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Values

A Lesson From Shoveling Mulch

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A Lesson From Shoveling Mulch

One of the earliest memories I have of life back in Ohio is shoveling mulch in the summer.  I could feel the oppressive rays of the sun persuading me to race back inside where I was promised cold, refreshing water, but my older brother always insisted we continued piling black mulch on top of the soil. 

“The faster we work, the sooner we get done,” he assured me. I wasn’t amused. The ache in my muscles did not care for his cliche captain obvious remarks. As I felt my skin cooking in the midwestern heat, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself: What’s the point?

It didn’t make sense to me; we would spend the better part of two days piling on at least 20 bags of mulch to cover the plot in the garden only for the wind to blow and the sky to rain, eroding all the mulch we worked so hard to place. Why were we spending so much time and putting so much work into something that could never last? Every summer we’d repeat the same cycle of buying mulch, piling it on, and waiting for it to blow away.

When I got a little bit older and was less afraid of questioning my parents, I asked them the question burning in my head for years: why? Why do we spend so much time and money on this? My mother gave me an answer that puzzled me.

“It looks nice. Even if it’s for a moment, it looks nice.” I could tell she did not put much thought into her response, as if it should have already been clear. Again, I was not amused. 

At that time, I was about 13 years old, I was still going through that annoying pre-teen phase, and my first reaction was well, why should I care? After all, if someone sees our yard and thinks it looks disheveled or horrible, that’s their own opinion. How should that affect me? But as I learned more, read more, and took more classes in high school, I started to realize that appearance isn’t vain. Appearance doesn’t have to be people-pleasing, and appearance at its base can serve a bigger purpose.

For instance, if you have ever seen me write with a pencil or pen, you’d know I have very neat handwriting, but it does come at a price: I write extremely slowly. Often, people would notice and comment that those perfect round letters aren’t worth the cost of my glacial writing pace. To them, this is just another ploy to gain approval from my instructors when I turn in a prim and proper paper. 

But they’re wrong. Though I’ll admit I did play the role of teacher’s pet from time to time, that was never the aim with my neat handwriting. Whenever I doll up my paper and worsen my writer’s callus, that is me putting on my gardening gloves and shoveling mulch. I’m putting that work in for my lawn, for my growth, for my plants.

And let me be clear– it’s not because I want to have the best lawn in the neighborhood or that I want my lawn to be the object of everybody’s envy. It’s simpler than that. It’s because after working for long hours over two days, I can have a sense of accomplishment. I can lean back, have a glass of water, and say it looks nice. Even if it’s for a moment and even if nobody sees, it’s okay– it still looks nice.

My challenge to all of you is to reject the idea that your accomplishments only matter if there is someone to congratulate you, to perceive you. Have the courage to say “no, I’m not trying to impress anybody but myself,” because, at the end of the day, the mulch is going to wash away anyway.

Six Questions with Jenny Han

By Curiosity, Impact, Values No Comments

Six Questions with Scholars of Finance is a series intended to highlight the thoughts and lives of our students at Scholars of Finance. In the series, the students are simply asked six questions which we think embody the SOF experience and their answers are shared right here on the Scholars of Finance blog. In this second edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jenny Han, a rising Sophomore at UC – Berkeley. If you are a student and would like to be featured in a segment of Six Questions with Scholars of Finance, please reach out to Jake Kranz via email.

What school do you go to?

University of California at Berkeley Class of 2023

Do you have any employment plans in the near future?

I am interning at a company called Kaali that is part of UC-Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator program.

Could you tell me a little bit about your experience with Scholars of Finance so far?

I joined Scholars of Finance in the spring of 2020 and gravitated towards it because of how differentiated of a business club it was, and still is. I was drawn in by the focus on morals and values and my strong belief in the mission. I’m a part of the associate team for the LDP out here and I’ve really enjoyed building deep, meaningful relationships with members through this program.

What is your favorite memory from Scholars of Finance so far?

My favorite memory so far is definitely the LDP. It’s given me the opportunity to learn about myself and others much more than I have in any of my other clubs or classes at college.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Scholars of Finance?

