Credit Ratings

Olivia Mandell

Hometown: Glencoe, IL

Alma Mater: University of Michigan

Major: History and International Studies

Current Role: Credit Ratings Analyst (New York)

When did you start the MDP program and what was your role?

I started the MDP program in July 2018 as a Client Support Representative on the Enterprise Support Team.

What was your next position? What led you to this role?

My next and current role is a Credit Ratings Analyst in the New York office. I have always been interested in neighborhoods and people, and wanted to use this interest to back my work with commercial real estate valuation and underwriting.

What is a typical day in your current role?

I currently work on the commercial real estate team. My days consist of analytical underwriting (estimating the value of a property) and using this information to create write ups on these properties. These analyses are used for bonds backed by commercial real estate properties. Another important component of my role is traveling to sites to look at the real estate properties.

Did you participate in any stretch projects or ERGs?

Yes – I worked with the product disclosures team helping them with data mining and analysis.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

I would advise my first-year self to reach out to people on the CMBS team and get coffee chats with as many people as possible to see what they like and don’t like about their roles. Gaining experience through stretch projects can also help you decide what you want/don’t want to work on!

What is your favorite aspect of New York?

I love New York because of the constant energy and the huge fashion and restaurant scene. My favorite area to explore is the East Village because of the music and art scene.

Tess Hannum

Hometown: St. Louis

Alma mater: Tulane University

Major: Finance

Current Role: Credit Analyst (Chicago)

When did you start the MDP program and what was your role?

I started the MDP program in June 2019 on the Direct Support team.

What led you to this current role?

I was interested in using my professional background in financial services and my finance degree in my next rotation in the MDP program. Morningstar acquired DBRS the same month I started so I did not know a lot about that part of the business before starting. An analyst role opened up and after learning more through the application and interview process I knew that was the next step I wanted to take in my career.

What is a typical day in your current role?

A typical day is usually juggling different analyst tasks for the deals my team is working on. That can include working on net cash flows for specific loans (backed by commercial properties) in a given deal, writing sections to be published in a presale, performing administrative tasks to keep deals moving along and communicating with different members of the CMBS team.

Did you participate in any stretch projects?

I completed a stretch project with Cloud Software focused on researching the client-advisor relationships in a handful of European countries. I researched those relationships as well as current financial technology software being used in those countries. The project was very engaging and helped me learn more about Morningstar’s software business lines and how we see ourselves in the market. I would highly recommend MDPs take advantage of stretch projects.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

I think I would encourage my first-year self to not focus so much on the next rotation and enjoy the process of learning more about Morningstar and the possible career moves available. It is important to keep your career goals in mind but the MDP program also allows you to learn a ton about Morningstar and get to know the other MDPs on your team very well which has been one of the best parts of the program, in my opinion.

How was it like starting your MDP role in a virtual setting?

Starting my current role in a virtual setting was difficult. I think asking questions of other analysts is a bit harder virtually as you have to set up a Zoom call instead of just walking over to someone’s desk. However, everyone was very gracious with their time when I started which made it a bit easier.

How has Morningstar helped you in this pandemic?

I think Morningstar’s focus on bringing in experts to speak about COVID-19 and the vaccines available has helped me understand where we are in the pandemic and helped cut through some of the noise and various opinions out there. Morningstar has provided lots of resources both internally and externally through our research and articles that have been great to read. The frequent check-ins by senior leadership have helped me feel less in the dark during a confusing time.

One piece of WFH advice?

I think making sure you try to schedule some of those informal meetings with colleagues. Whether that is a happy hour with your team or a quick coffee chat catch-up, staying connected to friends and colleagues will make your day more bright and will make you feel more connected.