Professor Profile: Professor of Practice Mara Baumgarten Force

Walking into Mara Baumgarten Force’s Intro to Finance class can be an intimidating experience, especially as she stomps around in her sky-high Louboutin heels while she tells you about her years spent on a trading floor which left her insensitive and unoffendable.

But her status as a finance veteran shouldn’t be daunting. She encourages students to ask her questions, stay after class or just chat.

“Don’t be afraid of your professors; we’re here to help you and we’re thrilled to talk to you,” Force said. “For me anyway, if you’re in my class, come talk to me, come send me emails. If you don’t know what to say to me, send me an interesting article that you want me to read and I’ll read it. The reason why I’m here is to teach you and to interact with you. I can’t force people to interact with me but if you do, I’m thrilled and I’ll be helpful.”

Looking back at her own undergraduate years, she regrets running out of classes as soon as the hour was up.

“Especially from a professor’s perspective, it’s exciting and validating to have students who are interested in what you’re doing and come up to you and want to talk to you,” Force said.

Force said she came to Tulane to combine two of the things she loved most about J.P. Morgan: educating and being around smart people that encouraged her to grow.

“It’s a great place to be a part of an academic environment where I can still be in the markets and constantly learn and be around super smart people who can teach me things, which is something that I really enjoyed at J.P. Morgan,” Force said. “It also has all the best things that I loved about being a manager there — really being able to have a tangible, positive impact on somebody’s life and career.”

As for J.P. Morgan? She has 18 years experience, 34 managers and a variety of roles behind her. Force said she hopes to bring her experience working in a business environment to the classroom.

“Being flexible is something I want to get through to students,” Force said. “To be able to take things that come out of the book and apply them broadly, not just you know, memorize and plug and chug, but think about what the theories are trying to convey to you and how to apply them whether you’re in finance or not.”

After so many years of experience and a few years educating at Tulane, she has some practical advice to impart.

“Understanding how to keep options open making good decisions [is important],” Force said. “One of the things I find when talking to my students, not only in my class but when advising students, is that there’s always so afraid that a decision they’re going to make is going to be absolutely and unbelievably permanent for the rest of their lives; they’re never going to be able to change their mind if they chose this job. And I think one of the things that finance teaches you is how to value a decision but it doesn’t mean that that decision is absolutely monolithic for the rest of your life.”

In her free time you can find her throwing beads from Mardi Gras Krewes or reading a volume of one of the 100 Great Books which she and her husband each own a set of.

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