Keeping Up With the Dow Joneses

Financial services alumni host finance undergraduates on a two-day tour of the banking and wealth management industry

Students in New York

Students capture a candid group selfie in Times Square. Below: Fearless Girl. Students and University President Marisa Kelly at the New York Stock Exchange. Sydney Watson, Class of 2021. Alumnus Bob Panessiti, MSF ’98, who planned and funded the trip, joins students for the experience.

Story by Ben Hall
Photography by Michael J. Clarke

Tucked in a corner of the gilded Board Room at the New York Stock Exchange is a giant Fabergé urn emblazoned with the crest of Tsar Nicholas II. The urn and its pedestal stand 6 feet tall—about the size of a well-fed Cossack. The urn was a thank-you gift from the Tsar to the NYSE for $1 billion in bonds (which the Russian government later defaulted on).


For nine Suffolk undergraduates in the finance program, the story of the urn was just one of many ways their major came alive during a trip to New York City. Over two days in early March, the students met with numerous industry leaders, many of whom are Suffolk alumni.


The trip was conceived and funded by Bob Panessiti, MSF ’98, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS, one of the largest investment banks in the world. A dedicated Suffolk alumnus, Panessiti understands there are some things you just can’t learn in a classroom.


“I wanted to show the students the various opportunities available in this industry and help them decide how they want to move forward as they begin their professional lives,” he says.


At Morgan Stanley, Marek Herchel, BSBA ’98, MSF ’00, and Pat Langone, BSBA ’99, advised the students to take early risks while building their careers.


At UBS, Panessiti and Global Head of Due Diligence Desi Narasimhan, MSF ’98, introduced four younger UBS colleagues who showed just how attainable a career in finance can be.


“As a senior, I found it incredibly useful to understand the different roles I might have in a long-term career path,” said Jai Patel, BSBA ’20, who made the networking score of the trip: When the UBS human resources person invited the students to apply for a rotational program, he handed her his resume on the spot.

Dow Jones 

Dow Jones

It was particularly empowering for myself as a Black woman to see a powerful female figure on Wall Street.”

Sydney Watson,
Class of 2021

Dow Jones

The students also visited the capital markets division of RBC to meet Michelle Neal, BSBA ’98, who has twice been recognized as one of American Banker’s 25 most powerful women in finance. She and her colleagues expounded on topics as varied as how Washington should respond to the coronavirus crisis, then in its early stages in the United States, to how to approach a job interview.

With the help of David Mazza, MBA ’15, the students witnessed the closing bell from the floor of the Exchange. They also visited Fearless Girl, the iconic sculpture that depicts a young female aiming a confident, almost “I dare you” expression at the New York Stock Exchange building.

“For me, Fearless Girl is a representation of women occupying a highly concentrated male space. It was particularly empowering for myself as a Black woman to see a powerful female figure on Wall Street,” said Sydney Watson, Class of 2021, one of four women on the trip.

For Watson and others, another big takeaway was networking with so many Suffolk alumni who have such important and varied roles in finance.

“Hearing from people in different parts of the industry was very beneficial to all of us,” says Watson. “It made me want to go figure out what else I could do with my finance degree.”

Dow Jones
Dow Jones
Dow Jones

Suffolk University Magazine

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