The most important thing that I’ve learned to do in my time at SOF is the ability to implement my values and morals into everything that I do. Instead of thinking of success in the traditional way, I now think of success as sticking true to my values and living life in accordance with them.

If you could tell the next generation of SOF students anything – what would you tell them?

Take this time to truly reflect on who you want to be and what you really want out of life.

Taking Action Against Racial Injustice

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Taking Action Against Racial Injustice

 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

It has taken some time to think about what to say publicly about George Floyd. Hearts have been heavy, eyes full of tears, minds on fire with anger, but we have been learning and listening – having conversations with friends, colleagues, and our student members at Scholars of Finance.

Martin Luther King Jr. has been someone we’ve looked to for inspiration and guidance as we build Scholars of Finance, and his teachings have provided much-needed clarity. Dr. King famously said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

At Scholars of Finance, we stand against the fatal brutality that George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more black and brown people, not only in the last week, but for more than 400 years, have been victims of in our country. We stand against the racism and inequity that have permeated our country for so long.

We stand in support of peaceful protests. We stand for a world where all people can be safe and have equal opportunity. Our stated mission is to develop the next generation of finance leaders who lead with character, integrity, and stewardship. We stand for leaders of all races and backgrounds who consider inclusion, respect, and compassion central to that mission.

Dr. King also told us, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

His call was clear. We must lead with love.

His life was clear. We must lead with action.

Our first step was to examine how we lead with our values during this time and take action in accordance with them.

Curiosity– The anger and sadness that black communities around the country are expressing is justified and understandable, and it is incumbent upon those of us with comparative privilege to first seek to understand. In the last week, we’ve heard many painful stories from our black students about the racism they’ve endured growing up, at school, at their finance internships. We must listen. We will seek diverse perspectives as we work to examine how racism has survived in the systems and institutions–the justice department, economic structures, and political machinery–that have yet to solve these problems.

Courage– We embrace change and help others do the same. We stand up for what we believe in. Those of us with privilege must confront the role we play in a system that perpetuates the socioeconomic marginalization of our neighbors. We must learn to use our privilege for good and learn to employ our social capital to shepherd change – intervening when we encounter injustice and racism, talking to friends and family, donating, calling our elected officials, confronting the issue head-on.

Integrity– We foster partnerships through respect and compassion. We will respect all people, regardless of their background, and compassionately honor our fundamental human equality. We speak the truth at all times and will foster honest dialogue among our communities to catalyze durable change and unity. We will not stand by and watch injustice occur. We will be principled stewards, proactive allies, and change agents.

Humility– We serve others above ourselves and we seek to know the truth about ourselves and those around us. Those of us with privilege acknowledge and dissolve our conscious biases – and treat feedback as a gift as we understand our unconscious ones. We must recognize that systemic change and dismantling institutional racism will take not only a city, or a nation, but the entire world.

Impact– We examine our decisions through a long term lens. Systemic racism has existed for all of recorded human history, but through thoughtful and concerted effort, perhaps we can end it in our lifetimes. While we develop durable solutions, we take action now. Multiple efforts are currently underway across our organization, including:

  • Fundraising for the cause to support black, brown, and indigenous communities
  • Calling representatives and signing petitions to demand justice and change
  • Compiling and sharing lists of resources that other students can use to support the cause

Our National Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce has been working to make Scholars of Finance increasingly welcoming and supportive of people of all backgrounds – and to help foster that same progress in the finance industry as a whole. We aimed for at least 50% ethnic and gender diversity among our student leaders this year. We reached 69% diversity and will continue to make this a priority. In the coming weeks, months, and years, we will continue to take more action.

It is integral to Scholars of Finance that these barriers presented by institutional, systemic racism are broken down as part of our commitment to ethics and integrity, not only in finance, but in the world at large. Together, we can make progress. In unity – leading with love and taking action – we can create the change we want to see, and in the words of Dr. King, “help men rise… to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”

Six Questions with Noah Haverlock

By Curiosity, Impact No Comments

Six Questions with Noah Haverlock

Six Questions with Scholars of Finance is a series intended to highlight the thoughts and lives of our students at Scholars of Finance. In the series the students are simply asked six questions which we think embody the SOF experience and their answers are shared right here on the Scholars of Finance blog. In the first edition of Scholars of Finance we had the pleasure of sitting down with Noah Haverlock, a graduating senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. If you are a student and would like to be featured in a segment of Six Questions with Scholars of Finance, please reach out to Jake Kranz via email.

