Flexing economic muscle

UGA partners with financial technology companies in Georgia

Matt Weeks | Jul. 26, 2018

Georgia MBA students at FinTech Atlanta
Georgia MBA instructors and students meet with members of Global Payments at FinTech Atlanta.

A partnership between the University of Georgia and financial technology companies in Atlanta is boosting a booming sector in the region and priming Georgia MBA graduates for high-demand jobs.

Through a new program for students with a FinTech emphasis, 10 Terry College of Business MBA candidates partnered with the industry group FinTech Atlanta to apply their expertise to real-world projects from member companies.

The students spent four months working on two projects for FinTech company Global Payments under the guidance of faculty mentors and professional collaborators. The partnership was both educational and profitable, said Christopher Justice, president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, a division of Global Payments.

“I couldn’t be happier with the results we achieved,” Justice said. “Several of our executives worked closely with the team and found the students to be creative, passionate problem solvers. Over the course of the semester, the two projects took on a life of their own. It’s clear these students provided a unique perspective we were otherwise missing. Because of these projects, Global has improved its product set while increasing the value of the overall sales pipeline. We’re excited about partnering with UGA on future projects.”

The FinTech sector focuses on the use of technology to facilitate everyday financial transactions. More than 100 FinTech companies are based in Atlanta and together process 70 percent of all credit, debit and prepaid card transactions in the United States.

The unique program allows companies and students alike to reap substantial benefits and make new connections, said Richard Watson, a faculty advisor for the MBA project and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy at the Terry College.

“The partnership is an important development because the FinTech sector in Atlanta and in all of Georgia is growing and needs to attract talent, and we want to challenge our students with experiential learning projects in world-class companies,” he said. “Many companies don’t have the spare capacity to undertake many of the projects on their should-do list. MBA students are a way to tackle those projects that fit their capabilities, can be completed in a semester and provide a level of experiential learning that enhances their business skills and knowledge. The quality of Georgia MBA students makes it very feasible to create many win-win projects for FinTech companies across our state.”

The inaugural projects came about through a grant the University System of Georgia received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bolster postsecondary educational programs that funnel students toward high-demand careers.

“We were thankful to be approached by the University System to develop this project, which fit perfectly with the forward-looking curriculum we developed for the FinTech area of emphasis,” said Santanu Chatterjee, director of the Full-time MBA and MS Business Analytics programs and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professor of Economics. “The quick success of the two MBA projects facilitated through the FinTech Atlanta movement has had a valuable payoff for our students and Global Payments. Our plan is to continue to drive forward this partnership with Georgia’s FinTech community.”

The FinTech area of emphasis includes 12 hours of relevant coursework culminating in a FinTech project with a corporate partner. The curriculum is designed to teach students the latest trends and topics in business process management, cyber threat intelligence and legal issues in the financial services industry.

For more information, visit terry.uga.edu/mba/fulltime and fintechatlanta.org.


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