When it comes to business, New York City is where the world meets. Global headquarters, stock exchanges, big banks and countless opportunities draw some of the world’s finest financial minds.
In the past few years, the College of Business’ Career Management Services began to introduce small groups of students to New York through company visits and tours.
The effort, and its potential to change lives, attracted the attention of Eric (BBA ’86) and Sandi (BS ’89) Maldonado, two successful FIU alumni who are now based in New York. The trip has evolved into the Global Scholars Program, an ambitious introduction to the elements of career success in a global business capital.
Eric is a graduate of the College of Business, an FIU Business Hall of Fame inductee and a successful New York businessman. Sandi, an alumnus of the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, has a strong track record as a successful home decor entrepreneur.
Determined to reinforce a culture of success, they decided to fund travel costs for ten outstanding business students whose academic and professional records demonstrated strong potential for successful careers.
“In addition to creating a positive experience for students,” said Eric Maldonado BBA ‘86, “we wanted to help them realize the power of the FIU alumni network, which they will be part of going forward.”
The first Global Scholars Program took place in April 2016. Ten students, chosen from a group of over 150 applicants, arrived in New York accompanied by John Nykolaiszyn, interim director of Career Management Services, and Acting Dean Jose Aldrich. At sessions prior to the trip, Nykolaiszyn coached students on company research and prepared them for everything from the frenetic pace of New York (look everywhere) to the rigors of subway travel (wear comfortable shoes and change to high heels in the lobby).
The Maldonados also saw the potential for long-lasting, far-reaching goals.
“What motivated us was the desire to increase the awareness of opportunities in New York City for graduating FIU business students,” Eric Maldonado said. “We also wanted to give students real visibility to world-class businesses, to help them make their career goals more tangible.”
It was a whirlwind tour of a diverse set of companies that help drive the New York economy: The Related Group, L’oreal, banking giants Citi and BNY Mellon, BlackRock, the mutual fund leader, NASDAQ, and Markit.
Students received career insights and guidance from top-level executives, including BlackRock President Rob Kapito and Leo Growhowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management.
They received warm welcomes from FIU Business alumni who shared tips and New York experiences. Business Alumni board member Barbara Pestana (BBA ’02), a L’oreal executive, introduced them to colleagues from several areas and shared her experience of rising through the many divisions of the global beauty products leader. At BlackRock, they engaged with Randy Robertson (BBA ’84), a high-level BlackRock executive and FIU Hall of Fame inductee, and Suyen Fernandez (BBA ’14), a first-year analyst and former New York Global Scholar, who had stood in their shoes just the year before. Two FIU supporters gave them an inside look at BNY Mellon: Alumna and Dean’s Council member Lillian Peters (BBA ’94), senior wealth director in Miami, and FIU supporter Gloria Zaldivar, senior director, portfolio management.
A highlight of the trip was a visit to Markit, where students had the opportunity to meet with Eric Maldonado, who gave them an insight into the process of building a career, as well as a look at the work of Markit. Maldonado’s division builds, designs and hosts front end interfaces for some of the world’s leading financial companies.
Maldando shared his story, from his days as a new FIU grad who started out selling copiers in Little Havana, to his successful New York career path. He emphasized the importance of drive and intellectual curiosity, getting to the office early and providing greater value to the customer. Maldonado also educated students on the importance of FinTech, the intersection of finance and technology that will drive a huge sector of the economy going forward.
At the conclusion of the corporate visits, students had the opportunity to mingle with alumni, including Sandi Maldonado, at the Worlds Ahead reception.
For the ten students on the trip, the experience was a revelation. Most had never been to New York City; a couple had never been on an airplane. Each student left New York fascinated with the pulse and opportunity of the city, and determined to spend at least part of their career there. The trip also launched networking relationships that students hope to build into internship and jobs.
“The feedback from the first class was very, very, positive,” Maldonado said. “More than a few of the students indicated that it was an eye opening, life changing experience.”
“The lasting impact we want to achieve,” he added, “is the opportunity for great jobs, at great companies in NYC, and amplification of the FIU network within these great companies.”
The second Global Scholars Program will take place in September.