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Catchin' Up With...Chris Bridner

Chris Bridner
Chris Bridner

I came to Salisbury in 2006 with plans to major in accounting. After taking two intro level accounting courses (and in my defense, doing well in these courses), I decided that accounting was not for me. Having a background in finance due to investing I had done to help pay for my schooling, I selected a finance focus and immediately found it to be a perfect fit. After settling on finance, I began to get more actively involved in Perdue School groups and clubs, something I wish I had done much earlier. I eventually became the president of FMA, co-founded the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), tutored students in finance courses, had a paper on real estate investment selected to be presented at a student research conference, and helped design the Perdue family museum that's now located in the Perdue School. As I was approaching graduation in 2010, I had several options of where I would like to work, but I ultimately went with Fannie Mae. Fun fact, I actually accepted my offer from Fannie, graduated from Salisbury and proposed to my then girlfriend (now wife) Maddy all in less than four weeks. Talk about life events!

Fannie Mae appealed to me for two main reasons. First, I didn't want to go into a sales-oriented role and, second, they offered a rotational program that would allow me to experience different departments within the company before deciding where I would like to permanently work. Over the next 18 months, I rotated through different groups including Securities Accounting, Financial Systems and Services, and Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A), before ultimately arriving in the place I was meant to be, Capital Markets Pricing. Since summer 2012, I have been responsible for mark-to-market valuations of our ~$2.5 trillion fixed rate, mortgage-backed Securities (MBS) portfolio. What this means in simple terms is I'm responsible for assigning monthly values to a portfolio of bonds. I use the lessons on duration, swaps, fixed-rate valuation, convexity, etc. that I learned from Dr. Arvi, Dr. Ervin, Dr. Khazeh and Dr. Claggett on a daily basis, when young, naive me thought I wouldn't use them again after graduating.

I am proud of being from Salisbury, and I wanted to continue to give back as I progressed in my career. I had the opportunity to participate in the recruiting and interview process at Fannie Mae, and we have increased the number of SU alumni at Fannie Mae from three when I started in 2011, to over 20 today. I've returned to speak to multiple Perdue School clubs including Beta Alpha Psi and FMA. I recently returned to SU to speak on a board of accounting and finance professionals to current students, something I thoroughly enjoyed. In the fall 2014, I was asked to join the Perdue School of Business Career Advisory Board (CAB). I began my term at the beginning of 2015 and look forward to enriching the experience of students and hope to be able to provide them with information and advice that will help them excel in their careers after they leave Salisbury.

Outside of work, I spend most of my time as a volunteer leader for a veterans organization called Team Red, White and Blue (Team RWB). I have no military background, but I am a big supporter of our troops and decided after graduating that I could start doing more than simply telling someone "thank you for your service." Team RWB focuses on enriching the lives of veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity. We have over 65,000 nationwide members, with some 3,000 in the D.C. area, where I reside. I currently serve as athletic director, where I help veterans and civilians alike get active and make genuine, new relationships in their community through over 70 monthly physical, social and volunteer events. Team RWB has helped me accomplish new things physically, has introduced me to some of the most amazing people (both veteran and civilian) I have ever met, and I even got the opportunity to have my story of joining Team RWB written about in a book called For Love Of Country by Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks. I encourage you to read the book (not because I'm in it, I don't belong in the pages amongst these American heroes, I'm only a few pages in the epilogue) and check out to find out ways that you can get involved in the lives of veterans. While our slogan says we're enriching veterans lives, they have DEFINITELY enriched mine!

I would encourage all students regardless of major to not let your education and growth stop once you graduate. This doesn't have to mean you have to get a CPA, CFA or a master's (I've done none of these), this can include reading books, self-improvement, breaking out of your comfort zone, seeking out mentors in your career and when the times comes, mentoring someone else. I love the saying that "Complacency Kills Progress," so I always feel that I can keep growing, learning, and improving, no matter where life takes me.

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