Paving the way to Wall Street

Author: Ed Cohen


In fall 2008, about 40 University of Notre Dame alumni in senior leadership positions on Wall Street formed a group to help pave the way for more Irish undergraduate students seeking jobs in the storied world of the New York financial services industry.

The thinking was that the Wall Street Leadership Committee (WSLC) – with its motto of “Invest Like a Champion” – could become a vital networking link, with members sharing their considerable experience in topics ranging from interview skills to finding internships.

“Some of the folks in the committee have gone to the campus a number of times to advise and conduct workshops, helping these really bright students speak the language of Wall Street,” said Tom Maheras, founder of Tegean Capital Management.

The results have been dramatic.

According to figures from the University’s Career Center, internships and externships with Wall Street investment banks, commercial banks and financial-services firms have risen from fewer than 10 per year in the 1980s, to 44 in 2009 and 170 in 2011. In the last five years, full-time placements have nearly tripled, from 51 to 145.

Alumni say Wall Street firms have come to value the emphasis on ethics and character that is a hallmark of a Notre Dame education and which Notre Dame alumni are known for.

“They’re smart.  They’re hard working. They’re team players, and they’ve got great values,” Scott Malpass ’84, ’86 MBA, the University’s chief investment officer, says of Notre Dame students. Malpass, who formerly worked on Wall Street, was one of the founders of the Wall Street Leadership Committee. He also helped to develop the Applied InvestmentManagement (AIM) course at Mendoza, where undergraduate and MBA students have the opportunity to manage a portfolio of more than $6 million from the Notre Dame endowment.

Senior finance major Anne Lenzi is headed to Barclays Capital after she graduates in May. She recalls that when she was looking for a job and spotted an interesting opportunity, she would email committee members to ask if they had time to talk about it.

“They were all just so willing to help.… They all got back to me so fast,” she says.

WSLC members are based primarily in New York but they also work in financial centers in cities such as Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. One of the goals of the committee is to expand the job network overseas as well.

“The more people from the University that we get in the asset management and investment business, the better off the business is,” said Notre Dame Trustee John J. Brennan, director for Hanover Insurance and senior advisor of The Vanguard Group. “We need more people with the values that come out of South Bend, frankly, than the values that have been most prevalent on Wall Street.”