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Title: Chair, Accounting and Finance Department; Associate Professor of Accounting and Finance, and Economics
Best Office Artifact: Bull and bear bookends
After a successful career on Wall Street, economics professor Cassie Lau traded the streets of New York City for the Lake Michigan shoreline at Carthage.
Professor Lau held positions such as assistant treasurer, vice president, senior director, and managing director for a variety of companies throughout her career in New York. In the classroom, Professor Lau enriches her lessons with examples and real-world situations from her extensive economics experiences.
As a teacher of Accounting and Finance, and Economics, Professor Lau continues to surprise students with knowledge in and outside the classroom. She encourages them to be open and take advantage of office hours. They may learn something they never expected, like Professor Lau’s attempt at dragon boating for example.
We sat down with Professor Lau to learn more about why she chose Carthage, what she hopes for her students and more of her surprising interests.
How did you become interested in accounting and finance?
“I majored in economics in college and at that time the large banks had training programs; I needed a job, I applied and was accepted. Trainees were encouraged to take several banking/ finance courses. I took one and found it interesting, so I decided to get my MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business in their evening program which cemented my interest in finance.”
What was your journey to becoming a professor at Carthage like? Why did you choose Carthage?
“I worked on Wall Street for several years and was looking for a change around the time of the financial crisis. Finance was getting a really bad name and I decided I’d like to be involved in showing people how to use finance for productive, honest outcomes. I went back to school to earn a Ph.D. and came across Carthage while interviewing after finishing my degree. I fell for the size, the lake, and the opportunity to teach in economics and finance.”
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“Through my work, I learned how to balance providing support while challenging individuals to figure out solutions with teammates. I use similar skills to challenge our students.”
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How have you pushed students outside of their comfort zones?
“As part of my job I built and managed teams of professionals. That takes helping people find their strengths while working on their shortcomings. Through my work, I learned how to balance providing support while challenging individuals to figure out solutions with teammates. I use similar skills to challenge our students.”
Students often rave about your ability to intertwine personal experience into your lessons. How has your time in the banking and financial service industries in New York contributed to your teachings at Carthage?
“I become fully vested in what I’m doing and that enthusiasm hopefully carries over into my teaching.”
What are some hobbies or interests you have that may be surprising to students?
“I love literature, art, and traveling; rock and roll, Motown, and opera. I tried out dragon boating, and I’m on a trivia team.”
What is your favorite class to teach?
“I really enjoyed the Carthage Symposium on Ethical Dilemmas in Business and Life that I designed/taught this spring, but also enjoy Money & Banking, Corporate Finance, and Macroeconomics.”
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“My best advice is to be open and try things out. Most things worth doing are not easy but when you are successful it is very rewarding. ”
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What advice do you have for new or prospective students interested in your Departments? Anything you wish you would have known as an undergrad?
“My best advice is to be open and try things out. Take advantage of the fact that the finance and economics professors are at Carthage to provide guidance for students to find their passions, so reach out and get their insights. Most things worth doing are not easy but when you are successful it is very rewarding. Part of being an adult is making choices: decide on a few things to focus on and do them well, rather than joining a multitude of clubs and organizations.”
Is there anything else you would like to add about your work or time at Carthage?
“Office hours are not just for when you’re struggling academically: drop by and get to know us.”
— Interview by Madeline Paakkonen ’21