Diversity and Inclusion at ModelOff

Bonded by financial modeling

Diversity at ModelOff

It is easily apparent that ModelOff operates in a heavily male dominated finance and financial modeling industry. While the reasons for this gender imbalance are complex and much debated, ModelOff is a strong believer in the importance of diversity at both an industry and society level. While the issue of diversity goes well beyond just gender diversity, it is the gender imbalance that is our main focus at present.

Start from Within
While keen to help address the gender, we needed to first look at ourselves and acknowledge that, like the industry we operate in, the team behind ModelOff is also male dominated.

As such, we chose to establish the ModelOff Diversity Council (see below) to help give us a better perspective on this issue and strategies to address it. In working with this group of accomplished financial modelers, who have been involved with ModelOff for many years, we have explored many of the complexities of this issue. Three important insights from these discussions to date are:

  • There is much greater gender balance at the student level relative to mid and upper management. Supporting and maintain this balance as those individuals progress their career is vitally important.
  • Women tend to (although not always) have different motivation for participating in activities, competitions and challenges compared to men. The structure on ModelOff needs to reflect this.
  • Female role-models are critically important to improving gender balance.

In 2018, we have redesigned many elements of the ModelOff competition to help ensure it appeals to a more gender balanced audience. Many of these changes are focused on ensuring that all participants, particularly students and young professionals, can tap into the educational benefits of competing in this fun global competition and ensuring it is accessible as possible.

ModelOff is also putting an increased emphasis on preparatory webinars and other leaning and development opportunities led by female financial modelers.

Our Approach and Beliefs
Ultimately, ModelOff is a merit-based competition and we don’t believe that gender has any impact on one’s ability to be a great financial modeler. As such, we don’t believe that initiatives such as gender-based quotas for finalist are an appropriate approach to addressing this issue.

We do however recognise that the accumulation of many gender-biased (both conscious and unconscious) systems, interactions and activities over many years has led to an imbalance of opportunities between men and women. Thus, our overarching approach is to ensure we provide equal opportunities and motivations to men and women by actively seeking out and correcting biased ways of thinking that prevent this from happening.

We know there is not one quick fix to the diversity and gender balance issues, and we are constantly looking for more ways to improve this. We welcome input and support form our global community and invite you to reach out to us on this to topic at any time. You can always reach us HERE.

ModelOff Diversity Council Members
Danielle Stein Fairhurst
Principal Finance Modeller @ Plum Solutions

Danielle Stein Fairhurst is the Principal of Plum Solutions, a Sydney-based consultancy specialising in financial modelling and analysis. She is the author of “Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies” published by Wiley in 2017 and “Using Excel for Business Analysis; a Fundamental Approach to Financial Modelling”, Revised Edition published by Wiley Finance 2015. With over fourteen years’ experience as a financial analyst, she helps her clients create meaningful financial models in the form of business cases, pricing models and management reports. She has hands-on experience in a number of industry sectors, including telecoms, information systems, manufacturing and financial services.

Danielle has regular engagements around Australia and globally as a speaker, course facilitator, financial modelling consultant and analyst. She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), and has taught management accounting subjects at Sydney University.

Hilary Smart
Portfolio Analysis Manager @ Bioenergy Infrastructure

Hilary holds a masters in mathematics from the University of Cambridge. She believes that the ability to think logically and break complicated transactions down into easily understood components is key to building robust financial models. Hilary was the winner of ModelOff 2013 in New York, and she looks forward to welcoming the Finalists to her home town of London this year.

A manager at Operis, a financial advisory consultancy firm that specialises in financial modelling, Hilary primarily works on project finance transactions for large infrastructure deals. She has particular experience in the renewables sector, and in developing operating models. In addition to building models, Hilary particularly enjoys undertaking model reviews, and she has learned a lot about different modelling styles through exposure to models built by a vast number of modellers.

What is the most unique thing you have ever done in Excel?
Nothing too unique I’m afraid – I like to keep things as simple as I can (but not simpler).

Adrienne Wheeler
Adjunct Assistant Professor @ City University of New York

I teach graduate, undergraduate and online students how to resolve real world dilemmas using Information Technology and Information Systems. The robust and versatile Solver and eXtensible Business Reporting Language applications, Visual Basic programs and PowerPivot/Dashboard analyses that my students present compel their classmates to generate even more impressive work in each successive round. My Networking Technologies students gain practical familiarity with the configuration, troubleshooting, security management and future implications of our connected world by monitoring current events in this field, carrying out hands-on exercises and conducting informational interviews with Networking Technologies professionals. Witnessing and documenting students’ learning outcomes helps me contribute new knowledge to the field of instructional technology. I am passionate about helping students improve their prospects for distinguished, interesting, fulfilling careers.

Natalie Bayfield
Chairwoman @ Bayfield Training

Natalie invented real estate financial modelling (REFM) as a subject in its own right. She developed the very first course on REFM leading to degree status, MPhil Real Estate Finance at the University of Cambridge. Using her unique integrated KPI led approach, Natalie has consulted on the financial and operational viability for major retail developments and new city projects all over the world. Natalie is committed to sustainability and has a long term interest urban dynamics. As well as working with large international shopping centres, in her spare time she volunteers for the remote Glendale Highland Market on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, which she helped establish in 2015.

Fiona Foster
Deals Manager @ PwC New York

Fiona Foster is a Deals Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the corporate finance and financial modeling industries. She is currently helping to build PwC US Strategic Value Consulting practice with a focus on Financial Modeling. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Valuation, Corporate Finance and Due Diligence.

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