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Close-up: Shreesh Deshpande

USD professor credits one instructor with decision to pursue finance

It was just one instructor who placed Shreesh Deshpande on a career path in finance, and now he works to do the same for his students at the University of San Diego.

Deshpande decided to pursue his MBA after receiving his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and working with an automotive manufacturing company. Deshpande met this professor while earning his MBA, who was able to use corporate experience to relate numbers to actual companies.

“He had a very intuitive way of explaining things. That’s maybe something I’ve tried to pursue myself,” Deshpande said. “As far as possible, I try to bring corporate events into the discussion. When I teach mergers and acquisitions, there’s a whole numerical and analytical process, and then I put that in context of some of the well known mergers — why they were undertaken, why they failed, and so forth.”

Deshpande said he enjoyed his engineering education and still likes to see things being made, but enjoys finance because there is always something new every day to read about in the industry.

Shreesh Deshpande. Staff photo by Sarah Strong

Deshpande taught at Concordia University in Montreal for three years before coming to USD in 1988.

It was Deshpande’s MBA colleagues at Clarkson University who introduced the idea of teaching.

“I was so interested in finance, a lot of my MBA colleagues would come to me for help with the finance tutorials and assignments. They all said, ‘Shreesh, you need to get into teaching,’” Deshpande said.

He then decided to pursue his doctorate in finance at Pennsylvania State University.

Much has changed since Deshpande was studying for his MBA. The dollar volume of transactions, the types of transactions and the idea of financial engineering are all different now, he said.

“When I was doing my MBA, I can think of only one billion-dollar merger and acquisition, and now there’s one every week or every 10 days,” Deshpande said.

Hedge funds and private equity weren’t discussed when he was in school, which he said is huge now. Financial engineering — to create new financial products — wasn’t something he heard about, either.

“All we had was stocks, bonds and options and futures contracts. Now you hear about all kinds of exotic financial products, which are hard to figure out sometimes,” Deshpande said.

The change over the years has been a result of a growth in economies around the world, Deshpande said, and a growth a business — which creates a need for financial instruments to control or hedge risks.

USD’s finance major was only started in 2007, with an expectation to attract about 80 students — the major now enrolls about 350 students, he said. With an improving economy, Deshpande expects a demand for new hires. He tells his students to be competitive and understand that the competition exists not only in the classroom, but among all students earning business and finance degrees.

Deshpande also uses this advice and strives to continue learning and using the latest textbooks and new technologies in class. In his most recent research, he and his colleagues studied the effect of cross-border acquisitions globally and looked into the effect on the acquirer’s stock price, the target company’s stock price, and how financial analysts revised their earnings forecast for the acquirers.

“What we did find is that they do definitely revise upwards their earnings forecast for the acquirers,” Deshpande said. “We had a sample of about 16,000 global mergers and that was one of the conclusions.”

Deshpande’s short term goal is to continue recruiting faculty to serve the growing number of students by offering courses that enable them to be competitive, post graduation. An internal finance program review was completed two years ago in which people in the finance industry, recruiters, deans of other business schools and a focus group of USD’s finance majors were asked how to improve the finance major. The results showed that the classes should focus more on financial statement analysis and Excel skills.

A minimum set of Excel assignments are now required in USD’s foundation finance class and a USD alum was invited to teach two four-hour seminars on basic Excel, as well as advanced modeling. Deshpande said there was a good response and he will be invited back again in the spring. What was originally an elective focusing on financial statements is now a requirement, as a result of the internal review.

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Dave Pyke 9:11am January 22, 2013

As Professor Deshpande's colleague and dean, I would add that students uniformly rave about his teaching. He makes difficult concepts clear and understandable, and he is always available for them to get help outside of class. His research is also very high quality and relevant.