Charles Schwab & Co. is not affiliated with CU Denver
After finishing his undergraduate degree in biopsychology, Christopher Foye was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. He couldn’t find a job and was feeling regretful with the direction he took during his time in college.
Getting out into the real world after graduating can be difficult and intimidating, and sometimes, you don’t always end up where you thought you would.
So in 2005, Christopher made the decision to move to Colorado from Michigan to jump into the mortgage industry. He says that about three quarters of his network in Denver were in the mortgage industry at the time, so it was an easy field for him to get into.
The evolution of a new career
Christopher started out in software testing at Lehman Brothers Inc, where he was a part of the mortgage division, Aurora Loan Services. When Lehman was collapsing, they took the software testing group and moved them under the risk function team. At that point, the company needed all the help they could get.
Christopher expanded, “When that happened, the head of risk function took note of the work I was doing and said, ‘Why don’t you come work for me doing risk management versus doing testing?’”
The bankruptcy progressed and the company went under. Fortunately, the head of risk at Lehman had a connection to Charles Schwab and was able to refer Christopher to a job there.
Foye’s career evolved from biopsychology, software testing, financial services, and now to operational risk where he still is today, at Schwab.
How CU Denver shaped his success
“When I first applied, there wasn’t a risk management program available. But I got in and then all of a sudden, there was a risk management program available and everything fell into place!”- Christopher Foye
Christopher knew he wanted to attend graduate school, but he wasn’t sure in what. He applied to the Professional MBA program at CU Denver, as he thought that’d be the best and most logical track to take.
“When I first applied, there wasn’t a risk management program available. But I got in and then all of a sudden, there was a risk management program available and everything fell into place!”
Christopher pursued a dual degree of a Professional MBA in Information Systems and an MS in Finance and Risk Management. He was looking for a more well-rounded perspective on risk management and all aspects of the discipline.
He shared, “I decided I wanted to focus there because that was something I didn’t have a lot of experience in.”
Knowledge is power
The market around risk management and insurance has quickly evolved, and for Foye, his dual degree at CU Denver gave him knowledge he not only uses in his career, but in his day-to-day life. The collaborative approach of the program gave him a community to belong to and has taken him distances he never thought possible.
His biggest takeaway from his experience at the Business School was not feeling pressured to be locked into a single track.
“You can tend to be so focused on something, that’s either your career or where you want to go. But there are tons of opportunities around.”
He turned his knowledge into a successful career at Charles Schwab. When he first started there, there were only four people working in operational risk. Today, there are close to 70 people in the department, 17 of which work under him.
“You can tend to be so focused on something, that’s either your career or where you want to go. But there are tons of opportunities around.”- Christopher Foye
A career with a purpose
Risk management falls under three major disciplines: insurance, financial risk, and operational risk. Being under operational risk, Christopher and his team try to mitigate loss that’s caused by people process, systems, or something external. They evaluate potential risks there are at the firm around operational events and put controls in place to try to prevent them.
He expanded on his role, saying, “When there’s a big incident, we look and we say, ‘What could we have done better there?’”
Through the risk management program, Christopher was able to find a niche with how technology can enable financial services. He maintains the systems and brings data in that reports out on stuff like credit card fraud, when a person slips and falls, or even for hurricane damage. Foye works hard every day to make sure he’s assisting those in avoiding risk and helping them when they can’t.
Advice for the future
Looking back on his time at CU Denver, Christopher advises students to make the most of their experience through the career tools available to them at the Business School. There are so many resources that can connect you to companies like Charles Schwab.
One of the most important components to landing the job of your dreams is networking. “Your network’s huge,” Christopher said. “It’s great to see future talent being cultivated.” He has a lot of pride for anything that’s helped him along the way, and he’s reminded every day of the importance of his dual degree from the Business School.
His last piece of advice is to “broaden your vision, take advantage of the tools that are there, and the people that are there, even if you don’t think you need to.”
“Broaden your vision, take advantage of the tools that are there, and the people that are there, even if you don’t think you need to.” – Christopher Foye