Young Bulls In The City

Some young alumni of the College of Business have ventured to New York City to try their luck in the Big Apple.

Photos by Anthony Morrison

Special to USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2013) – New York City: It’s one of the great cities of the world, the epicenter of the American Dream. But with its fast-paced lifestyle and high cost of living, it also has a reputation for chewing newcomers up and spitting them out. As the saying goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Some young alumni of the College of Business have ventured to New York City to try their luck in the Big Apple – with impressive results. Whether advertising, marketing, sales, finance, media, or analytics, these Business Bulls are making their mark on their chosen industry.

Sunny Bokhari, ‘12

Sunny Bokhari said her time at USF, where she juggled her pursuit of both an MS in Finance and an MBA with leadership in student organizations and a part-time job, helped her prepare for her current role at Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs, where she describes the corporate culture as “everybody loves to work.”

“It’s everything I always wanted to do,” she said. “I’m really happy.”

As a financial analyst in the controller’s department of the investment management division, she is unable to talk about the specifics of her job, but said she is generally doing mutual funds performance management. A native of Pakistan, Bokhari said she enjoys the melting-pot qualities of the big city, and the beauty of the Hudson River at night.

For students looking to prepare for a fast-paced job at a top firm like Goldman Sachs, Bokhari said she would advise them to make good grades, but to be involved outside of the classroom and take advantage of opportunities.

“At the end of the day, your GPA is just a number,” she said. “You could be a 4.0 student, but you have to show yourself as a well-rounded person, a leader who knows what you’re doing.”

Kristen Keese, '12

Kristen Keese said living in the Bulls Business Community helped her set her sights high with the help of her BBC advisor.

“I would change my mind every two weeks, and she would help me figure out what I could do to make whatever my dream was that week a reality,” she said.

As graduation approached, Keese’s dream had crystallized into a desire to work in the media industry. When she met a Nielsen recruiter at a USF networking event, the company’s culture and job opportunities seemed like a good fit with her skills as a marketing student, she said.

Keese kept in touch with the recruiter and spoke to people within the company. And when a job opened up in the TV division of the New York City office, she knew it was the right opportunity for her. But none of that would have been possible had she not approached the Nielsen recruiter while at USF, she said.

“I think that’s probably the biggest key to tell business students: Talk to people,” she said.

Now at Nielsen for more than a year, Keese will be moving to Los Angeles shortly due to a promotion within the company.

“On my bucket list, I have live in New York and live in LA,” she said. “I’m really going to miss it here, but it was kind of the perfect opportunity for me to test it out.”

Anthony Morrison, '11

Although Anthony Morrison’s general business major (with a focus in information systems and management) doesn’t line up neatly his current career in media and photography, he credits his time at USF’s business school with helping him find his dream career.

Morrison said the classes and extracurricular experiences he gained at USF have helped him achieve what he wanted to in business, from entrepreneurial efforts to climbing the corporate career ladder.

“I’ve used the business fundamentals in my own photography business, being my own accountant and marketing and business manager,” he said. “USF empowered me to go after the things I’m really passionate about, but more so, USF gave me those resources to be empowered.”

After graduating from USF, he took a leap and moved to New York City without a job offer.

“I needed to do this for myself,” he said. “It was scary but really interesting how everything kind of found a place.”

Working in retail while job hunting, Morrison received an internship offer from Time Life, where he worked in the photo archives digitizing black-and-white film negatives. He built a New York client base for his photography business, and transitioned into a permanent contractor gig as a production assistant at ABC News. Recently, he accepted a job with CNN as a Production Assistant for their morning show New Day. Now, his days might consist of producing pieces for CNN or freelance photography work at New York Fashion Week. He said he would encourage students at USF to be risk-takers and see the big picture.

“Don’t be complacent with what you have,” he said. “Nothing is more important than what’s ahead in your life.”

Wilnelly Ortiz, '11

Working at Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by rapper and entrepreneur JAY Z, Nelly Ortiz is truly living in the “concrete jungle / where dreams are made of / there’s nothing you can’t do” (to reference JAY Z’s song, “Empire State of Mind”).

After graduating, Ortiz worked as an intern in Miami at Sony Music Latin, the label of stars such as Shakira and Marc Anthony. Although Sony Music Latin didn’t have any openings at the time, that experience led to a marketing assistant job at Columbia Records in New York City. Ortiz worked in Columbia Records’ marketing department, with a concentration in R&B and Urban projects, home to such artists as Beyonce, John Legend, J. Cole, Juicy J, and members of Odd Future.

