Making ‘Cents’ of Wall Street; Severn Students Meet with Alums

Early this February, Mr. Meyer and Mrs. Campion brought back the New York City Wall Street Finance trip after a short hiatus due to the pandemic. Sixteen Severn-students were selected to visit alumni who work for investment banks: JP Morgan and SMBC Nikko Securities. We met with Dolph Habeck ’94 at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., Blake Nolan ’95 CFO at Adore Me, as well as Keith Pettus ’95, Jason Scott ’95, and Stevie Kirkup ’09 all at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Students gather in the subway

After enduring a long train ride and a few missed turns, we started our morning at SMBC Nikko Securities with Dolph Habeck to learn about his role as the Managing Director of an operating company of Japan’s largest bank. Like many other Wall Street investment banks, SMBC Nikko Securities connects clients to both local and global markets, however as a Japanese company based in New York, SMBC Nikko Securities differentiates itself by maintaining Japanese traditions and values of integrity and honor in the workplace. Habeck mentions how working in a different environment than previous careers helped him learn to interact with people of different backgrounds and customs, in order to build  stronger relationships and improve business. As Habeck spoke, his ability to remain both friendly and professional with the group proved him to be very welcoming, as well as a strong public speaker, all thanks he gave to Dr. Baugh.

Following a quick lunch, we returned to the same building to meet with three alumni who now work for J.P. Morgan. Like Habeck, Jason Scott highlighted the importance of communication and presentation that comes with a career on Wall Street, traits he feels as if he really learned by playing on Severn’s lacrosse team with his teammate and now coworker, Keith Pettus. As the largest bank on Wall Street, efficient communication is vital to keeping everyone on the same page. Pettus noted how even though excessive communication can make parts of his job tedious, it holds the whole bank together. With a stressful job like this, both Pettus and Scott are great examples of disciplined and responsible individuals.

Also with J.P. Morgan was Stevie Kirkup, who like Pettus and Scott, happened to be a member of the Severn lacrosse team, and then go on to advance his lacrosse career by playing at UNC. During his undergraduate years at UNC, he was a management and society major, which is somewhat atypical for someone who then goes to work on Wall Street. As the conversation developed, we had a lot of questions about how someone would go about finding a career in finance and what colleges or programs fit best for that aspiration. Kirkup described how after his high school graduation in ’09, he had no idea what type of career he wanted to pursue, and he did not think about what he should be doing to ultimately end up working for an investment bank. Yet, even without a standard resume, Kirkup was able to obtain this career by being coachable and open-minded. In a finance career, the ability to efficiently interact with coworkers and clients is a highly valued skill to have, and we are all so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak with someone about what is truly important when navigating the beginning of your career path.

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