What school do you go to?

University of St. Thomas Class of 2020

Do you have any employment plans in the near future?

I will be joining Chartwell full-time as an ESOP(Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Analyst.

Could you tell me a little bit about your experience with Scholars of Finance so far?

It’s been a long leadership journey for me so far. I’ve been involved with SOF for three years and started as a member of the symposium team in a minor role. From there I wanted to take on more of a leadership role and slowly worked my way up the ranks until I became the president of the chapter this last year. As a part of my role this year I had the opportunity to facilitate the LDP and it was very fulfilling seeing the participants grow. 

What is your favorite memory from Scholars of Finance so far?

My first symposium was a big memory especially since I was able to help out behind the scenes. That was the 2018 Symposium back when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know what it would feel like being a part of the leadership team pulling the event together, but it was really cool being a part of something that big.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Scholars of Finance?

It’s important to think about your values and bring them top of mind before you enter your career. Even if we don’t encounter ethical issues now, we will encounter them in the future. Knowing your values and having a line in the sand to guide you is huge.

If you could tell the next generation of SOF students anything – what would you tell them?

DIVE IN! You’ll get out of SoF what you put in and if there’s anything you’d like to learn about, or any skills you’d like to develop – you can – just ask around. Also, be sure to take advantage of the Speaker Series events and stay in contact with your mentor(s).

Finding The Leader Within

By Curiosity, Humility No Comments

Finding the Leader Within

 

“Um… I-” I stuttered as my interviewer raised his eyebrow at me. I felt the heat rising to my face slowly until words clumsily stumbled out of my mouth, barely coherent. It was transparent to the four upperclassmen in the room grilling me that I was grossly underprepared. The next hour crept by, each question stinging me harder than the latter. My lack of knowledge was apparent. Finally, the hour was up, my torture was over. I gathered my resume and stumbled out of the room, frustrated. It was the first month of business school and I was already struggling.

As the elevator lurched down to the lobby of Stern’s Tisch Hall and screeched to a halt, I held back my tears. How was it that I was so unprepared? Why did they expect me to know all these advanced questions for a club interview? What are technicals?These questions continually circled through my head, especially when listening to my friends detail their positive interview experiences later that day in the dining hall. They laughed, sharing the inside jokes and connections they had already made with their interviewers while I dejectedly slurped up my Jamba Juice smoothie through a drenched paper straw. It was clear to me that I had no idea what breaking into business, tech, or finance entailed. Going to Stern, I thought the next four years were going to be a piece of cake. I was going to learn everything I needed to in class, and magically secure my dream job, touting my business school’s name at every major firm. In an hour, my mindset shifted from overconfidence to anxiety. How was I going to get a job if I couldn’t even get into a club at Stern? What do I need to learn and by when? How does everyone already know everything?

The anxiety persisted throughout my first month of college. I had only applied to and got rejected from one club, and had no direction with how I should be developing myself professionally. I turned to LinkedIn, scouring upperclassmen profiles, figuring out how to get involved, remain proactive, and abate my consternation. One day, when I thought all hope was lost, I received a message from Trent Madill, Chief of Staff Intern, reaching out to me about an organization called Scholars of Finance and the opportunity to co-found an NYU chapter. Thinking it to be a spam message, I checked the link attached to see the legitimacy of the website. Shocked by its extensiveness, I messaged Trent back, indicating my interest. My interview was lined up within the week, and this time, I was determined to be overprepared. Reading through the key tenets of Scholars of Finance, I was instantly drawn to the mentorship aspect. I needed guidance on how to navigate the complex world of finance and all it had to offer.

As I sped through the interview and onboarding process, it became evident that Scholars of Finance was an organization that would prioritize my professional needs and growth. The open conversations I had with our CEO, Ross, and our National Management Interns, Jake, Trent, and Mason, all gave me a platform to pitch myself confidently to the organization while being candid about my struggles and lack of knowledge. As elections for the NYU chapter rolled around, I knew I wanted to become as involved as possible, so I ran for President and had the privilege of being elected. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that becoming elected would be the hardest part when in reality, the arduous challenges were yet to come.

