When David Barranco ’92 reflects on his years at UVM where he studied economics, he remembers developing a certain flexibility of thinking that helped him solve problems that don’t always have textbook answers.
“I eventually got my MBA from Fordham and that gave me important background in finance, but I look to my UVM education as essential in helping me navigate my career with this company,” he said.
Barranco is senior managing director of restructuring and corporate development at Ambac Assurance Corporation, a company that specializes in providing insurance to bondholders, often states and municipalities, which issue bonds to finance everything from general operations, to schools, to road improvements, to large infrastructure projects.
He was director of the company’s European Structured Finance office based in London when the global financial crisis in 2008 struck. Along with many other companies with investments in mortgage-backed securities, Ambac was hit hard, with major bond guarantors struggling to pay insurance claims. Barranco was called back to the company’s home office in New York City to help manage the evolving crisis.
“Everything was turned upside down, so job descriptions didn’t mean much at that point,” he said. “You had to focus your energies on helping change the direction of the company, which places you in unfamiliar roles. In my case, it was transitioning from front office sales to hard core restructuring.”
That’s where Barranco’s UVM education helped him the most, managing the human side of business including thinking creatively and communicating effectively.
“You pick up a lot of knowledge from training and on the job experience, but a big part of any business is writing and presenting, negotiating, and learning how to work with people on the other side of the table. The broad liberal arts background at UVM helped prepare me for the person-to-person aspects of business.”
A native of Montpelier, Vt., Barranco saw UVM as an ideal institution to study economics. He began his career as an analyst in municipal bonds at JJ Kenney Drake and equities for Standard and Poor’s Equity Research Group. He joined Ambac in 1999 as first vice president in portfolio risk management.
UVM is still a big part of Barranco’s life. He’s interested in providing opportunities for a new generation of UVM students: in the summer of 2016, together with his wife, Christie McDade '92, he sponsored an internship for a UVM CAS student working in Boston. More recently, they established the Barranco-McDade scholarship for a CAS student. Currently Barranco serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board.
“UVM played a big role in my life, and I’m interested in helping students make that leap from earning a degree to succeeding in the working world,” he said.