Ryan Jackson

Hometown: Libertyville, IL

Alma mater: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Major: Finance

Current Role: Associate Manager Research Analyst (Chicago)

When did you start the MDP program and what was your role? I started in June 2019 on Direct support.

What led you to this current role? I was looking for a role that blended analysis and writing. Plus, I’ve always been interested in investing, so manager research was a perfect fit.

What is a typical day in your current role? My main responsibility is assigning open-end funds and ETFs Morningstar Analyst Ratings, which is a forward-looking assessment of these funds’ investment merit. This involves analyzing the funds’ investment processes and speaking with their management teams. I also contribute to various white papers, our team’s monthly newsletter, ETFInvestor, and write articles that feature on

Did you participate in any stretch projects? Yes – I worked with the equity research department to update stocks’ business descriptions. I also assisted the Video Production team in creating an Excel workbook that allows them to gather relevant stock and mutual fund data more efficiently.

What advice would you give your first-year self? Read as much as possible. Morningstar produces an abundance of interesting content, and MDPs have access to all of it. Constantly absorbing the research that Morningstar produces enhances your knowledge of the investment world and can open your eyes to the aspects of it that you find most fascinating.

How was it like starting your MDP role in a virtual setting? Starting my manager research role from home was surprisingly seamless. It was a little odd not being able to physically tap someone on the shoulder and ask for help, but my team was (is) very patient with my flood of e-mails and Teams messages. That said, I’m definitely looking forward to returning to 22 W. Washington and seeing the other MDPs in my class.

How has Morningstar helped you in this pandemic? Morningstar has done a great job ensuring that all of its employees are comfortable working from home and adapting to the change smoothly. Early on, the company helped me secure all of the gear I would need. Now, we receive short surveys every two weeks where we can share any WFH challenges so Morningstar can help us address them. I’ve always been confident that if I have any pandemic-related concerns, Morningstar will help me feel comfortable.

One piece of WFH advice? Step away from the desk. I eat lunch in a different room every day so I don’t feel trapped in a small space, and I think that’s helped me break up my day.

Julie Bhusal Sharma

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Alma Mater: Kenyon College

Major: Philosophy

Current Role: Associate Equity Analyst – Technology Sector (Chicago)

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

I started in January 2017 as a Client Service Consultant for Morningstar Office Support. 

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

I am currently an Associate Equity Analyst for the Technology Sector. What led me to my current role as an associate was my background in tech. Before joining Morningstar, I was in tech and business journalism, so this content knowledge really helped me get on my current team. By supporting Office afterwards, I was able to pick up financial concepts that made the learning curve easier when I started as an associate. 

What is a typical day in your current role? 

My typical day includes attending meetings in which my colleagues and I discuss the competitive advantages of various tech companies, from Apple to Zscaler. In between these meetings, I have to stay on top of the tech companies I cover, like Red Hat or Shopify. This means reading the latest tech news and industry reports and constantly updating my thesis on that tech company accordingly, as well as the company’s discounted cash flow model – which we use to come to a fair value estimate of the stock. I also coauthor various special reports with analysts on my team. We’ve started to collaborate with Pitchbook on valuing private companies pre-IPO. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on such projects for Uber and Lyft, which has been a lot of fun. It’s gratifying getting to know the rideshare industry so deeply – as there are many complexities in the business model to the technology that need to be understood in order to assess players’ competitive advantages in the industry or the total addressable market. 

Did you participate in any stretch projects or ERGs? 

I created my own stretch projects with the Editorial and Communications teams, where I wrote articles for and The Pond (our internal website). I’m also in the French club. We meet once a month over lunch – c’est magnifique! I really want to join the tabletoppers boardgame club because I’m a boardgame geek. 

What advice would you give your first-year self? 

I would advise to not stress that you don’t have all the tools to make it to the next role you want. I was concerned about this since I didn’t have a formal finance background, but fortunately my team was very willing to put in the time to train me on everything from equity valuation to economics overviews. What really stands out in getting your next role is your critical thinking skills and passion for what the job entails. 

What is your favorite place in Chicago? 

It’s a tie between the lawn outside the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond in Lincoln Park. The museum hosts “Tuesdays on the Terrace” on their lawn in the summer. It’s a great spot to soak in live music, picnic, and people watch. The lily pond is a really peaceful hidden spot. While I love living in a big city, it’s great to still get a nature fix.