“The job description was extremely administrative,” she said. “I went in knowing that that’s not my life.”

Working to turn her job toward one that fit more with her interests, Ortiz said she would get to work early each day and go up all three floors of her office building, greeting her coworkers by name. Networking was a skill she cultivated at USF, she said, by being involved in many extracurricular activities.

“Especially in the music industry, people were like, what, you’re here before 10 in the morning?” she said. “For someone to remember your name in this industry, that is a commodity.”

She said she thinks that go-getter attitude got her to her current position at Roc Nation, marketing across all platforms at the company; label, management, and the newest addition, Roc Nation Sports.

“I was prepared, but I’m still learning every day,” she said.

Jacri Stubbs, '12

Jacri Stubbs always dreamed of moving to New York, but it took flexibility and networking to get there for the Miami native.

He had his sights set on Madison Avenue, but as graduation came and went, he didn’t see a clear path to get there. He decided to pursue advertising through a growing field: healthcare. An internship at Grey Healthcare Group’s advertising division turned into a freelance job, which turned into a full-time offer.

“I had to take a step back and evaluate where my strengths lie and how I could weasel into advertising,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs, who is the first in his family to graduate from college, said College of Business efforts such as the Corporate Mentor Program were key to his success.

“USF most definitely prepared me in the manner of professional development,” Stubbs said. “Yes, the classes were amazing, yes the professors and faculty were great. But the classes in regard to résumé preparation, email etiquette; all the brainstorming sessions, all the fun things we did, were the real deal. What sets me apart and consistently does so is my manner of speaking with people -- my openness -- and USF truly broke me out of that shell.”

He said he keeps in close contact with other USF Bulls who have moved to the city and made a name for themselves and USF.

“I think everyone else feels that same vibe,” he said. “When you see someone who’s a USF Business Bull, you know, we made it.”

Michael Tomaino, '13

As Michael Tomaino was graduating this spring, he sent an email to a USF alumnus he had never met who worked on Wall Street. Tomaino asked how he got to that point in his career, and the alumnus asked him to send along a resume, which in turn was forwarded to the Deutsche Bank recruitment team.

Tomaino was initially offered a job with Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville, Fla. Given that Tomaino was interested in covering the financial institutions industry, Deutsche Bank relocated him to New York.

“Most of the jobs up here, the prerequisite to having somebody talk to you is having a record of achievement inside and outside the classroom,” Tomaino said. “Then, once you have that in place, it’s about meeting people and building relationships.”

Tomaino, as an investment banking analyst for the bank, does some of the analysis and research that is used to support senior staff members. Even though he’s in a finance job, Tomaino said his accounting degree serves him well on a daily basis. Knowing how to read a the different financial statements and understand what the numbers imply is essential to establishing a valuation for a company, he said.

“An investment banker needs to understand the accounting better than the accountants,” he said.

Although he works long hours and in a high-pressure environment, Tomaino says he loves that he is never bored.

“It changes from day to day,” Tomaino said. “There’s no such thing as monotony.”

Nate Collins, '10

Graduating in 2010 with a marketing degree, Nate Collins’ path to the Big Apple was a winding one. Collins, who had served as an intern with USF Athletics throughout college, accepted an internship offer with the Tampa Bay Rays after graduation. That started him on a whirlwind career path that has taken him, within three years, to the New York Yankees ticket sales department.

Collins has worked for five sports organizations in four cities post-graduation: the Rays, a Kansas City soccer nonprofit organization, Major League Soccer in Minnesota, Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, and the New York Yankees, where he now works as an account executive.

“Sports is a relatively small circle,” he said, reflecting on his team-to-team moves. “The Yankees called, and that’s obviously a call that you’ve got to take.”

He said New York and his career trajectory are a continuation of his life pattern; his father worked for the U.S. Navy, so his family was constantly moving worldwide. The adaptability he learned has served him well in the big city.

“One of the coolest things about New York is that it feels different every day,” Collins said. “It’s so large and massive that every day is completely different, plus, you just never know what you’re going to run into or who’s in town.”

Throughout his moves from city to city, USF has helped him form connections and kept him grounded. He started a USF alumni chapter in Kansas City and is already serving as vice chair of the New York City alumni group. He also credits the diversity he encountered at USF with expanding his perspective and helping him succeed in the business world.

“As a university overall, diversity is one of the ways USF has continued to prepare me,” he said.

Hilary Lehman can be reached at 813-974-2479