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Mark Kolakowski

Mark Kolakowski

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Mark Kolakowski has an extensive background in finance, including a long multidisciplinary career on Wall Street. He has covered financial careers for About.com since 2008.


During his 14 years at Merrill Lynch, Mark was a major contributor in many areas, notably profitability analysis, transfer pricing, business forecasting, product pricing, sales compensation, market research, data mining and business strategy. Prior to Merrill Lynch, he developed a comprehensive sales forecasting system for AT&T, before moving into project analysis. Then he became a management consultant at Touche Ross (since merged into Deloitte), whose engagements included merger analysis, bank operations and mutual funds accounting. He has been self-employed since 2001, including a stint as a consultant to JPMorgan Chase. In Career Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Business (2008) Mark draws case studies in career management from his own experiences.


Mark earned an AB magna cum laude in economics from Harvard College and an MBA in finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While at Merrill Lynch, he passed the NASD (now FINRA) Series 7 Registered Securities Representative exam.

By Mark Kolakowski:

Despite recent troubles, the financial services industry remains a magnet for ambitious and hard-working people. Dynamic work environments. Big rewards for performance and creativity. Opportunities to advance swiftly. Chances to gain personal financial independence. My years on Wall Street made possible my second career as an independent consultant and writer.

Meanwhile, all industries, as well as non-profit and governmental organizations, need financial expertise in areas such as accounting, management reporting, planning, budgeting and treasury. Consulting and public accounting firms also are leading employers of top financial talent. In tough economic times, the financial function is more critical than ever.

The duties of financial professionals often cross over into other disciplines, such as information technology, management science, marketing and human resources. During my years at Merrill Lynch, for example, controllers typically served as the chiefs of staffs and chief administrative officers for their department heads, as well as point persons for systems liaison and quantitative analysis. Accordingly, this guidesite takes a broad perspective, and encourages outside-the-box thinking regarding career development.

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