When 12 B&E finance students enrolled in the inaugural Applied Investment Management course, they had no idea it would take them to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
“Watching my students learn in this way and in this environment was emotional. All of those years of teaching students about all of these concepts in a classroom came to life before my eyes,” said Dr. Naomi Boyd, finance chair and associate professor. “As we walked away from the exchange, I was overtaken with pride for these incredible students. Three days prior, six of them had ridden in a cab for the first time, and I had just witnessed them holding their own on the floor of the NYSE.”
The road to Wall Street all started with Boyd’s mission to create a student managed investment fund. She proposed the idea to Javier Reyes, B&E Milan Puskar Dean, who had outlined his own plan to evolve the business school’s philosophy to one centered on experiential learning.
Boyd worked with 1970 finance alumnus Fred Tattersall, who rallied nine friends and B&E graduates to form The Founder’s Club. Club members donated a total of $250,000 for the student managed investment fund to give students opportunities to experience real financial markets and investment portfolio management.
But then the idea got even bigger.
After a presentation to the B&E Visiting Committee on the new student managed investment fund, Boyd and member Penni Roll started discussing the need for B&E students to have a more direct pipeline to Wall Street. With encouragement and approval from Reyes, Boyd arranged a trip for 12 students to the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. (Global Asset Management Education) Forum, an annual applied investment conference held in New York City for students from around the world. The plan was off and running and Boyd reached out to Roll, who works as chief financial officer of Ares Capital in New York City.
“Penni reached out to her friends and colleagues and a plan began to take shape that would allow students to have access to investment bankers, trading floors, traders and more,” said Boyd. “It became apparent that this trip was going to set a new standard, but I really had no idea how fantastic it would become.”
The trip to New York included meetings with Roll, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. Forum with 1,500 other students from 44 countries. It culminated on Friday, April 7, with a walk — a surprise walk — to the NYSE.
“Penni and I agreed that we wouldn’t tell the students until we were standing on Wall Street,” said Boyd. “We were given a guided tour of some of the interior rooms of the NYSE and a lesson on the historical significance of the rooms. The students were excited to be on the inside of the building they had only learned about in their textbooks, but nothing could prepare them for what would happen once we stepped onto the trading floor of the NYSE.
“It was opening day for Major League Baseball and as we stood under the opening bell watching the baseball commissioner ring the bell, we became a part of something so special and exciting. It is a feeling I will never forget.”
Moments later, as the group turned around to snap a picture with the WVU flag, a voice shouted from one of the specialist trading desks, “I am a Mountaineer!” With shock and amazement, the group met Glenn Carell, a B&E finance graduate and director of floor operations at the NYSE. He immediately engaged with the students, and that engagement seemed to set into motion a whirlwind of activity.
Peter Costa, a governor of the NYSE and president of Empire Solutions, noticed the group and stopped to talk. Moments later, NYSE President Tom Farley appeared and shared how he ended up in his position at such a young age. Now 38, he had been appointed at age 35 and was the second-youngest NYSE president ever.
“The students learned about hard work, determination, skill and above all else that in order to succeed on Wall Street, you had to be a good person. Trust was the key ingredient for success in an industry known for being cut-throat and competitive,” Boyd said. “That was a good message that had been repeated throughout our entire trip, from the president of the NYSE to investment bankers and traders at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.”
The students made their way around the floor of the NYSE, soaking in everything they could observe and learn. But learning wasn’t only limited to students. From the alumni who made the student fund possible to Tattersall and Roll, Boyd was deeply appreciative of the graduates who fueled the experience.
“It was without a doubt the single most profound day of my entire professional career,” she said. “I came back to Morgantown with a renewed sense of Mountaineer spirit and pride. I never wanted to teach the same way again. And I won’t.”
Founder’s Club members include Tattersall, W. Marston “Marty” Becker, Doug Van Scoy, E.G. “Ken” Kendrick, Robert “Bob” Orders, Jr., Vince Anido, Jr., Phil Rosenthal, Penelope “Penni” Roll, Robert “Bob” Reynolds and Stuart “Stu” Robbins, each of whom provided a generous gift of $25,000 to initiate the student managed investment fund.