In 1996, Tyler Shaffer entered the University of Illinois as a history major, inspired by an amazing high school history teacher. At the time, he hoped to translate his early interest in history and government into a law degree and a career in politics.
Shaffer had always been drawn to politics and at the age of 15 began doing campaign work for Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald. Throughout college, he served as the deputy treasurer of Fitzgerald’s campaign committee, filing the campaign’s financial disclosures with the federal government.
In 2000, he graduated with a BA in history and moved to Chicago to work in Peter Fitzgerald’s US Senate office. Afterwards, he worked for two years with a start-up bank called Cornerstone National Bank-a bank that he literally helped build from the ground up.
“I had many opportunities to work with bankers and lawyers and, to be honest, the more I learned about the profession, the more I was interested in the business, not the legal aspect of it,” Shaffer says. With the clarity that comes with working in the real world for a few years, Shaffer decided to go back to school for his Masters of Science in Finance.
“I realized that I needed to go back to develop the technical financial skills that I was lacking,” Shaffer said. His love for the U of I made it the obvious destination for his advanced degree.
“The MSF program far exceeded my expectations. I was attracted to the fact that it was 12 months in duration, allowing me efficiently to re-enter the workforce. Today, I benefit from the applied nature of the learning I gained in business school. Everything I learned, for example, in my Mergers and Acquisitions class, I get to apply in my daily work. My job is a page torn directly out of the case studies,” Shaffer says.
Shaffer graduated in 2004 with his MS in Finance degree, and just like every other graduating college student, “managed finals and midterms with plane trips to various cities” for interviews. He interviewed with numerous companies before settling on the Robert Bosch Corporation, a German-owned international company with over 230,000 employees worldwide and more than 50 billion dollars in sales. He was attracted to their two-year management training program designed to fast-track employees into management positions. The program recruits people straight out of graduate-level business programs and rotates them through each business unit in the company during a two-year period.
In his position at Bosch, which includes responsibilities for financial forecasting, project calculations, and acquisition due-diligence, he continues to hone the financial skills he developed at Illinois. His projects have brought him to cities all over the US while working in functional areas such as sales, marketing, finance, and supply chain management. “My studies in the MS Finance program were superb preparation for the sort of issues confronting business managers on a daily basis,” he says.
Shaffer said that although the job description at Bosch was less defined than some of his other job offers, he understood it to be one that “provided high potential employees with the experiences necessary to become future leaders in the Bosch organization.”
He enjoys the project focus of his current position. “The emphasis is on developing a ‘total systems’ understanding of how the Robert Bosch Corporation works through participating in, or leading, key initiatives. Ultimately, no matter which business unit I find myself in, the myriad of experiences that I’ve had leave me uniquely prepared to add value.”
Eventually, Shaffer hopes to take an international assignment in Germany. To that end, he attends weekly language training sessions offered on-site at Bosch.
With his one-of-a-kind combination of degrees and background, Shaffer is able to offer Bosch an atypical brand of financial analysis. “I truly enjoy going beyond the numbers to really understanding the issues that drive my business. The skills that I developed at the University of Illinois allow me to take on increasing levels of responsibility with confidence in my abilities.”