Innovator Article

Nicole Pedro Puts Down Roots in Agribusiness Finance

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On any given day, Nicole Pedro might tour a vineyard, cherry orchard or rice farm, analyze a loan for a walnut orchard or research the forest products industry. Since joining Prudential Agricultural Investments, Pedro has harvested first-hand knowledge of the unique and complex financial needs of West Coast growers.

Pedro is a first-year student in the Working Professional MBA program in Sacramento. After graduating from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in managerial economics, she joined Prudential’s Roseville, Calif., office in 2005 as an investment analyst. Pedro’s territory covers Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

Working while attending the UC Davis MBA program is a particularly valuable aspect of the experience because the concepts I am learning in class are relevant and directly applicable to my position here at Prudential. –Nicole Pedro

Prudential Agricultural Investments funds agribusiness and farming operations throughout the U.S, and has built a loan portfolio of $2.6 billion, of which the Roseville office holds $990 million. It is an affiliate of Prudential Mortgage Capital Company, which is part of New Jersey–based Prudential Financial, a global financial services powerhouse with international operations spanning Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Now a senior investment analyst, Pedro supports two loan originators serving clients who seek an average loan of $5.5 million to buy land, start or expand wineries, build packing sheds and other structures, plant crops or refinance existing debts. It’s important that applications are approved or declined quickly to allow potential loans to keep entering the pipeline, she says. From 2005 to 2010, her fast work helped her office’s loan portfolio grow by nearly 50 percent, or $326 million.

Pedro’s due diligence includes accessing the client’s existing debt, ability to repay, equity, location, soil quality and the availability of irrigation water. The bottom line is determining the degree of credit risk, which guides her colleagues’ decisions whether to approve loans. Pedro also reassesses the overall credit quality of the Roseville office’s existing loan portfolio by updating credit analyses with clients’ latest financial statements.

Pedro is pursuing an MBA to improve her critical thinking and business analysis skills, while developing marketing and negotiation abilities. Her short-term goal: to become a loan originations professional at Prudential, marketing loan products to potential clients, conducting property and loan collateral inspections and determining whether to recommend potential loans to upper management, among other responsibilities.

“I have experience with the analysis and closing part of the process; becoming an originator would provide me with experience in the marketing side,” Pedro says. “Gaining knowledge in all aspects of the lending process will make me a more effective employee.”

Pedro became interested in the Graduate School of Management when she attended the UC Davis Wine Executive Program in 2008 to build her knowledge of viticulture, wine making and the issues facing vineyards and winery owners.

Alumnus Rachelle Schlesinger ’05, a principal at Prudential’s Roseville office and Pedro’s supervisor, also played a role, nudging her to take the MBA plunge. “I encouraged Nicole to enroll in the program knowing the benefits it would provide in terms of personal development and career advancement opportunities at Prudential,” says Schlesinger, a graduate of the Sacramento Working Professional MBA program.

“Over the last year, Nicole has demonstrated a broader understanding of financial statements, which is a critical skill set,” Schlesinger says. “The program also has given her the opportunity to work in larger team environments with diverse individuals, which have bolstered her confidence and her presentation skills and will accelerate her managerial development.”

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