Alumni Spotlight – Cynthia Clark

Cynthia Clark earned her Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from NC State in 1976 and currently works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. With over thirty years of experience in the financial industry, Mrs. Clark has helped numerous individuals and companies. Along with her husband Joe Hackley, Mrs. Clark has been an avid supporter of NC State. We interviewed Cynthia Clark about her experiences.

Q: What do you remember most about your time as a statistics undergraduate student?
A: It had a small college feel tucked inside of a huge university. I received lots of support from the faculty within PAMS and I had a wonderful advisor in Dr. Robert Steele. He encouraged me to branch out and explore different areas of study with my electives, which provided me with a well-rounded education. Dr. Steele guided me through a post graduation job search during my senior year – I received two great job offers.  What makes that really amazing is that was a very difficult time to receive even one offer.
It was always a challenge explaining to my parents that a test score of 42 was actually a B+. Even more challenging was hiding the fact that my dorm was going to be coed my sophomore year…
Q: How did you become interested in statistics and finance?
A: I have always enjoyed math and the school system that I attended had a wealth of advanced math classes. Statistics provided a major that I thoroughly enjoyed and a great career path. As to my transition from a statistical engineer with Corning Glass to Finance, I give a lot of credit to My Merrill Lynch financial advisor who encouraged me to consider it. 
Q: How long have you worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated?  
A: I started my career as a Financial Advisor in 1981, and moved to Merrill Lynch in 2000. In 1981, the Dow was at 850.
Q: How often do you use statistics as a financial advisor?
A: Constantly as a Wealth Management Advisor. My team focuses on a wide array of financial services including retirement planning and portfolio development.
Q: What advice do you have for students interested in the finance industry? Are there any particular statistical topics to which students should have some exposure?
A: Beyond the coursework in statistics and economy, I would highly recommend behavioral finance, accounting and logic. I am a Certified Financial Planner™ and would strongly encourage pursuing that designation.
Q: As an alumnus, you have continued to contribute to the college through various committees and endowments. Is there a particular contribution that you are most proud of?
A: I appreciate the time Denise Malloy Hubbard took explaining the responsibility that each alum has to give back to our College, and then showing me ways to accomplish that. It is a direct result of my College of Science education that Joe and I are in a position to help others succeed. Being able to help the Science House is an amazing opportunity to touch so many young students. Also, Joe and I enjoyed co-chairing the first Scope Academy.