Members of Severn’s Investment Club and the Student Led Investment Portfolio (SLIP) recently hit the Big Apple for a full-day adventure investigating careers in finance and meeting fellow Admirals who are leaders in the field.
This special field trip included visits to the offices of JPMorgan Chase and Nikko Securities, several talks with Severn alums who work in various finance-related fields, and lunch at Urbanspace, a bustling ethnic food court.
After an early morning train ride to Penn Station, the 16 students and two chaperones navigated the subway system to arrive at the JPMorgan Chase Building on Park Avenue, home to one of the world’s leading financial institutions with over 300,000 employees. They were met at the door by Dolph Habeck ’94, who escorted them to SMBC Nikko Securities, Inc. where Habeck is a Managing Director. He shared a brief presentation that included what Nikko Securities does, his personal path to his current career as a banker, and what a typical day looks like for a banking professional. He also talked about the industry’s process of recruiting recent college graduates, including the importance of internship opportunities.
His talk included practical advice, such as the advantages of learning another language. As a US banker for a Japanese bank, Habeck found that knowing the language and the culture changes the tenor of his meetings. He also spoke with the students about the importance of building client relationships by learning how to read a room. Bryce Feldmaier ’23 found Habeck’s insights regarding a second language and public speaking in a foreign setting especially interesting. “I also learned that when they’re hiring employees, they look at more of what you’ve done with internships and research rather than just hiring graduates from a specific set of schools only,” he said. “I thought this was a helpful remark as it relates to making a college decision.”
After the visit to Nikko, the group met up with Blake Nolan ’95, CFO of Adore Me, at nearby Urbanspace. Students had the opportunity to meet with Nolan in small groups over lunch and learn more about his career as an entrepreneur and CFO. Adore Me was recently purchased by Victoria’s Secret.
Grace Gunther ’25 is interested in a career in finance herself and found that the trip really opened her eyes to what that might look like. “It was fascinating to witness the workplace atmosphere, and to get those recommendations on what opportunities I can immerse myself in to prepare for a future in finance,” she said. “It was especially illuminating to hear the Severn alumni discuss the importance of confident public speaking.”
The final stop for the day was back at JPMorgan Chase for a group discussion with Jason Scott ’95, Keith Pettus ’95, and Stevie Kirkup ’09. The panelists shared information about each of their respective roles, which include CFO of Corporate Technology (Scott), Historic Tax Credit Equity Investor (Pettus), and Vice President in Asset Backed Securities Trading (Kirkup). Students had the opportunity to ask questions, and the speakers provided life advice as well, encouraging them to be open to all experiences. They also told them to stay humble, curious, and hungry. All of the alums talked about the myriad opportunities in finance, and how diverse people with diverse skill sets can find a home in finance.
“I believe we gained new perspectives and ideas about the financial markets on this trip,” said Feldmaier, adding that his favorite part was the stop at Nikko Securities. “Mr. Habeck’s career is very similar to what I envision my career to be like, so his perspective on international markets and finance abroad was very informative.”
“It was incredibly inspiring to interact with Severn alumni who shared how Severn prepared them with skillsets that led them to attain the jobs that they have today,” said Gunther. “It was so impactful to see real success from former Severn students, and it has motivated me to expose myself to different experiences at Severn that will help prepare me for my future career.”