Investing in a Better Future
By the time Alexis Nelson decided to pursue a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) at The School of Business, she already had an impressive list of accomplishments: an MBA, experience in the investment management industry and a successful adventure-focused business, LifeCycle Adventures. With a solid passion for business and extensive experience, Alexis needed a program that would challenge her and help her begin the next chapter of her career.
“The obvious choice for me was Portland State and the MSF program because it’s in the heart of the city that I’ve grown to call home,” she says. “The classes complemented and built on the courses I had taken during my MBA, and I love that PSU has a reputation for diversity and innovation. This is what you need in education.”
An Entrepreneurial Spirit
The Master of Finance program was a natural fit following years of working at a startup she founded. She’d always dreamed of starting a company, and the opportunity came much earlier in her career than she expected.
“I took the risk and went in 100 percent,” Alexis says. “And now LifeCycle Adventures is an international company.”
Alexis wore many hats as the company grew, and she discovered that they all had a common thread: finance. It was what helped the business grow organically and remain profitable, and she found a passion for the numbers. After deciding to exit the company, she already knew her next step: pursuing a finance degree at PSU.
“I wanted to refine my skill set and add academic rigor to what I had been doing for many years, and the MSF program offered exactly what I was looking for,” Alexis says.
The program also offered a chance to circle back to the early part of her career, when she worked in investment management.
Supporting the Startup Community
Throughout her career, Alexis has kept tabs on trends in the investment management world. Soon after starting the Master of Finance, she came across a story about the increasing popularity of impact investing at universities. This gave her an idea for the topic of her Graduate Capstone Project: how The School of Business could start an impact investing the fund. Alexis leveraged her startup experience and learnings from her MSF to help set up a successful impact investment program designed to build social equity alongside profit.
“I knew that this project could help me satisfy my entrepreneurial drive, challenge myself in a new way and learn more about the venture capital and startup landscape in Portland,” she says. “Through consulting projects, talent placement and now venture funding, the finance students and the program can add huge value to the startup community here in Portland.”
Alexis encourages current business students to stay connected with the university community after graduation and find their own individual way of contributing to the school’s mission of transforming lives through business.
“Now more than ever, you can have a career that makes a difference while also making a profit,” she says.
Shortly before graduating from the MSF program, Alexis was offered a summer fellowship with Beneficial State Bank, a Certified B Corporation. In her role, Alexis is researching and developing a strategic implementation plan for a new product that will provide critical services to the communities the bank aims to serve while also supporting the bank’s long-term financial sustainability. She hopes this is only the beginning of a long career in impact investing and sustainable finance.