Elizabeth Strickler’s Innovation Studio courses are supposed to make students uncomfortable. Ross Cado, a self-described introvert currently enrolled in Robinson’s Graduate Certificate in Fintech Innovation, finds the class particularly daunting.
“Professor Strickler really knows how to put us under stress during rapid-fire brainstorming sessions,” Cado said. “On top of that, she’s helped us develop the empathy it takes to build a product for customers based on their needs.”
Cado admits having trouble staying on top of the minutiae of daily life, especially chores. In the Innovation Studio, he is building the prototype for an app where users can join a community, keep each other accountable, and rack up points to be redeemed for gift cards.
“Through my employer, I use a health navigation platform called Castlight, which motivates healthy habits. I can cash in my rewards to pay my power bill or order a pizza,” Cado said. “It would be nice to apply the same concept toward accomplishing goals that promote day-to-day livelihood.”
Cado also is taking Blockchain and Business Disruption. For a group project, he and his classmates explored how blockchain can improve the mobile voting experience. During the 2018 midterm election, the state of West Virginia allowed active military members or residents living abroad to cast ballots from their phones with the Voatz app. The FBI ended up investigating possible hacker activity within the app. Blockchain technology would make mobile voting more secure.
“The thing about blockchain is it’s immutable,” he said. “Once a vote is there, it’s there. It goes into a running ledger that can’t be changed.”
As part of another assignment, Cado looked into how blockchain can streamline supply chains. If blockchain technology were used to keep track of a firm’s inventory, banks could offer loans based on indisputable facts instead of striking deals over arbitrary numbers.
Cado currently works as a legal billing coordinator at Warner Media, and wants to transition into a financial analyst role. He sees the graduate certificate as a logical way to build more hands-on skills, and likely will apply the credits toward an M.S. in Finance or MBA at Robinson.
“I can dip my toe back in the water of academia and earn a credential that isn’t too hefty of an investment,” he said. “And since Atlanta is a hub for financial technology, the certificate will help me advance my career here in town.”