Having had extensive leadership experience in high school, I anticipated I already knew everything there was to know about leading and managing people. However, my first month as President was a complete disaster. My inability to properly delegate work and empower others to complete it became painfully obvious. My Slack Direct Messages were filled with feedback from my fellow leadership team members explaining how they felt out of the loop and unable to actually complete any work, and as I took over major initiatives, I left little room for collaboration. As this continued, I quickly became bottlenecked by all the work I needed to complete, resulting in the poor organization and execution of our programs. It was only when I spoke candidly to Ross that he identified the underlying issue. “Leadership is not about doing everything yourself. It’s not about controlling or forcing others to do it either. The best leaders empower others to reach their full potential and don’t have to lift a finger themselves.” I cried as Ross continued (I wish I could say that was the first and last time), because, deep down, I knew he was right. I needed to grow and make a significant change for the sake of my chapter and co-leaders. And so, I consistently sought his feedback and implemented SoF’s philosophy of being slow to speak and quick to listen. Consequently, it did not become hard for the NYU chapter to grow and become one of the highest functioning and engaged chapters in the organization. All it took was a little guidance.

And so, Scholars of Finance made me realize true leadership and mentorship is not just about learning technical knowledge or professional development. It’s about investing in someone’s growth to make them the best possible version of themselves. Looking back on this year, I can confidently say that Scholars of Finance has made me a much better leader and manager while equipping me with the skills to continue my growth in the future.

 

— 

Shivi Chauhan is the President and one of the original Co-Founders of the New York University chapter. She is currently a freshman at NYU Stern majoring in Finance and Data Science with a minor in Public Policy and Management. Along with Scholars of Finance, Shivi is a Copy Editor and Staff Writer for the Stern Gould Standard, a Research Assistant in the Management and Organizations department through the Stern Program for Undergraduate Research, and she will be joining NYU’s premier raas team, NYU Raas Malai, this coming fall. In her free time, Shivi likes to learn new languages and cook with her family.

This Is It: The Most Important Lesson for Future Leaders of Finance

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This Is It: The Most Important Lesson for Future Leaders of Finance

 

If I could offer one piece of advice to millennial professionals in the finance industry who have never been through a bear market, much less an unfolding societal crisis like that caused by the COVID-19 virus, it would be this: Pay attention.

Extreme times reveal core values. Crises reveal character. This may be one of the single most important moments you will ever experience in your development as future leaders of our industry. Decades from now you will talk about this with your children and grandchildren, with the employees who will then be reporting to you, with the companies and businesses you will be running. The pandemic of 2020 will be one of the things that formed you as a professional and a person. 

Now is a time for heightened mindfulness. Pay attention to what you are feeling and how you’re reacting to situations. At work. At home. In the communities, you are a part of. What matters most to you amid the profound unfamiliarity and uncertainty and anxiety we are living with on a daily basis?

Watch the people you admire and respect. How are they behaving? My bet is that those rising to this occasion are radiating an outward-focused commitment to attending to and serving others, while at the same time, they seem centered and grounded. 

This is the secret to leading effectively in a crisis. You need to find the solid ground on which you can stand – stable, centered, strong. But that solid, stable ground has to be the conviction that your purpose, at times like these, isn’t to worry about yourself – it is to help others. To help real people in the real world with real problems. 

As I wrote in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009, “The best way to make it through a crisis is to stop focusing on your own problems and start helping others with theirs.”

Learn that. Experience that. Live that. And you will have the most important thing you need to lead our industry through peak and valley cycles and crises in years to come. 

 

John Taft is the Vice Chairman of Baird. John is a current member of the Board of Advisors of Scholars of Finance, the former CEO of RBC Wealth Management, has served on the board of several Non-Profit Organizations, and is deeply committed to the prosperity of our communities. This blog post originally appeared on financeforthegreatergood.com.

