“There are all of these hurdles that women face, and people don’t necessarily realize it,” she says. “I’ve been really trying to [encourage] women in finance—especially younger ones I’ve met in the faculty—to […] apply for the jobs they want and to never say, ‘I don’t want to apply because I don’t want to get rejected.’ It’s always better to go for things.”

Hirsh recently spoke at the National Women in Business Conference and was awarded the 2013 HSBC Women in Business Leadership Award.

Hirsh’s adventurous and outgoing spirit drives her to pursue and experiment in many different outlets outside of business. For example, she was vice-president events for McGill’s Make-a-Wish foundation in her first year, is currently involved with the Commerce Administration Student Charity Organization (CASCO), and participates in intramural sports.

As Hirsh looks forward to her up-and-coming future as a graduate of McGill, she notes her excitement but admits her fear of leaving the place she’s called home for the past four years.

“I’ve been realizing that my friends at McGill mean the world to me, and I’m so afraid that once we leave this amazing environment it’s just not going to be the same,” Hirsh says. “I think that’s the hardest part—[leaving] the lifestyle [where] I’m able to get involved in such a diverse array of things.”

McGill Tribune: If you could go back to any time in history, when would it be?

Michaela Hirsh: One hundred per cent the dinosaur [era]. They are so cool.

MT: Who would you like to shake hands with if you could go back in time?

MH: Margaret Thatcher [….] She actually didn’t even want to run for prime minister; someone convinced her and said, “you are the most capable person for this” so she stepped up and did it. I think she’s pretty awesome […] I’d also like to talk to Frank Sinatra.

MT: What’s your guilty pleasure?

MH: Definitely binge watching Law and Order SVU.

MT: What is your favourite sport to watch?

MH: To watch, I’m a huge hockey fan. [My favourite team] is the Leafs […] it’s hard to love them sometimes, but it’s like a boyfriend—you go through ups and downs.

MT: Who is your favourite musician at the moment?

MH: I think Pitbull is just so funny, anything by Pitbull gets me going.

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