Ferrer has hit the ground running as an Evening Master’s Program student, with a goal of starting a nonprofit trade school for software coding.
Erick Ferrer, Headshot
Erick Ferrer

As a first generation undergraduate at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Erick Ferrer was a cofounder of the National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC), a case competition focused on diversity and inclusion. Now, as an Evening Master’s Program (EMP) student at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Ferrer is looking to form a team with some of his fellow cohort members to launch a nonprofit tech trade school.

“I want to start a trade school for software coding, creating a platform to prepare bright students from Chicago Public Schools for Silicon Valley.”

Ferrer has spent the past six years in finance, launching his career with General Electric’s (GE) Financial Management Program (FMP). During his first rotation in the program, Ferrer worked as a finance analyst for GE Ventures. “That role felt like being the CFO of a startup: paying invoices, booking journal entries, and managing finances. I’m sitting there at age 23 like, ‘who decided this was a great idea?’ It was drinking directly from the fire hose.”

In his second rotation, Ferrer joined the corporate auditing team at GE, managing a travel budget of $30 million. In his third rotation, he worked with a newly formed Global Markets team under the GE Energy Financial Services umbrella, tracking global energy projects. His final rotation took him to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he was reporting on revenue and orders to the CFO for GE Latin America.

Off program, Ferrer worked as a project finance analyst for GE Mexico. He helped the local team submit proposals for long-term sustainability projects for the government of Mexico. “This is where I realized my passion for making a social impact. Mexico was just getting into renewable energy, and when they signed the Paris Climate Agreement, they began to set realistic goals of putting clean energy on the grid. It was perfect timing—when I joined the team, Mexico was having clean energy auctions, and anyone who wanted to work in green energy wanted to be there. I felt like I was moving the needle every day.”

Although Ferrer’s position was eventually eliminated, a former colleague connected him with an opportunity at Kaufman Hall in Chicago, where he currently works as a senior finance analyst supporting the software organization now known as Syntellis Performance Solutions.

His idea to start a trade school brought him to Harris. “Traditionally people with an undergraduate degree in business will pursue an MBA, but I wanted to open doors to make a deeper impact. Though, incidentally, getting into UChicago did help me build the case for my recent promotion at Kaufman Hall.”

At an admitted student reception, Ferrer asked an individual on a student panel, “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?”

The student’s response was, “Take advantage of all the resources available to you while you are still a student. It goes by quickly, so you have to be ready to hit the ground running.”

 “So that’s what I’m doing. My career coach at Harris encouraged me to get started now, despite these unusual circumstances. I’m interested in leveraging all the resources UChicago has to offer.”  With the goal of starting a 501c and establishing a team by next June, Ferrer has already begun networking with his cohort to find subject matter experts. “I’m not a coder— it’s not really my forte—but it doesn’t have to be: that’s what teamwork is for.”