Enduring the COVID-19 Quarantine

By Courage, Curiosity, Humility, Impact, Integrity No Comments

Enduring the COVID-19 Quarantine

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the world as a singular, integrated entity—one free of borders, restrictions, or individual nations. Rather, a massive unit of free-flowing thought, boundless inspiration, and limitless ideas. With our current circumstances, how could I not? No matter which corner of the Earth you hail from, you are likely to be one of billions stuck at home, battling similar feelings of concern, angst, or frustration toward the COVID-19 quarantine. However, looking past its overtly devastating impact and a tragic impediment to society, COVID-19 has left one particularly remarkable effect on the world—solidarity

A new degree of global awareness, one that is far too often lost in the hectic pace of everyday life, has been garnered by so many of us. For example, never have I found myself so engaged in the daily lives and feelings of those from Italy or China, who were initially afflicted the most dramatically. Never have I been so inspired by the collective voices of citizens singing from balconies, or videos of healthcare workers stripping their masks off in celebration of success. Never have I felt so in sync with the world or understood so clearly the nature of humanity—to suffer, and heal, as one.

Still, even with a firm grasp of the nature and severity of the situation, how are we going to get through this? As Scholars of Finance members, business students, and analytical enthusiasts, we are certainly accustomed to a level of unpredictability, but never before on this scale. How can we make the most of our time during the COVID-19 quarantine? In what ways can we harness growth and continue to build our personal and professional skillsets? While I am no expert, I am happy to share the number of ways I have been sustaining my productivity and sanity, plus a few more that might help you do the same.

First and foremost, while I have continued maintaining relationships that I have formed with professionals during my first semester at NYU Stern, I have also continued maintaining personal relationships. It is equally as important to check in on those who care about you and to be responsive. Allow your academic and professional roles to be principal in your life, but prioritize your friends and family just as carefully. From personal experience, when you have trouble balancing all of these different sectors of life, consider revisiting the Scholars of Finance core values—integrity, humility, curiosity, courage, and impact—to help guide your decisions.

Furthermore, it is very possible to excel in your academics. Following a relatively strict time schedule to complete your coursework, possibly one identical to your pre-quarantine schedule, deems itself a promising plan. Give yourself a structure. Consistency is key. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to change out of those pajamas you’ve worn for three days!

On a more professional note, it is unfortunate to hear that many summer internships have been canceled. However, there are a number of firms that are willing to accommodate internships digitally. In fact, just last week I interviewed for a firm that told me to expect the possibility of an online transition. Additionally, there is a multitude of online resources aimed at providing alternatives to those whose internships have been canceled: I’d recommend simply opening up your LinkedIn account, and I can guarantee that a number of these resources will pop up on your feed. If you’re having trouble, be sure to reach out to your established connections or create a post—you never know who might be able to help you. Luckily, interview prep, resume workshops, and career panels are still in abundance. Many companies are hosting live and interactive webinars, such as Wells Fargo’s 2020 Beyond College Webinar Series, and are committed to your success now more than ever.

With that, I hope a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you are able to find clarity in the transition to a digital academic/professional experience if it comes down to it. Again, it can be extremely beneficial to stay busy. Keep up with your coursework, continue advancing your professional skills, and maybe even pick up a new hobby—personally, I’m trying to learn Spanish!

To the extent that you can, try to mirror or slightly modify activities that helped you find success, and peace, before the days of the COVID-19 quarantine. In the midst of enormous chaos, it is vital that you keep stillness inside of you. Here at Scholars of Finance, there is a tremendous amount of support and guidance through all of this, so do not hesitate to reach out to a member or an executive should you feel lost or defeated—maybe even consider joining our organization in the future. Lean on your family, friends, and mentors as you see fit. It is difficult to overstate the tragedy and disturbance that COVID-19 has brought us, so please know that any fears or concerns you may have are valid, understood, and empathized with. Above all, stay positive and hopeful for the future—your own future, the future of the sick or less fortunate, the future of the economy, and the future of the cities you might call home. As not just a member of Scholars of Finance but a student at NYU Stern, I am incredibly hopeful and optimistic for the greatest city in the world (and others) to beat COVID-19 and to return just a little bit greater.

 

— 

Tony Ferrara is a member of Scholars of Finance and one of the original Co-Founders at New York University. Tony is currently a freshmen at New York University and is majoring in finance and sustainable business with a minor in public policy at the Stern School of Business.