big.bright.minds 2013 Follow Up

Posted: Wednesday, October 30th 2013 at 1:41 PM

In September 2013 (story HERE), two FCB students were nominated to attend a conference which they had never heard of that ended up being a great learning experience. Arve Hammeren, senior finance and accounting major, and Hunter Johnson, junior economics major, went to Princeton, New Jersey to attend the Filene Research Institute’s big.bright.minds conference. The conference, a masterclass on behavioral economics with over 100 credit union executives in attendance, ran from Monday, September 30 to Wednesday, October 2, 2013.

Mark Meyer ('90 MGT), CEO of the Filene Research Institute and an NAU alum, invited the school to send these students, the only two students in attendance. As successful as Meyer is, “he’s really down to earth and nice and friendly, and he wants to give back to the college,” said Hammeren.

The conference was hosted by Eldar Shafir, a cognitive psychology professor at Princeton University, and held at the Nassau Inn where Hammeren and Johnson had the opportunity not only to participate in the masterclass but also to network with the professionals.

“We went to lunch with executives as well as dinner after the class. We were able to talk casually,” Hammeren said. “I have a lot of contacts now [in Arizona] that are indirect through the contacts I made at the event.”

“I certainly had the opportunity to make some new connections, and the people there were very friendly, especially to Arve and I because we were the only students,” Johnson said.

The masterclass consisted of lectures from several speakers such as President Obama’s financial advisor, the Chief Reporter of the English Prime Minister, and a presentation from ideas42.

“Ideas42 does behavioral economics research. They would talk to us about certain things like problems people have making choices and then we would form into groups to do an activity trying to think of ways the credit unions might be able to use this new information to solve their own problems,” Johnson explained.

“In my group, I had four CEOs, one CFO, one managing director, and I, so that was a really great experience,” Hammeren said. “Everyone pitched in and tried to contribute as much as they could. I wasn’t able to contribute at the level they were because I don’t have that experience, but still understood what they were talking about so they were able to bounce ideas off of me, and I was able to contribute in that way.”

The conference opened doors for Hammeren and Johnson who were each thankful to have had this opportunity presented to them.

“Behavioral economics was something that was vaguely familiar to me,” Johnson said. “As an economics major, I knew that it existed, but NAU doesn’t have a behavioral economics program so [the masterclass] was really fascinating. It was a great opportunity to learn about its different applications, and what it’s really about... It did sort of change my direction for the future, perhaps to consider grad school. It’s definitely given me a new interest in behavioral economics.”

“I felt like I really grew a lot from this experience,” Hammeren said. “I’m really thankful to NAU, and if I end up in a position where I am successful like Mr. Meyer, then I would be so happy and privileged to give back to the college in the future.”

Meyer plans to invite NAU students to next year's conference as well. Students will be chosen by faculty nomination again.

Categories: fall 2013 students princeton university arve hammeren hunter johnson filene research institute ideas42 eldar shafir behavioral economics economics finance accounting alumni mark meyer networking big.bright.minds conference