2014 in Review: Setting the Stage for Real Life

As a 13 year old I abandoned my dreams of managing Manchester United, instead aspiring to emulate my parents by entering the world of business. In October 2014, I signed a three year contract to work at J.P.Morgan’s Investment Bank in New York City.

2014 has been a year of big, life-changing choices, but in many ways it feels as though the decisions made were predestined. Ironically bookended by two amazing tech startup events, my year has been dominated by the decision to start my career in the world of Finance  over the startup world. I could not be more excited.

Finance Ross

Startup Ross

The year’s main events can be broadly categorized into four categories, each of which I recall fondly for varying reasons: Finance, Startups, The Bronx and Travel & mind-broadening experiences.

Finance

A decision in March to reject an enterprise sales position at Google in favor of J.P.Morgan proved the pivotal turning point in 2014 (and the next few years to come), but this decision only marked the beginning of a year in which I finally embraced Finance after a semi-rebellious three years in which I considered myself more Warby-Parker wearing “Hustler” than Pin-Stripe suit donning “Financier”. An interest that had been piqued during a November 2013 Investment Banking Risk Case Competition was nurtured by my morning dose of Squawk On The Street’s Jim Kramer, and fueled by Michael Gatto’s Distressed Debt class, hands down the best class Fordham has offered me.

I  accepted my internship offer at J.P.M., concerned about my capacity to work 80 hour weeks, but ultimately I was so engrossed with the work I was doing and the team I was working with that the days flew by, and I quickly grew proud of my work family – a connection and satisfaction I hadn’t felt at any other work experiences. The feeling was mutual, and on August 1st I received my full-time offer, celebrating with an open bar on the 52nd floor at the pinnacle of J.P.Morgan’s 270 Park Avenue headquarters, on a hazy summer afternoon I will not forget for a while.

2014-08-01 10.58.50

The Fall brought about another new Finance experience as the Technology, Media and Telecom analyst in Fordham’s Student Managed Investment Fund. Managing a $1.3mm portfolio turned out to be far more sophisticated and engaging than I had ever imagined, with our investment theses being continually evaluated and challenged in what turned out to be a rather tumultuous semester for the markets. My stock pick, Salesforce.com (CRM) has kept me at my wits end, but at the time of writing it stands 8% up since purchase. In 2015 I will be one of the portfolio’s Managing Directors, a challenge I will relish in a market environment of all time records for stock indicies and a bond market potentially at the end of its 30 year bull run.

Startups

Despite my commitment to Finance, I managed to maintain a decent involvement with the Fordham (and to a lesser extent, NYC) startup community. The year started with a bang with the first Bronx 3 Day Startup, organized by Andrew Kingley’s Concourse Group. I let myself down in my capacity as the Regional Director for the Compass Fellowship, failing to capitalize upon the momentum established following the bootcamp in the Fall of 2013. Despite a successful talk and leads for new chapters established at the Ashoka Changemaker Conference in Providence, I was unable to convert some of the ground work into real successes. I organized a second successful bootcamp in the Fall of 2014, and will make it one of my main goals for 2015 to ensure the NYC Compass region is well placed for the future as Compass enters a new chapter under the leadership of Rebecca Ballard.

Presenting to 60 bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Compass Fellows

Presenting to 60 bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Compass Fellows

The highlight of my year in startups, however, was the Local Hack Day at Fordham hosted at the Foundry in December. An incredible day in which I truly began to believe in the future of entrepreneurship and startups at Fordham. I was part of the winning team for Flarity – a Tinder for volunteers and charities. While the idea was mine, the execution was entirely down to two talented Comp Sci majors, Reed Garvin and Alex Keyes.

BXNY: The Bronx Does It Better

After 3 years of enjoying the Bronx without giving much back, I finally stepped up to the challenge of proving that The Bronx really does do it better. Check out the website here, and some of the pictures from our launch party here. Subsequently, BXNY became an activist group in supporting the Green Bronx Machine’s Indiegogo campaign, organizing The Bronx Brussel Hustle. I was proud of all the work I put into these campaigns, but I will take away lessons regarding the importance of engaging key community influencers for any future event: we were so close to going truly viral but never quite achieved critical mass.

Travel

Key Largo, Beijing, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ann Arbor, Zermatt. A rather incredible year for travel, and one I was very glad to share with the most important people in my life: KC, my family and some of my closest friends. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

1526959_10153989536415232_1601124118_n 10298733_10154221453425232_1429516424501101977_n 10410721_10152234353006137_3568741812882591313_n 10297776_10152234325086137_4918183184415477361_n 10405433_10154440761470346_998697832862082910_n 2014-08-12 14.25.16 2014-08-13 10.10.44 2014-08-20 20.57.25 2014-08-23 11.09.15 2014-08-23 16.02.42 10411796_949863338361201_3594004216703502798_n 2014-09-27 17.00.23

Other

  • Celebrated 3 very happy years with KC.
  • Put on a whole load of weight that I am now trying to shed.
  • Read some incredible books – Asimov’s Foundation Series, J.K. Rowling’s first two gripping Strike Cormoran novels, Jacqueline Novogratz’s The Blue Sweater, and Jarod Lanier’s Who Owns The Future.
  • Won the “Hudson Valley Trophy” with a Fordham Squash Team that completed its first winning season (over a 0.500 record) in 20+ years.
  • Wrote 16 blog posts including this one about Dropbox, and this one about The Future Of Travel of which I am particularly proud.

2015

So how about some goals for 2015?

  • Running a minimum of two half marathons – both in under two hours.
  • Successfully graduating.
  • Leaving a legacy and a platform for growth in the Fordham startup scene and Compass NYC region,
  • Starting a successful start to my career at J.P. Morgan.
  • Being the best boyfriend, son and friend I can be. I vow to learn from past mistakes and become a better person as a result.

Wishing the happiest New Year to all of you,

Until Next Time!

Ross

Rambler-in-Chief

One Comment on “2014 in Review: Setting the Stage for Real Life

  1. Pingback: A Year in Review: 2016, The One Where I Ran A Lot | rossrambles

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