A Toronto native, Arianne Flemming (MFin ’14) completed her undergraduate education at McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Economics. Aiming to dive deeper into the field of finance, specifically, Flemming began searching for top Master in Finance programs. In 2012, she began the Master in Finance program at Princeton’s Bendheim Center for Finance.
Wanting to gain experience on Wall Street, Flemming completed her internship at Credit Suisse during the MFin program. After graduating from Princeton in 2014, she leveraged her operational skills to move into the technology side of the financial world at Creative Destruction Lab, working as the Associate Director of Machine Learning Ventures. Over six years ago, Flemming began working in the blockchain industry. Her experience during that time includes roles as the VP of Finance at Tendermint and the Managing Director of Interchain Foundation. Currently, Flemming is the COO of Informal Systems.
Lindsay Bracken, BCF’s Manager of Career Development, Alumni Relations, and Corporate Affiliates, recently reached out to Flemming for her insight as she looks back on the program and its impact on her career nearly ten years after graduating.
If you’re a Princeton BCF alumnus who’s reached a milestone in your career, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to Bracken (email@example.com) to stay in touch and tell your story.
Bracken: After graduating with your bachelor’s degree in economics, what led you to pursue a Master in Finance degree? How did you choose Princeton?
Flemming: I knew I wanted to study more after undergrad. Economics was a broad degree, and I wanted to explore education that could be more applicable in the market. I was considering a number of top-tier programs in both the US and the UK, but ultimately, Princeton had an amazing program in close proximity to NYC and my hometown of Toronto!
Bracken: Has your network impacted your career opportunities? How important do you think building connections is to career growth? And did the Princeton alumni network contribute in a meaningful way?
Flemming: Compared to my other classmates in the Princeton MF, my career has been pretty non-linear and serendipitous. I sort of fell into the blockchain industry by accident through connections. When I first met the people in the industry, I loved how passionate and idealistic they were, wanting to do something bigger than themselves, which felt fun and refreshing. Working with individuals like this has kept me in the industry ever since.
My experiences at Princeton ultimately led me to explore new things, which were invaluable and led me to where I am today. The alumni network has been extremely open and supportive and has created a tight-knit community that fosters connection.
Bracken: Thinking back on your time in the Master in Finance program, were there specific courses or professors that either affirmed or altered your goals?
Flemming: Absolutely. My favorite courses included:
Bracken: Can you share more about your current role as the COO of Informal Systems and how you built a career in the blockchain industry?
Flemming: I started working in the blockchain industry in the early days of 2018 before it had gained a lot of mainstream attention. I was working at a startup in a finance role; the company was working to build the Cosmos Network, which is now widely considered a leading ecosystem at the forefront of blockchain innovation. The coolest part is being part of the growth story from nothing more than an idea to a multi-billion dollar network with so much adoption and engagement; it’s quite special.
I started Informal Systems in 2020 with two of my long-time colleagues; it has grown to around 70 people now. We work as core developers in the Cosmos Ecosystem. We also have a security auditing business and are now launching a new product focusing on connecting Cosmos technology to the real world by working with fintech companies and creating credit-clearing and liquidity injection systems. My role at Informal is at the intersection of people, business, and computers. My finance background has proven invaluable and relevant in running a business in this industry.
Bracken: What advice would you give students in the Master in Finance program today?
Flemming: Enjoy your time, make the most of the classes and the learning opportunities professors can provide in and outside the classroom, and leverage the networking opportunities to meet new people. The classes and education are amazing, and the network you can build will be invaluable. Something I would do differently if I could go back: stay in the dorms instead of grad school apartments my first year—it’s easier to socialize with your classmates that way!