Nov. 6, 2014

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A career on Wall Street certainly isn’t for everyone.

University of Notre Dame men’s tennis senior Dougie Barnard wasn’t sure where he would like to land after graduation. Life in the financial industry seemed like a possibility, but not necessarily an inevitability. But thanks to a recent networking trip organized by a group of men’s tennis alumni, the future looks at little more clear for Barnard and several of his teammates.

Over fall break, eight men’s tennis players – sophomores Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi; juniors Quentin Monaghan, Eric Schnurrenberger, Alex Lawson and Nicolas Montoya; and seniors Barnard and Michael Fredericka – travelled to New York City for a whirlwind tour of the Financial District. The Irish contingent – most, but not all, enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business – visited six major financial firms, each represented by a former Notre Dame tennis player.

“It was great to go with the team because I think it gave us more team chemistry being there and also appreciating Notre Dame tennis history and getting to meet some former players who are now successful,” Barnard said. “It kind of gives us something to aim towards in terms of career aspirations, what it looks like to be successful and to incorporate athletics into whatever we choose to do as a profession.”

The idea blossomed in the summer when the University hosted a dinner featuring Notre Dame athletics on Wall Street. Ashok Raju (’01), who was in attendance, heard from men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan, who had been organizing similar trips for his team, and suggested a similar networking opportunity to head coach Ryan Sachire.

Raju, now Managing Director/Head of Business Development at VR Capital Group, organized other tennis alums willing to help and arranged an itinerary for the mid-semester break.

“It was overwhelmingly positive,” Raju said of the response he received when reaching out to other tennis alums in New York. “I was pleased and touched and I know ââ’¬¦ [Sachire] was pleased [at the welcome from their hosts]. We were all excited to help and for [this trip] to be an intimate part of their experience at Notre Dame.”

The experience gave the student-athletes a clear view into what a career in the financial services industry looked like. In addition to hearing from executives in a wide range of specialties, they also had the opportunity to hear from younger and older alums alike. For the younger student-athletes, they got their first taste of networking and an idea of the steps they should begin taking to smooth the transition from college to career.

“I’m a junior, so I have to think about [my career goals] a lot now,” Montoya said. “I definitely want to get into the investing world when I get out of college. I just feel like there’s so much to learn and so much excitement and cool things going on. In terms of what side, whether I want to do sales and trading or want to be more on the buy side, that’s kind of what I’m in the process of [deciding] right now.”

In addition to their visit with Raju, the Irish also met James Bass (’05), VP of Equity Derivatives Sales at Credit Suisse; John O’Brien (’96), Managing Director/Head of Derivatives Flow Sales at Deutsche Bank; Paul Hidaka (’04), VP of Electronic Trading at JPMorgan Chase; Walter Dolhare (’90), Managing Director, Co-Head of Markets Division at Wells Fargo; and Luke Warford (’01), Chief Operating Officer at Bridger Management.

According to Raju, each were impressed with the composure of the student-athletes in that professional setting.

“They were great. I received feedback – and I had the feeling as well – that they were enthusiastic, inquisitive, genuinely interested in learning and getting good advice and it was wonderful to see.”

Sachire praised the network that his student-athletes have available to them, not only for organizing such a valuable learning experience for them, but for actively working to forge connections between the current and former Irish cohorts.

“Our players are really lucky to have connections like they do,” Sachire said. “Our program, dating back [before] even Coach [Bobby] Bayliss, has produced some really successful people working in the financial industry. ââ’¬¦ I think having those connections, having those networking opportunities and ultimately learning how those alums worked their way up through the system to find themselves in the position they’re in now was a tremendous learning opportunity. I know the relationships that were formed were relationships that can last for a long, long time.”

And if the pace of Wall Street seemed daunting before, now it just seems like a challenge not unlike any other the Irish have take on as students and athletes at the Division I level.

“I wasn’t leaning toward working in corporate finance before the trip, but afterwards I’m certainly considering it, just because it seems like a profession that might appeal to my personality and character traits,” Barnard said. “I think being a student-athlete really helps you be successful on Wall Street and in investment banking, you’re working terribly long hours and the student-athlete life at Notre Dame requires time management and a strong work ethic.”

By Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant