Tag Archives: Mary Kay Kosnik

From Finance to Teaching Math: An Interview with Mary Kay Kosnik

What do you enjoy about your role at Hamlin? 

I’m currently teaching 6th grade math at Hamlin.  I have a dream job — I get to learn and help students!  Teaching in the middle school is pure magic. I witness great thinking, creativity, growth and joyful collaboration every day.   My students and colleagues are rock stars! The thread of excellence that permeates through Hamlin is what drew me into this diverse, dynamic and soulful community.   Everything that happens at Hamlin is aligned with best practices and continuously scrutinized for improvement.

Tell us about your career before Hamlin. What did you most like about that work?

My professional background is in analytics, research and consulting to the financial services industry.  I began my career at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and later worked on Wall Street as a buy-side equity analyst.  For the bulk of my professional career I worked as a management consultant for KPMG Peat Marwick’s National Financial Services Consulting Group. All of these jobs had a steep learning curve, were entrepreneurial and enabled me to collaborate with very talented people. In consulting I traveled extensively and worked on really unique and exciting high impact projects.

How did you make the decision to go into teaching?

I consider myself a life-long learner and have always been passionate about stepping into service to support students.  While I was working professionally and raising a family (my husband and I have three grown children), I taught and volunteered in classrooms, tutored, and coached and managed youth sports.  I also collaborated on fundraising projects to improve schools and provide scholarships. In higher education, I serve on the Dean’s Council at my alma mater, the University of Michigan. I also mentor undergraduates.  

So I guess I would say that becoming a teacher was a natural progression of my lifelong interest in helping students. I knew that becoming a teacher would be challenging and deeply meaningful work.  As an educator, my goal is to inspire girls to enjoy math and to develop their competence and confidence as mathematicians. We need more women in STEM fields!

What advice to you have for women who would like to work in finance?

Study math, always apply your analytical skills, be bold and decisive, and expect to become the boss!

Finance is creative and fun — every organization needs competent people who can generate, analyze and understand the numbers that ultimately drive decision making and the business.

How does learning math relate to understanding “real world” finance?

I think there is a big misconception that the goal in math is to learn an algorithm to achieve a “correct” answer.  Sure we need this competency, but math is so much more than that! In math we question, explore, investigate, analyze, collaborate, strategize, build, explain, and problem solve in diverse and creative ways.   “Real world” finance is all of this, whether you are managing your allowance, your household or your company.