Student feature: Meet Ron Tinnell

Program: The Master of Science in Finance

Graduation Year: 2022

Program Schedule: Full Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business at Portland State.

I have a B.S. in Computer Science and worked as a software engineer for over 20 years. After running a small business following my departure from the software industry, 2020 brought that business to an end. Finance has always been an interest of mine and I witnessed many times how it impacted decisions in both my business and personal life.

What do you intend to do with your graduate business degree?

I expect to combine my Computer Science and Finance degrees to enter the financial technology (FinTech) industry. Most if not all transactions are or will be paperless in the future.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

Simply learning the vocabulary of finance has helped immensely. In the past, reading financial reports, or listening to the Fed speak about central bank policy was a struggle. I am gaining the ability to understand how the economy really operates and how the interactions between business and government cause shifts in markets across the globe.

Describe your experience attending graduate school remotely and what your education has meant to you during this pandemic. 

During the Fall 2020 Term, professors used a mix of lecture and breakout rooms with group exercises during Zoom sessions. In one instance, group project collaboration was so challenging, each of us were allowed to complete the assignment solo. Remote collaboration is normally positive, but nothing beats being in a room together.

Remote learning also includes more technical challenges and disruptions. During my first session of a class, the professor was disconnected three times during the two hours, disrupting the flow of the class.

The pandemic was one of the reasons I had to close down my business. Returning to school seemed to be a great opportunity to pivot my career. Overall, classes in the MSF program are going well remotely, and the professors have clearly spent time learning to adapt to the new paradigm.

How do you spend your free time?

I am an Oregonian born and raised and love the outdoors. I ski, hike, bike, and camp whenever possible. I understand that you do not tan in Oregon, you rust, but it does not tend to stop me.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate business students who are interested in your field?

Decide if you want to be a numbers person and focus on accounting or finance. I believe finance focuses on the bigger picture and uses accounting data as a reference to justify decisions which need to be made.

What inspires you?

The possibility that Portland and the state of Oregon can go back to being a leader in progressive thinking. The bottle bill, land use laws, light rail, bike centric transportation, and renewable energy are areas where once, we led. I hope we can be leaders again and show the world how to do it.

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