Yee Chang ’15: Recent Grad Uses Mairs & Power Award to Chart a Course in the Investment Industry Posted on December 17th, 2015 by

By Victoria Clark ’14

Yee Chang '15

Yee Chang ’15

Yee Chang ’15 realized she had a passion for investing early in her time at Gustavus Adolphus College after she took a class in Business Finance her sophomore year. When the opportunity arose to apply for a newly established award for investment study, she jumped at the chance. Chang became the inaugural recipient of the Mairs & Power Award for Investment Study in the fall of 2014.

The award was co-founded by Mark ’83 and Terri ’83 Henneman, who named the award in honor of the prestigious St. Paul-based investment firm Mairs & Power, Inc. where Mark serves as president and chief investment officer.

The Hennemans hope the award galvanizes student interest in investment careers, especially among women who remain underrepresented in the field. In addition to a financial scholarship, recipients are partnered with Mark as an alumni mentor who provides career advice and helps recipients prepare for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam.

Chang, who grew up in the thriving Hmong community of the Twin Cities, saw the award as a way to jump-start her career and equip her with the tools she would need to give back to the community. In the future, she wants to help Hmong business owners and community members utilize investments as a way to build wealth and increase economic opportunity.

“In my experience, there isn’t a lot of investing going on in the Hmong community. Many see the only way to grow wealth is by putting money into a savings account. I’d like to help educate the community about ways to invest in smart and strategic ways, so they can be more effective with their money,” Chang said.

As the first to graduate with the Mairs & Power Award on her resume, Chang has set a high bar for future recipients. She passed the first of three CFA exams on her first try, which, according to Business Insider, only happens to 42 percent of test takers. Now preparing for the second exam, Chang will set herself apart from her peers by completing her CFA certification so early in her career. Mark, a CFA himself, knows this will provide further propulsion for her in the job market.

“The CFA is the gold standard for certifications in the investment industry. It takes hundreds of hours to prepare for each of the three exams, so completing the certification sends a very strong signal to potential employers that you’re serious about investments,” he said.

For Chang and the Hennemans, the most meaningful part of the award has been the chance to grow as mentors and mentee.

“I commend Yee for really taking advantage of the mentorship component of the award. I’ve been involved in similar programs in the past and students don’t always show a big interest in being mentored. I have loved discussing Yee’s plans and being helpful where I can,” Mark said.

Mark and Terri even enlisted the help of their daughter Stephanie, an executive recruiter at Ameriprise Financial, when Chang expressed a desire to improve her interview skills.

“I struggled when I first started interviewing and Stephanie’s coaching really increased my confidence. She even helped revise my resume and cover letter. Mark and Terri have gone above and beyond to help me get a strong start professionally,” Chang said.

Wall-StreetThe Hennemans hope that interest in the field continues to grow at Gustavus. They see great potential for students steeped in the liberal arts and nurtured by communities like Gustavus as keys to driving innovation and enriching the investment sector.

“I really value the education I received at Gustavus because I feel it has differentiated me in the investment world and benefited my career greatly,” Mark said. “There are certainly more direct routes into the investment world for those who choose Ivy League schools, but I feel the liberal arts and non-East-Coast vibe has given me an edge.”

Chang is certainly well on her way to charting her own course professionally. She recently accepted a position as a junior financial analyst in the BankValue department of United Bankers Bank and will take the second CFA exam in June 2016.

“I feel blessed to have received the award and to have gotten the chance to build a relationship with the Hennemans,” Chang said. “Their generosity has really inspired me. I look forward to all the ways I’ll be able to give back to the community like they have.”

The Mairs & Power Award for Investment Study was created by Mark ’83 and Terri ’83 Henneman and is named after St. Paul, Minn.-based Mairs & Power, Inc., where Mark serves as president and chief investment officer. The $7,500 award supports Gustavus students interested in pursuing a career in finance and investment, pairs winners with Mark as an alumni mentor, and covers the costs associated with the first exam in the Chartered Financial Analyst series.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


One Comment

  1. Koua Yang says:

    What an inspiring story! Yee, you are a trailblazer and will help others realize their own potential in the financial investment world. Mark and Terri, thank you for giving young, talented students the encouragement and mentoring they will need to find their own career paths.

    -very proud Harding High School teacher