From the Battlefield to the Bay Area
Why did you choose GGU over another university?
First, and most important, was the location. San Francisco is what I call the “West Coast Wall Street” and you can’t get any closer to that with GGU being located here next to the financial district. The opportunities for employment and networking in the city are endless. The staff and admissions staff were extremely polite and cooperative.
I took a look at all the classes GGU had to offer and was convinced it had everything that I was looking for. Its CyberCampus is allows a great deal of flexibility to students. GGU even offers a graduate degree in Technical Analysis and is the only school in the country to teach the Wycoff method of trading. All of the school’s professors bring so much to the table via their collective professional working experience. Lastly, Golden Gate University works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is one of the few private schools who partake in the “Yellow Ribbon Program”. The Yellow Ribbon Program is designed to help maximize the benefits from the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. Golden Gate University and the VA work together through the Yellow Ribbon Program to match the tuition costs 50/50, allowing myself and other veterans the opportunity to go to school without incurring a large sum of debt. Furthermore, the school has a fantastic faculty dedicated to helping the veterans attending school here. Silvana Giacalone in particular has been an incredible help to myself and others and deserves some special recognition for her outstanding work.
You were in the military. Can you describe your experience and how it has impacted your life?
Yes ma’am I was. I was a Sergeant in the world’s finest United States Marine Corps. I was an Infantry Squad Leader and did two combat tours to Iraq. My experience was indescribable. I’ll tell you this, though: I loved my job. It was the best job I’ve ever had in my life. This isn’t to say that it was all fun and games, because it wasn't. I just had such a sense of purpose and got to live life at 1,000 miles per hour. Oddly enough, the most miserable of my experiences are the most memorable ones now. I often look back and laugh, but back then there was nothing funny about it. Everyone’s experience in the military is different. A lot depends on your branch, your occupational specialty, which wars you were in, and whether or not you saw combat. How have my experiences in the Marines impacted my life? I had discipline before joining the service, but now I’m much more disciplined and even more diligent. If there is one thing the Corps taught me, it’s mission accomplishment. It was drilled into my mind repeatedly and through a matter of necessity while serving in Iraq. To this day I still refuse to give up on something until I complete it entirely. Just ask the tutors in the math lab! (Thanks Shoshana and Nabinita!) I’m also much more appreciative for all that I have been blessed with. It may sound cliché, but I am literally grateful to be alive today.
You recently took an internship in finance. Can you describe what you are doing and where you are heading with that opportunity?
Sure. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told how important it is to do an internship during your first summer at grad school. I was extremely fortunate to get this opportunity. I’m interning with MassMutual Financial Group. It’s an insurance company in the Fortune 100. They’re a mutually owned company, which means that they don’t have to bow to the demands of Wall Street, and this is a powerful motivator for their clients, because it shows they have the client’s best interests in line with their own. MassMutual doesn’t just sell life insurance; they also provide other financial assistance to help their policy holders as well. MassMutual also helps their clients with disability insurance, long-term care insurance, retirement and 401(K) planning, annuities, and investments. The San Francisco office is on Montgomery St and is headed up by a company star, Joe Cantanucci. Our office is blazing a trail for the rest of the company to follow. There are a number of Financial Advisors there who provide their clients with exceptional service. Everyone is a professional at the office and I love that collegial atmosphere. As far as the position is concerned, it’s a sales position and I’m being trained on their products and how the business runs as a whole. It’s a great way for me to get an inside look at the business and the organizational culture. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to work in the financial sector, which is where I want to be in the long run.
What are your short and long term work goals?
Short term, I want to make as much money as soon as possible, but then again, who doesn’t? Seriously, I want to come out of my MBA charging hard and hungry for a successful and satisfying career. I’m a risk taker, so I’m open to any business opportunities anywhere in the world, especially in the emerging markets. I like it here in California too, don’t get me wrong, but I’m going to go where I have the best chance to succeed. My passions lie in the stock market and real estate. I would love to work for a BlackRock, or a hedge fund, or even in private equity. I look at the stock market the same way I used to look at the battlefield, with data being disseminated daily, the same way that intelligence is disseminated to leaders, allowing them to strategize. All of this data helps us to better inform ourselves in our decision making process, and ultimately these decisions lead to our success or demise. Long term, I want to have my own operation. I want to manage my own investment portfolio from anywhere in the world and I look forward to being a philanthropist.
Any last comments about how to stay Booyah in school?
Remember that it’s all worth it in the end: the time, the money, the sacrifice. It’ll all pay off. Just remember to have as much fun as you can and try to enjoy the learning process. Learning is fun. These years will set you up for success for the rest of your life. This last part is extremely important and should always be remembered. People can take away your money, your possessions, and your freedom, but no one can ever take away your education.