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Alum Uses Performing Arts Admin Degree for Career Shift to Finance


After surgery following a broken leg, alumnus Kristen Irby made a dramatic career shift going from dance to finance after pursuing his master’s degree in Performing Arts Administration at NYU.  His unique career journey was recently featured in Think Advisor magazine, a financial services industry publication.

Instead of dancing or managing an arts organization, Irby is now a financial advisor, using the accounting and financial management knowledge he acquired at NYU to manage the family finances of lawyers, artists, an NFL coach, and other clients.

He helps them, seven days a week, with financial decisions big and small, planning for long-term financial health. He sees parallels between the two fields: “The discipline that dance requires, the focus, the adaptability. As a dancer, you’ve got to learn choreography very quickly. As an advisor, I have to quickly absorb frequent changes in laws and regulations and interpret them in an easy-to-understand manner to my clients. Also, I have to adapt to different clients: Everyone has a different situation and unique financial goals.”

While studying in the PAA program, Irby interned in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. There, he learned “the narrative behind numbers and to look beyond and through those numbers.”