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Mark Seasholes: Stocks by day, sculpture by night

Faculty Sketch

Mark Seasholes, professor in the finance department, knew he wanted to join the W. P. Carey family after giving a seminar on campus. “Our family had been moving around a little, and after visiting here, it was like ‘this is it,’” he explains. “The camaraderie and the colleagues here are just top-notch. Plus there are a lot of opportunities to try new directions in teaching and research.”

Despite knowing he wanted to come to ASU, Mark didn’t always know he wanted to be a professor. He started off in industry before returning to get a PhD in economics. After graduation, he figured he would return to industry with his newfound knowledge. Once in grad school, however, he realized “you could do research, and teaching, and industry. You could do it all with the PhD. I really liked doing research. So, it wasn’t a planned-out path for me, but I’m happy I took it.”

Mark thinks that is one of the biggest misconceptions about professors. “My kid, for example, he asks ‘why don’t you teach all day?’ But that is only part of what we do. Part is research, and the point of that is to learn about the world without necessarily having an agenda. Academic research is not done for your company or political organization. Rather, you get to just think about the world and produce free information.” Mark also appreciates his time working closely with students on their research and chances to be a mentor.

Do most people know what finance means?

No, most people don’t know what finance means. I didn’t really know what it meant until I was in my PhD!

People know they have a checkbook and they need a budget, and some are better at savings. Some people who have spent more time with finance might understand they are saving for retirement and their portfolio matters in order to achieve their goals. Sometimes you will get entrepreneurs in MBA programs who need to understand the value of their business and what drives value. So those are all portions of finance, without getting into lending or The Fed(eral Reserve) too deep.

What is your research party trick?

Well, this isn’t as cool as it once was. Back in the late 1990s, I used to predict that the Chinese market was going to really take off before that was a widely held opinion. Now, everyone knows! But I still like to say I knew it was coming.

Have you read any good books lately?

Not related to finance, but I have been really enjoying reading with my kid. We finished the Harry Potter series and the Chronicles of Narnia. The Penderwicks series has been really fun, too.

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

I worked at Lehmann Brothers, and it was just one of those jobs where you work a ton. Fourteen-hour days, seven days a week type of thing. So the hours were brutal, but it was good because I learned so much about the financial industry. Working at a big bank like that gave me a ton of exposure. Later, banking allowed me to live in different places like Warsaw and London.

If you could have any other job, what would you be?

Probably an artist or a sculptor. I love to make things. I even made my own wooden surfboard!

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Maybe teleportation. Have you seen the movie Jumpers? Probably something like that, where I could transport myself anywhere—go surfing in Hawaii during the day and then pop over to Paris or Lyon for dinner.

What’s an interesting fact about your hometown?

I am from Lexington, Massachusetts, and they still do the whole “the British are coming!” re-enactment every year around Patriots’ Day. Someone rides through the town on horseback and then British troops (Redcoats) march down the main street. And it all happens around five in the morning.

Salty or sweet? Salty

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Cat or dog? Dog

Board games or video games? Board games

Book or movie? Book

Mac or PC? PC

Morning person or night owl? Both

Hot or cold? Hot

On time or late? One minute early ;)