|UMD senior Isaac Beckel is majoring in financial markets with a minor in political science.|
After graduating from a two-year college at the top of his class, Isaac Beckel thought he knew what he wanted. “My goal was to become a field service diesel technician and then eventually a service manager in the heavy equipment industry,” he said.
Beckel rose through the ranks quickly, first at John Deere and then at Caterpillar. “In 2010, I was offered a promotion to service manager at the Caterpillar dealership where I was working. My 20-year career goal had been reached in about seven years.”
The realization was a wake up call. For Beckel, having a job that wasn’t challenging just wasn’t satisfying. “I enjoyed it, but I’ve got to be pushing myself,” he said. So he declined the promotion and decided to focus on something he’d always enjoyed - financial markets. This interest led him to UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) and their Financial Markets Program.
He had dabbled in the markets, investing and trading on his own, learning as he went by reading in his spare time. The thought of going to school and getting a degree in financial markets was exhilarating. “The markets really get me excited,” he said.
Initially Beckel, who lives in Brule, Wis., took night and online classes at LSBE, in addition to working full time. Then in January 2012, he quit Caterpillar in order to attend school full time. Because he is a husband and father of three girls, ages 10, 7, and 2, he still needed to provide for his family. “I started my own business, Fabworks, LLC, which does custom metal fabrication." Also, for the past two summers, he’s worked in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
Beckel has found LSBE’s Financial Markets Program to be everything he hoped it would be. One of the highlights is helping to manage UMD’s Bulldog Fund, LLC, a real portfolio of more than $1,000,000. Active research and analysis conducted by students in the Wells Fargo Financial Markets Lab is designed to replicate a real-world investment setting.
He is on the Fund’s energy sector team and is able to draw upon his experiences and observations at the Bakken oil fields to help in his analyst role. He enjoys having the opportunity to gain hands-on learning. “The experience is so unique,” he said. The student’s record is good. They’ve outperformed the S&P 500 by about 1% this past year.
The program has sometimes pushed him out of his comfort zone. One of those areas has been in public speaking. “They really stress that. We present weekly. It’s exciting, scary, but it’s worth it.” With plenty of practice, he’s grown confident and comfortable making presentations.
All of his hard work was recently rewarded when he received LSBE’s Charles & Sharon Anderson Entrepreneurship Scholarship. “I didn’t think I had a chance but applied any way,” he said. Taking a chance paid off. “It’s huge. It helps me focus on school more. It means I have less to worry about.” In addition to the money, it also means a lot to him to be recognized for his efforts. “It’s cool knowing that there is somebody who saw something on my resume that they thought was promising.”
Beckel will graduate in May 2014 with a degree in financial markets and a minor in political science. He looks forward to a challenging career in the financial services industry. He has no regrets about leaving his old job to pursue new dreams. Those who can, never settle for good enough.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, Dec. 2013