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Alumni Snapshots: Q&A with Matt Larson '02

Alumni Director Carrie Grimes enjoyed meeting Matt Larson ‘02 at the Admirals San Francisco Alumni Social. As it turns out, Matt grew up around the corner from where Carrie lives now, and they almost overlapped out west. Matt and his wife Kim are happy Bay Area residents, along with their pup Jack.
When did you graduate from Severn? 2002

Where do you live now and how did you end up there? What stops did you have along the way? My wife, Kim, and I live in Lafayette, California, about 20 miles East of San Francisco. We moved here in the summer of 2017 and absolutely love all that the area has to offer. After Severn, I spent my undergraduate years in Greenville, South Carolina, moved to Los Angeles for law school, started working at a firm in Palo Alto, and eventually relocated to Washington, D.C., where I met Kim. She was offered a position with a group of neonatologists that staff NICUs in Oakland, Berkeley, and Walnut Creek, we made the decision to relocate and take up residence in the Bay Area.
 
Please tell us about your professional/career journey thus far. It’s been a wild ride. After graduating law school in 2009, I started working as a patent attorney in the intellectual property litigation group of a large multinational law firm. The work was fantastic and wonderfully challenging, but the hours were brutal and I found that just didn’t enjoy arguing with other people all that much. An opportunity arose to join Bloomberg’s capital markets research group, Bloomberg Intelligence, as a litigation analyst, so I switched gears from law to finance in 2015. At Bloomberg, I focused on the impact of high-tech lawsuits on the financial markets, essentially translating legal jargon into plain English for traders and hedge fund managers to provide actionable insights and inform investment decisions. I couldn’t have asked for a more engaging environment and was fortunate to work with an outstanding group of analysts and reporters at Bloomberg.
 
At the end of 2018, I joined Oceanic Partners, a venture capital firm focused on investments in late-stage private technology companies. We both operate as a broker in the private secondary markets and run a series of funds that target select opportunities in that space. Personally, I find the work incredibly rewarding as the deals draw upon the best experiences I had as a lawyer and an analyst.

What do you enjoy most about your career? 
The people. There is no job perk better than enjoying the people you work with and learning from them. At each stage of my career, I have had the privilege of dealing with talented, knowledgeable people who excel in their field are passionate about their work. It is impossible to operate in that kind of environment and not grow professionally and as a person. 

What influence did Severn have on your life’s path? Your career path?
Simply put, Severn taught me to develop as a whole person. I don’t know that I appreciated it at the time, but Severn’s focus on building skill sets across academics, athletics, the arts and social settings provides a sound framework for maintaining balance throughout life. In my career, I’ve benefited greatly from pursing new interests and opportunities. While some of that is definitely more personality driven, I think it was critically important to have gotten an education that encouraged building on existing strengths while offering myriad opportunities to try new things and step outside of my comfort zone.
 
What are your favorite things to do in your free time? Hiking with Kim and our dog, Jack, is at the top of the list. The Bay Area boasts some amazing trails from the Oakland Hills to the redwoods of Muir Woods and having near perfect weather nine months out of the year makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors. Grilling. Rock climbing. I rarely turn down an opportunity to play golf.

If you could give advice to the Class of 2019 what would it be? Challenge yourselves. Pursue your interests, even if they are varied and seem unrelated. Travel or study abroad for a term or two. Learn to cook and manage your finances well.

What teachers had the most influence on your at Severn? It’s difficult to narrow it down to just a few over the seven years that I was at Severn. Ian Carr was a tremendous influence as the varsity soccer coach, ensuring every member of the team understood the true meaning of hard work. Doug Sassi’s ability to deftly chaperone a month-long Italy trip set a high benchmark for international travel and I’ve enjoyed exploring new places ever since. I still value the encouragement Ernie Green provided as a musician and Tom Worthington’s English class will always stand out as a favorite.

What is the most valuable asset you inherited from your Severn education? Learning to work efficiently. I stayed pretty busy throughout high school and learning to manage obligations across classes, sports, and extracurricular was a key element of my education. Having a framework to tackle challenges and manage stress provides a crucial skill as life goes on presents increasingly difficult demands. In my own experience, the ability to work efficiently is a key element in being able to take on new and challenging tasks. I definitely credit Severn for laying a solid groundwork for the lifelong learning process.

Did Severn have a lasting impact on who you are today? If so, in what ways? Without a doubt. While I think most people would say middle- and high-school were influential, Severn has had a tremendous impact on my life. To this day, most of my closest friends are from Severn. We have spread out across the country over the years and do a mediocre job of staying in touch, but the relationships stay in tact despite the distance and time between visits or phone calls. It’s tough to nail down exactly how and why friendships like that develop, but I attribute it in large part to growing up together, having shared the early experiences and expectations that formed who we are and where we are headed. Severn played a major role forging those friendships and shaping who we are as individuals.
 
What 3 words would you use to describe Severn School? Ambitious. Dynamic. Formative.
 
    • Matt Larson '02

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