Instrumental Time

Motelson '08, MS ILR '09 attending Reunion
Motelson '08, MS ILR '09 attending Reunion
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The financial world has transformed since Kerry Motelson earned her ILR undergraduate degree in 2008 and an ILR master's of science degree in 2009.

Despite industry-wide turmoil, Motelson landed on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley, working in structured and index products in the commodities division of the Institutional Securities Group.

At Morgan Stanley, she structures commodity-linked products by modeling expected trends off of historical performance, expectations of product prices and market currents. "It is a fascinating line of work."

This weekend, Motelson returns to Cornell for her first Reunion Weekend as an ILR graduate.

Her plan?

"Say hello to as many familiar faces as possible at the school and see what has changed since last May," Motelson said in an interview this week.

It sounds like a skate, compared to recent years of national economic turmoil, particularly for the industry for which she has been preparing since the middle of the decade.

"It certainly was a difficult time for many graduates entering the financial service industry, but I felt well prepared after my tenure both in undergraduate and graduate studies at ILR," she said.

"My time at ILR was instrumental in giving me a platform to launch from, as students are allotted freedom to take many business courses outside of the core curriculum," Motelson said.

"Being a student at Cornell gives you access to all of the top firms -- both on Wall Street and off," she said.

Before joining Morgan Stanley, Motelson interned as an analyst at Lehman Brothers in Retail Investment Banking and High-Grade Credit Sales.

She also worked at Goldman Sachs in the New Products Investment Banking Group before earning her master's degree at ILR in 2009.

Motelson packed four years of undergraduate study into three, then topped it off with a master's degree last May.

This is her second trip to campus since then. (In April, Motelson attended the Entrepreneurship at Cornell celebration and taught a horseback riding clinic at an Ithaca area barn she instructed from while a student at Cornell.)

"I am very excited to attend Reunion this week. Cornell becomes an inextricable part of you after spending four years on campus, and I certainly take pride in continuing to be connected to the university, even after graduation," she said.

"Reunion speakers like Sandy Weill, Tom Peters and presentations such as 'On the Evolution of Hollywood Film' with James Cutting," Motelson said, help "young graduates stay in touch with the happenings of campus while learning from incredibly accomplished alum and professors."

About 200 ILR graduates are registered for Reunion events, which will draw thousands of alums to campus Thursday through Sunday. More information about ILR's Reunion events is available at

On Monday, Motelson will be back at work in New York City, doing what she loves.