Banking on herself: A Q&A with Silberman alumna Olga Melnyk

By Kenna Caprio

With limited knowledge of the English language, Olga Melnyk, MBA’13 (Metro), left her home and family full of musicians and teachers in Ukraine for a life in the United States. Years later, she received her Masters of Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and then landed a highly-coveted position as a credit analyst for TD Bank in New York City, New York — in part, she says, because of the research she contributed to as a graduate student. In her spare time, she’s also mastered English.

Olga Melnyk
Alumna Olga Melnyk

FDU: What brought you to FDU for your MBA?

OM: I was interested in attending a university that was rich in tradition. FDU is also well known for its high academic standards, especially in the field of finance. Additionally, the university’s student diversity made it a very comfortable place for someone like me, coming from another country, to attend. The incredible experience I had at FDU has prepared me well for my career in banking.

FDU: Why did you decide to study business? Did you always want to work in finance?

OM: The Silberman College of Business is known internationally as one of the best business schools in the United States. The diverse offering of classes and majors was very attractive to me. Additionally, the experience and various backgrounds of the professors within Silberman helped made it an invaluable experience. I have always had an interest in finance, and in particular, banking.

FDU: Did any Silberman classes stand out to you?

OM: I took the class Operations and Supply Chain Management with Dr. (Mohammad) Sedaghat. The course was very interesting, and Dr. Sedaghat’s way of teaching was very inspirational.

FDU: You later did research with Dr. Sedaghat. How did you become interested and involved in the research?

During one of the classes, Dr. Sedaghat explained a supply and demand queue. He told us about research that he was doing with Dr. (Gaston) Mendoza and Dr. (Kwangsun) Yoon on this topic. I expressed an interest to participate and become part of the research team. Dr. Sedaghat and the other professors gladly accepted me as part of the team, which has become one of my best educational experiences to date.

FDU: When did you do work on the project? What did the research show?

OM: The research team started the supply and demand research in 2012 and it was published in International Journal of Management & Information Systems in 2014.

In many business organizations today, balancing supply and demand is an important consideration. If the demand is higher than the supply, a policy maker has two choices: increase the supply or decrease the demand. On the other hand, if the supply is higher than the demand, the policymaker may choose to lower the supply, or promote more demand. In either case, there is a cost associated with the balancing. The optimum decision then depends on the total cost that may be incurred as a result of selecting one of the above policies.      

In this paper, the main focus was on situations where a stochastic (randomly determined) system has become unstable due to demand exceeding supply. To determine how sensitive optimal solutions are to changes in model parameters for each policy — either decreasing demand or increasing supply — exact optimal solutions were found for a large number of scenarios. We then applied this data to fit the best possible regression model. The paper applies the model to research funding, where proposals typically compete for scarce funding resources.

FDU: Do you encourage other students to do research with a faculty member in their discipline?

OM: I always strive to do more than what is expected of me, because that is what will make me a better employee and person as a whole. You can learn and discover so many new things when you dive deeper into something you are interested in. Working with smart and motivated people on a research project will give you knowledge and experience that you won’t be able to achieve anywhere else. Interviewers will always acknowledge and appreciate the experience and knowledge that you’ve gain while working on research. Knowledge is an indispensable asset.

FDU: How do you feel this research and work helped you post-graduation? What did it show potential employers?

OM: Working with Dr. Sedaghat on this research was a great benefit for me. First of all, such a tremendous accomplishment made my résumé stand out among many other candidates. Second, I gained valuable analytical experience while working on the paper that I could’ve been able to leverage into any financial position. During interviews, it was clear that my 3.9 GPA and research experience interested interviewers the most. I was asked a lot of questions about what kind of work I did for this research and which analytical skills and tools I used for it. Having such analytical skills is a critical requirement in any credit analyst position.

FDU: Tell me about applying and interviewing for your job at TD Bank. Did you interview at many other companies? 

OM: After graduation, I wanted to leverage the tremendous education I received and the positive experiences I had at FDU, so I applied for several opportunities in banking. Of all the interviews I had, TD Bank interested me the most. Their interview process was the most thorough, and the discussions we had focused on creating an environment of diverse, well-rounded employees, and creating the most pleasant work environment possible. The opportunities available for upward mobility were very appealing as well. In my short time at TD Bank, I have already experienced everything we discussed during the interview process, and have been fortunate enough to receive promotions a couple of times.

FDU: What do you do as a credit analyst in asset based lending?

OM: I work in the department that provides working capital to large companies. To be more specific, we provide funds and monitor each borrower’s financial performance, their collateral movements, industry influence and performance. The most satisfying part of my job is that I get to work with such a diverse group of people, all working together to achieve a common goal. Additionally, it’s been a great networking opportunity, as I have been able to interact with various departments and many colleagues at multiple levels within the organization. I am also getting first-hand experience on everything that is going on within different industries, as that is my responsibility as well.

FDU: How does it feel to work for a huge company on Madison Avenue in New York City? Is it where you wanted to be after graduating?

OM: Although TD Bank has thousands of employees, it feels like I am working in a much smaller organization, which is a good thing. I enjoy the benefits of a large organization, such as great healthcare, opportunities to explore other product and service lines, various training courses, and exposure to many unique and diverse employees. I feel that I am well positioned to advance further in my career based where I am right now at TD Bank.

FDU: Where do you see your career going in the future?

OM: As someone who is very driven, and who believes that great things can be accomplished with hard work, I truly believe that there is no limit to what someone can achieve. For me personally, I want to continue to grow in my role as a credit analyst, and always think about what else I can do to help TD Bank achieve its goals, as well as mine.