Isaly Flores started her career in finance with the Barri Financial Group, headquartered in Houston, Texas, providing non-banking financial services to the Hispanic population. She worked her way up from sales associate to treasury department lead in five years, then attended the University of Houston to pursue her bachelor’s. She studied Communications, interning with the college’s newspaper and Spanish-language TV network Telemundo, and found that the media industry was not for her.
“I realized that there are other careers that fit more with my skills – and compliance was one of them,” she said. “I am an analytical person, I like to write, and have high attention to detail – all skills that a compliance professional should have.”
With her finance experience, Flores was offered a job by insurance company American National, headquartered in Galveston, Texas, where she was a case manager for annuities new business in New York state. She then moved to Houston-based international specialty insurance company Tokio Marine HCC as a regulatory and corporate compliance analyst. “I find this field fascinating,” Flores said. “It’s very dynamic because regulations and laws are always evolving; there is something new to learn every day.”
She decided to continue her formal education.
“Coming from a communications background, I wanted to better understand some of the concepts around compliance and Enterprise Risk Management,” Flores said. “I did a lot of research and not many universities offer degrees in Compliance. Albany Law School, unlike any other graduate school, provided the opportunity to obtain a Certificate in Compliance before enrolling in a master’s program.”
Albany Law stood out also because it offers the certificate program online and the credits count toward a master’s degree. “I knew it was going to be challenging going back to school, so I wanted to take a couple of classes to see if law school would be a good fit for me.”
Balancing the program with full-time work and home responsibilities wasn’t easy, but her classes were similar in format and the consistency was helpful. “I used weekdays to read the materials, get familiar with the topics, and participate in discussion, and weekends to work on the weekly projects,” she said.
Professor Joseph Suich in particular made an impact. “Every time he graded a project, he added comments pointing out areas that needed to be improved, made recommendations, provided examples of what was expected and let us know when a project was done right,” she said. That type of feedback really makes a difference to students.”
Flores found the Compliance Officer, Risk Management and Compliance class especially valuable. “We had real life scenarios such as writing compliance policies and mock presenting to a board of directors (our professors),” she said. “Most of the discussions involved scenarios that occur in compliance departments; students had to act as chief compliance officers and handle those scenarios to the best of our ability.”
Now, Flores says, “I feel a lot more confident about making the commitment to a master’s program. “The certificate provided that confidence I needed.”
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