Alumni Spotlight: Jacob Homchick

Alum Jacob Homchick was a student in the Computational Finance and Risk Management Master of Science online cohort of Autumn 2015. As a student, Jacob was able to apply his CFRM studies directly in his junior analyst role at Parametric, where he now leads the Quantitative Development team. Jacob recently shared his thoughts about his time in the CFRM program.

Undergraduate University: Western Washington University
CFRM Graduation Year: 2018
Current Location: Seattle, WA
Company: Parametric
Job Title: Quantitative Development Team Lead

Q: What is the best part of your current position? 
JH: My current position is team lead of Quantitative Development at Parametric. We are responsible for developing and maintaining our equity-based models. These models are key to our direct indexing business. There are several aspects that I enjoy, but the best part of my current role is working with leaders across the firm to architect solutions for complex problems. Implementing and researching these solutions is also great fun.   

Q: How did your time in the CFRM program help you with your career path?
JH: The program has helped me immensely in my career. There are several courses that are directly related to my work, specifically courses on risk models, optimization and software engineering. The CFRM program opened doors to roles that would not have been possible if it were not for the skills I attained through the program. 

Q: What was your most memorable event or activity during your time in the program? 
JH: I worked full time at Parametric while I was in the program. There were two career changing projects that benefited from just in time learning. What I mean by that is I learned something from one of the courses that I was able to apply immediately. 

The most memorable and reputational building moment happened while I was in Steve Murray’s optimization methods course. I was a junior analyst at the time and some senior members of our quant development team presented a formulation for a difficult optimization problem. The issue with their formulation was that it was too slow. I had a homework assignment on a similar problem the week prior. I realized that the problem could be reformulated with binary constraints. This sped up the optimization immensely.

From that point on, the senior members respected my input and knew that I had the necessary skills. About a year later a position opened up on their team and if it were not for this event, I am unsure if I would have landed that role. Fast forward a couple years and I now lead that team. 

Q: What advice would you give incoming CFRM students?
JH: The best advice I could give to incoming students is don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. There have been several times where I felt I was underqualified to be in the same room of other team members or the role I was in. I could say the same for many of the courses in the CFRM program. 

It turns out being uncomfortable is great for motivation. People don’t like to be uncomfortable, so they will work extremely hard until they have the necessary skills to remove that feeling. Once you are comfortable, it is probably time to challenge yourself again either with new projects or a new role.  

Q: What was your favorite CFRM course?
JH: This is a tough question. I enjoyed so many courses! My favorite was probably the c++ class with Dan Hanson. He was absolutely hilarious. Software engineering courses can be a bit dry, but Dan made me look forward to that class. It also gave me valuable skills that I have been able to capitalize on throughout my career. 

Q: What is something you wish you had known when starting graduate school? 
JH: From a literal interpretation of this question, I wish I had known probability in more depth. My lack of knowledge in this area became apparent in my first course. I felt like I was taking two courses that quarter. One from the CFRM program and a self-directed one on my own time. 

But that is probably not the intent of the question. So, I guess my real answer is that I wish I would have known the value of building connections. When someone knows your work and ability it is a lot easier to be recommended or maybe even hired by that person.