Fall 2016 Special Topics Courses: Applied Equity Investment and Corporate Social Responsibility

Students still putting together their Fall 2016 schedule should consider some of the college’s special topics courses, which provide intensive study of business topics not regularly covered in the course offerings. In this post, we feature Professor Wightkin’s Applied Equity Investment Management course and Professor Lloyd's Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility course.

FIN 594 Applied Equity Investment Management

When John Wightkin looks back on his first interviews out of his MBA, he recalls the breadth of the MBA education, and the corresponding lack of depth. “Sitting down for an interview at Goldman Sachs, I felt prepared to recite facts about investments or how to perform calculations,” Wightkin says. “If they’d asked me about capital budgeting or how the buy side and sell side of the business are structured–basic stuff, which FIN 594 covers in the first class–I would have been at a loss.”

For FIN 594, Wightkin places great emphasis on the ‘Applied’ part of the course title. “I set students up in unstructured problems and say, ‘which stocks would you recommend, how would you manage your portfolio, show me your options strategy, show me how you hedge’. In an investment firm, you have to put theory to work, you have to problem-solve.” The class itself is split into a section on stock selection and a section on portfolio management. Within stock selection, Wightkin covers the fundamentals, as well as technical and quantitative techniques. “Before my 25 years in investments, I was an engineer. I’ve always loved the numbers, how there’s never a totally correct answer, how everyday some gray area creates opportunities.”

In addition to his teaching and investment practice, Wightkin is involved in the Chicago Quantitative Alliance, and brings aspects of the CQA Investment Challenge into the classroom. “When my students go into an interview, they can say, ‘look, I ran a market-neutral long-short portfolio, analyzed risks with Axioma, presented my own strategy’–firms will see right away that they know what they’re talking about.”

FIN 594 is not limited to MSF students. MBA students, MSA students, and anyone else who wants to understand investments are encouraged to apply.

MGMT 594 Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility

How can a corporation be socially responsive to the community in which they hope to find customers? In MGMT 594, Professor Anna Lloyd leads students on an exploration of social responsibility covering a wide range of activity, including the work of social entrepreneurs like Muhammad Yunus, the public-private partnerships that emerged out of the Community Reinvestment Act, and the success of companies like Toms.

“The overarching theme of the course is how to build long-term sustainable relationships with customers,” says Lloyd. “We look at big firms. What could an IBM, a DuPont, or an Exxon do differently? And we look at small businesses and entrepreneurs who invest in learning how a product or service can support what customers value in their communities.” For Lloyd, the question of customer values entails some introspection; students will reflect on their own values, and discuss how their business ambitions mesh or conflict with their social values. “A business is made sustainable not only by its customer relations, but also by its employees,” Lloyd says. “On the one hand, I teach students how values anchor a business in a community, and on the other hand, how values anchor a person in their work.”

Though the course is listed among UIC Liautaud's management offerings, it has proved popular with marketing students, and is open to students from all fields.

To register for FIN 594, MGMT 594, and other special topics courses, visit my.uic.edu/common/.