It’s tradition. Each year, students in the Investment Management class visit New York City to tour financial institutions and meet with industry experts. This April brought the same trip but with an exciting spin: Professor of Business Administration Jody Murphy planned an itinerary that gave seven other classmates and me unprecedented access to the inner workings of the world’s financial capital. Here are my highlights, though I found every part of the trip enlightening.
We visited Bloomberg, which provides financial software, data services and news to financial companies and organizations (we students dream of having a Bloomberg Terminal at the college, but it’s pricey).
My jaw dropped as I stepped off the elevator and saw a beautiful space punctuated by glass walls to promote transparency and collaboration. The company has planned the environment down to every design detail in support of its mission. The elevators, for example, don’t stop on every floor, compelling employees to interact outside their departments. This reminded me of my Organizational Behavior class and brought to life the textbook idea of promoting group cohesiveness and information flow in a large business. This prominent financial organization is peopled by the cream of the crop, individuals who hail from diverse backgrounds, which I found inspiring. My classmate Cody Kostrzebski ’19 nailed our reaction to this dream workplace when he said, “This place is like Disneyland!”
At our next stop, the CFA Institute, I asked about the characteristics of successful investors. The answer: People motivated to keep learning stay marketable, and people with emotional intelligence are essential. Also crucial is facility with coding and writing algorithms.
The next day, we had the opportunity to witness the NASDAQ’s opening bell, rung by Villanova’s NCAA champion basketball team. It was cool to see future professional athletes, but I was also struck by the culture and energy behind the daily ceremony.
At TIAA, Chief Investment Strategist Brian Nick grabbed our attention with a fascinating overview of his work and field, and he offered thorough, thoughtful answers to our questions. Jourdain Bell ’19 shared with him that our investment fund has about $500,000 spread out over 30 stocks and asked if we were spread too thin; we were pleased with Nick’s response that we were right on target. When Muhammad Ghaznavi ’18 asked Nick to name his three favorite business books, he said he still reads his texbooks, then mentioned International Economics: Theory and Policy by Paul Krugman and Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton before adding that he mostly reads about other topics. Nick seemed to appreciate our questions, and we were pretty happy with his conclusion that we sounded prepared for the workforce.
After lunch, we spent a few hours on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with Peter Costa, president and co-founder of the Empire Executions trading group. Costa was sarcastic and brutally honest; he knew how to get and keep our attention. He also swears by old-fashioned advice: ask questions, have a good handshake, look people in the eye and sell what you’ve got. “Never apologize for going to a small school,” he said. “Most people don’t get to, so that’s a selling point. It’s an advantage — use it.”
He’s right. I can see myself working in New York City, and I’ll never sell myself short. My liberal arts education will help me reach heights I didn’t think were possible before my time in New York.