It was time for Anika Hedstrom, MBA ’09, to escape her comfort zone. After completing a degree in Business Administration from the University of Montana, Hedstrom was working as an account coordinator for a boutique ad agency in Missoula. The job was engaging, but the city was small--and the hours were long. She was drawn to business, but the rest was a blank. “I just knew I wanted to go to grad school,” said Hedstrom, 29. “I consider myself a nerd. I absolutely love to learn, to be challenged and stimulated, and I love the academic environment.”
Hedstrom was born in Corvallis, Oregon, and was eager to return to the Pacific Northwest. She was also looking for a small, intimate program where students could develop strong relationships with professors and peers alike. In 2009, she began MBA studies at the University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business.
Hedstrom joined the Finance and Securities Analysis Center and became part of a team of MBAs working on a real-world project to commercialize a new technology. The missing pieces started to emerge. She served as CFO for the group, studying the market feasibility of an environmental remediation technology. It was a difficult project with complex financial analysis, but Hedstrom enjoyed the entire process. “That really helped me to determine what I wanted to do from a professional standpoint,” she said.
Her second discovery occurred halfway around the globe. As part of the Oregon MBA’s Engaging Asia initiative, Hedstrom traveled to China with her MBA classmates to explore the country's influential economy. When the official trip ended, Hedstrom stayed in China for several more weeks to test her travel savvy. She loved learning about other cultures and quickly saw a future in international business. The trip revealed a B-side to her newfound passion for finance. The vision was complete.
“Going to China gave me the confidence that I can come to a really interesting, large, emerging market and do well.”
After finishing her MBA, Hedstrom joined the elite Financial Development Program at Chevron, which uses three, six-month job placements to expose new hires to the company’s core business areas. Hedstrom started at Chevron’s corporate headquarters in San Ramon, California, placing short-term investments.
Next, Hedstrom traveled to Bangkok, Thailand. She worked as a financial analyst for Internal Controls and Compliance at the company’s Asia South Business Unit, which covers Thailand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. She traversed Southeast Asia and even had to replace her well-stamped passport with a new one: “I can honestly say it was the most amazing experience of my life.”
In March 2011, Hedstrom completed her final rotation at Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California, where she performed earnings forecasting and actualizations. She’s now packing her bags for Houston, Texas, to join the Risk Management Group, where she’ll ensure Chevron’s commercial and trading activities comply with federal regulations. The program represents Hedstrom’s ideal combination of “hard-core finance” and international business, moving her steadily toward her goal of working overseas in a management role.
Hedstrom started her MBA with a blurry sense of possibility and left Eugene with clarity, experience, and strength. “I came in very much lacking confidence,” she said. “The entire experience, from pre-MBA to post-MBA to where I am now both personally and professionally, has involved so much growth.”
She also developed close relationships that have endured beyond the campus. Hedstrom is one of several women from her graduating class who plan annual trips together. First was Las Vegas, then Chicago. Costa Rica is next on their collective calendar. Life has changed “100 percent” for Hedstrom since she left Montana—and it’s only a matter of time before the globe-trotting financial analyst fills yet another passport.