Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Feature Story

Leadership Lessons from US Treasury Asst. Sec. for Financial Stability Timothy Massad

October 13, 2011

"The key is to gain valuable experience by doing something that's important to you."

This is the advice to business school students given by Timothy G. Massad, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial stability.

Confirmed June 30, 2011, by the United States Senate, Massad is responsible for overseeing the implementation and wind down of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The program essentially has allowed the U.S. government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector. Massad will be speaking at The Fuqua School of Business on Monday, October 3rd. He took some time to share some of his thoughts on leadership and the challenges he faces as a government official in the following Fuqua Q and A:

What are you most proud of in your career?

I'm most proud of having the opportunity to serve my country by working at the Department of the Treasury during these very difficult economic times.

What is the greatest challenge you face as a government leader today?

Our greatest challenge as a government is to bring people together and take the actions necessary to address both our short term need to promote economic growth and our long-term need to put our government's finances on a sustainable path.

What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in implementing TARP?

One of our greatest challenges has been to make sure the American people understand why TARP was needed and what actions we took. TARP was necessary and effective at helping to stabilize the financial system, but understandably unpopular - no one likes having to use taxpayer dollars to prevent a collapse of our financial system. Therefore, it is important to discuss the financial crisis we faced in 2008 and the lessons we learned in addressing that crisis.

What advice would you give a business school student who aspires to work in finance / banking, be it the private or public sector?

Focus on finding work that you are passionate about, with people you can learn the most from, and in situations that can broaden your skills and your understanding of the world. International experience is especially important in our global economy. While it is important to earn enough to pay your expenses and repay debts, don't focus on salary in the early years of your career. The key is to gain valuable experience by doing something that's important to you.