College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Careful Planning and Pragmatism Accompany Alumnus on Path To Success


Federico Stiegwardt on the job at Cargill.“You're not always going to get your dream career at the first step.” That’s Federico Stiegwardt's pragmatic caution against unrealistic expectations during a job search. A 2004 graduate of the MS in Finance program, Stiegwardt is a credit manager at Cargill Incorporated, a privately held, agriculture-based multinational corporation.

Early in his 12-month long graduate program in the College, Stiegwardt started exploring various careers, using his contacts and meeting visiting executives. During the winter break, he surfed the websites of various companies that piqued his interest, searching for open positions. In a number of cases, he liked what he saw and submitted his resume.

Stiegwardt carefully researched his career choice and pursued his Cargill position thoughtfully. Soon after submitting his resume to Cargill's website, he received a call for an interview. And he had success. Stiegwardt started working at the company's headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in mid-2004 in the risk management area. His Cargill job involves risk management, portfolio management, trading/marketing terms negotiation, and the design of commercial finance-derivatives contracts.

“No single qualification or experience makes a person suitable for a job,” he says. “It is always the combination of work experience, life experience, the ability to contribute and be part of a team as well as communication and personal skills that decides whether someone is a good fit or not.”

In fact, risk management was only one of the career areas he explored as he pursued his graduate degree. When looking for a position, Stiegwardt recommends selecting a field that offers numerous career paths as an all-important first step. That is the kind of profile people should choose, he says, because of the flexibility such a choice offers.

Working for a multinational suits him. What he enjoys most about his job is “the exposure to lots of different geographies, different cultures, different types of businesses. Every single day is different.”

What does Stiegwardt remember or use from the MSF program on a daily basis? “Everything.” He says he remembers specific moments from some classes, the faces of the professors making some critical statements or answering many of his questions, and the often hard team work in the library after classes. “Those teachings are going not only help me in my career,” he says now. “They also make me better in approaching my personal goals and research for life.” He cites risk vs. return approach, realistic and comparable measures of return, long-term performance, discounted cash flow analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and fundamentals and quantitative analysis as applications from classes that he uses daily.

at work...

Originally from Argentina, Stiegwardt says his international experience and knowledge of more than one language has been essential to his success on the job. In addition, he says that recruiters look for numerical aptitude, the ability to work under pressure, and a strong credit background.


--Shweta Sundararajan, Jan06

UIUC College of Business