Podcast: Down to Business, Alumni News
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Episode 102 – Jennifer Barker, MBA ’01, Global Head of Treasury Services at BNY Mellon

On this episode of the Down to Business podcast, host Sharon F. Matusik, Edward J. Frey Dean of the Ross School of Business, is joined by Jennifer Barker, MBA ’01, to discuss what attracted her to Michigan Ross, the most impactful lessons she learned on campus, her post-Ross career in the financial and treasury services world, and her journey to global head of treasury services at BNY Mellon.

In the first part of the conversation, Barker explores her time as a Ross MBA student. She reflects on her decision to choose Ross, attributing the choice to the institution's strong academics and sense of community. Ross boasted a high ranking, excellence across various functional areas, and an inclusive atmosphere, particularly for women.

“I really wanted a place with a feeling of community and camaraderie, not a place where one person’s success was at the cost of another,” said Barker. “To me, this is a huge standout for Ross. It was also ranked as one of the best business schools for women, so I knew I’d be in a place that would support everyone's success.”

Once on campus, Barker found that the academic offerings and resources were the most rewarding part of her experience. Particularly the flexible curriculum, which allowed her to attend courses from different departments and schools at U-M. In addition to her curricular exploration, Barker highlighted the quality of her peers and professors and the culture of looking toward the future and impactful collaboration. 

On the topic of her own experiences at Ross, Barker answered questions from two first-year BBA students, Rosey Ma, BBA ’27, and Aleena Malik, BBA ’27. Ma and Malik both participate in the The Och Initiative for Women in Finance. In response to their questions about her time as a student and an organizational leader, Barker affirmed that Ross substantially contributed to her competence as a general manager. She shared that the lessons she learned at Ross are crucial for navigating through various disciplines and interacting with diverse company levels, from CEOs to various departmental teams. 

“No question, Ross made me a better general manager. In business, you have to be able to speak in-depth across many disciplines and across all levels of the company from the CEO on down,” shared Barker. “You have to be ambidextrous in business, and Ross definitely helped me with that.”

In the second part of the episode, Barker discussed her career as a Ross grad, particularly her path to becoming a leader of a treasury services business. A key theme of her career has been the willingness to embrace challenges and seek opportunities to learn. Barker shared that significant career decisions, such as transitioning from consulting to banking or moving to Singapore for a new role, yielded both personal and professional rewards.

Looking ahead, Barker is excited about the rapid evolution in the treasury services sector, especially burgeoning sectors like fintech, innovation in payment services, client experience, and using technology to scale. In this exciting new landscape, she hopes to find inventive ways to stay competitive and meet changing client needs. Barker credits some of her excitement and aptitude to take on new challenges for organizational leadership to Ross’ dedication to producing well-rounded, team-oriented graduates.

“Ross has an environment where you need to be a good team player and a good partner. It’s expected in group project work or even things like club participation. As a hiring manager, this is non-negotiable in terms of being a well-rounded graduate. Academically, graduating from Ross means you have a well-rounded education, and you’ve learned in a multi-disciplinary environment and you have real hands-on experience.” 

To close the episode, Barker discussed her work as a member of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Women’s Roundtable and gave some advice for women who are looking to create their own paths to organizational leadership. To achieve their goals, Barker recommends a few keys to success: know the details of your business, keep learning, be decisive, take risks, ask for what you want, take care of yourself, and finally – be brave!  

 Want to hear more from Ross students, faculty, and alumni? 
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About the participants

  • Host: Sharon Matusik
  • Producer:  JT Godfrey and Tedra White
  • Guest:  Jennifer Barker
  • Audio Engineer: Jonah Brockman