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Employee Spotlight

Investing in Relationships

Twenty years ago as a student, Ian Wright made connections with people that changed the course of his life. For Wright, now the finance program director and an assistant professor in the BYU Marriott School of Business, these mentors helped him find career and life success and modeled the encouragement he now gives to his own students to be “awesome in everything they do.”

A husband and wife standing in front of the London Bridge with their four young children.
Wright and his family lived in London for six years before they moved back to Provo.
Photo courtesy of Ian Wright.

Although Wright had started out studying math on the pre-med track at BYU, after his church mission in Washington, DC, he found a new passion for economics. “I took Econ 110 for my social sciences general elective, and after three weeks, I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life,” Wright shares. He decided to double major in math and economics.

Wright soon realized the mentors he worked with were just as important as what he was learning. One of his mentors was his math professor David Wright, while not related, they shared more than just their last name. The professor understood Wright’s unique skillset and encouraged him to apply to be a research assistant at BYU Marriott. He applied and got a position assisting Keith Vorkink, who was a BYU Marriott finance professor at the time and now serves as the university’s advancement vice president.

The mentoring he received from Vorkink and David Wright helped him realize that “surrounding yourself with really strong, altruistic people can positively influence you on the path to figuring out your life.” These relationships exposed Wright to new future possibilities and inspired him to pursue a PhD in financial economics.

As a PhD candidate in economics at Stanford University, Wright realized he loved interacting with people through teaching, working with data, and getting the main, actionable result as he did research. This propelled him to pursue work in the private sector after he finished his PhD, and he spent six years in London working for Goldman Sachs and later BlackRock.

During his years in London, he returned to Utah every summer to visit friends and family. On those visits, Wright would make a point to get lunch with the professors he had collaborated with when he was an undergrad student. On one of those trips, he met another finance professor, Taylor Nadauld, now the current chair of the Department of Finance at BYU Marriott. At one of these meetings, Nadauld suggested that Wright apply for a position as a finance professor.

Eventually Wright, along with his wife and four children, left behind the life they had built in London to come back to Provo. Although the transition presented challenges, Wright was motivated by the impact his professors had on him years earlier, and he wanted to be like them. “The reason we came to BYU is because we wanted to contribute and make a difference in students' lives,” Wright says.

Ian Wright stands with a group of professionally dressed students in New York City with the Empire State Building in the background.
Wright is an assistant professor of finance and the current finance undergraduate program director.
Photo courtesy of Ian Wright.

Now Wright wants to help his students find power from connecting with those around them and through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. He says, “If they are better disciples of Christ, they will be better professionals. And vice versa. I really want them to grasp that.”

Working at BYU Marriott as a professional faculty member allows Wright to focus solely on teaching and working with students. He advises various student associations and teaches the Silver Fund, Brigham Capital, international finance, financial fluency, and professional development classes. In these courses, Wright draws from his work experience to help students understand the real-world implications of the concepts he teaches.

As he teaches, Wright encourages his students to form deep connections with those around him, just like he did when he was in his undergraduate years at BYU. “If you get to know the people around you, you will make your life happier and richer,” Wright shares. “I'm grateful to all my past and current colleagues. I work with phenomenal people.”


Written by Kacee Call