Stephen Clarke '86 recently met with UMass Economics majors to discuss his career path and how economics majors can break into the world of finance. Clarke is currently President at NextShares Solutions LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eaton Vance Corp. formed in 2011 to develop and commercialize NextShares. The event was organized through the SBS Office of Career and Professional Development, which hosts numerous career discussions and panels throughout the year.
Clarke grew up in Lynnfield Massachusetts, where his family owned and operated a printing company. He spent summers working for the family business and gaining employment experience, but realized he was interested in a career in finance. "I started reading the Wall Street Journal, and I became interested in the business side - and particularly the investment managment side - of finance," he told students.
After graduating, Clarke went to a career fair where he met representatives from Putnam Investments, a firm who was hiring students right out of college. They provided Clarke and others starting entry level jobs with training upon joining the company. "One lesson along the way is, if you're coming out of the business school, you're going to know business and finance and you're going to have skills that are directly transferrable into this workplace. If you're coming out of economics or almost any other liberal arts degree, you're going to have basic skills that can transfer to business, but the business is going to have to train you." In fact, many business recognize this, and valuing the education and skills that come with being a liberal arts major, will train new employees for jobs in their company.
Clarke also spoke about the value of mentorship. After leaving Putnam and joining Berkshire for a sales and marketing role, Clarke met more experienced colleagues who guided him in his work and taught him about the field. "If you can be with a company that's good at what they do and you can find someone in particular who can take you under their wing and mentor you along the way, that can be hugely helpful to anyone. It certainly was to me."
While admitting this may not be as true today as it was when he was rising in the ranks, Clarke saw that the many of the people in senior and executive level positions had an advanced degree. Realizing this may be a benefit or a necessity for him, he researched different MBA programs, the starting salaries of their graduates, and his student loan possibilities. He ended up attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the country's top tier MBA programs. Since getting his MBA, Clarke has held various roles, including Vice President of United Asset Management and Senior Vice President of Old Mutual Asset Management.
Clarke also urged students to take advantage of the resources available to students on campus. The SBS Office of Career and Professional Development, the SBS Advising Resource Center, and academic advisors can help students formulate their career and academic pathways, connect them to internship, job, and networking opportunities, hone application and interview skills, and much more.