William and Mary School of Business

Merging IT and Finance for IBM

  • From IT to business
    From IT to business
    “I was a more creative thinker than the average computer science student,” says Nate Fishler M.B.A. ’10.

It didn’t take Nate Fishler M.B.A. ’10 long to realize that he is a big-picture thinker. Now only a couple years after graduation, he has already parlayed his skill for finding out-of-the-box solutions into great success.

“I learned early on that I am an idea guy,” says Fishler, a 2006 graduate of Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYUH) with a degree in computer science. “I was a more creative thinker than the average computer science student.”

While in college, Fishler and several friends launched Phovion Technologies, a digital asset management company for professional photographers.

“As professionals began to transition to digital photography, we saw an opportunity to help photographers streamline their workflow,” says Fishler. “I had not taken a single business class in college and ultimately, our company was edged out of the market by another firm.”

Through this entrepreneurial experience, Fishler became interested in learning more about business and finance. He began to explore MBA programs.

“The mathematical building blocks of computer science and finance are one and the same,” says Fishler. “If I showed an aptitude for programming, then perhaps I would excel at finance.”

Fishler applied to William & Mary upon the recommendation of a BYUH professor.

“It had everything I was looking for in a program,” says Fishler. “A good student to faculty ratio, a personal touch, and most importantly, a highly international program.”

Fishler enrolled in the Dual Degree Program to earn an MBA from Mason and a Master of Global Management degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. Through school-sponsored trips to India and Nairobi, Fishler gained hands-on experience dealing with different cultures in business.

“The trips abroad gave me a well-rounded perspective on something real — multicultural corporate finance,” says Fishler. “The experience broadened my horizons.”

Before graduation, Fishler accepted a position at IBM’s headquarters in New York. His skills and education were quickly put to the test when he was charged with fixing a major distribution issue with IBM’s internal information technology budget.

“It was a daunting task,” says Fishler. “Most finance people don’t know computer science and most computer science people don’t know finance. I was able to bridge that gap. The process was bloated and inefficient. I came up with a replacement process which essentially built a financial model into a computer model. Now one person can do a job that used to require many. ”

In a recent email, Jon Birdsall, Controller for IBM Worldwide IT, wrote “Nate's work on bringing together the worldwide IT forecasts and dramatically enhancing our plan model will leave a lasting mark on the CIO Finance organization.”

With success under his belt, Fishler was promoted to Senior Financial Analyst in IBM’s Treasury Office.

“I never would have gotten this job without two things,” says Fishler. “One, my ability to work hard, set goals, and achieve them. And two, my education which has truly opened doors for me. I have recommended Mason’s MBA program to several people.  If I really believe in something, I let it be known, and I definitely feel that way about William & Mary.”