New Book: How MBAs Can Excel on Wall Street

Meade presenting at a high school

P&Q: Since the Great Recession, fewer MBAs are going into finance. What are they missing?

MM: By not going into finance, I feel like they are missing a lot. For me, finance has been an incredible career path. It opens up a lot of doors as far as hard skills. I started off in sales. What piqued my interest when I started was interacting with clients, building pitch books, and learning the business. Working in the capital markets area, the markets change daily so it was never the same thing twice. That was extremely fascinating to me.

Not working in finance, you may not genuinely get that experience. Industries like tech and consulting are a good place to start too. From my perspective, within finance, there are so many different aspects to it. You don’t have to just do banking. You can do wealth management or risk management. You can do tech within finance as well; my team has done several tech projects. We have a strategy group within the firm that pretty much acts as a consulting team. These career paths within finance organizations are infinite. You’re just in it in a different way. I mean, tech is extremely important just to business in general. As businesses are changing, firms are doing extremely big digital transformations to stay ahead of the curve. It’s needed more than ever within the finance industry and it’s happening very rapidly.

P&Q: Finance often requires punishing 70-80 hour work weeks. Why are long hours so necessary in finance?

MM: 70-80 work weeks can be difficult to start off. I did it as an analyst myself. Currently, I make sure my team does not do that. I feel like, if we do that, I am doing something wrong as a manager. Either we have to increase efficiency or make sure we’re working off pipeline very quickly. Starting off, it was tough at times. The main thing is that you have to have the passion and drive for it. If you do it and you’re fresh out of school, I think it is a great experience. There is no place that I can think of where you can learn that much that quickly than finance.

Let’s say you do two years as an analyst. You are doing a 70-80 hour work week, but you’re learning a lot of extremely good stuff…and you’re learning from a lot of seasoned professionals too. That’s a huge knowledge base. Then if you look at it like, ‘I’ll do this for a few years and then go do something else or go back to b-school’ – that knowledge is transferable anywhere. I still use my capital markets experience as far as relationship management, networking, building books and presentations. A lot of what I was doing in the past, I was doing it because I enjoyed it and it was very, very fascinating. Now, I use all of those skills today.

Starting off your career, you want to be a sponge – pick up as much as you can learn. I think that’s the best way to get yourself acclimated to different parts of the firm. Meet different people: grab a coffee and learn what people are doing. Talk to your analyst peers. You’re going to have trained with different analyst groups. You’ll want to keep in contact with them, as everyone is growing and learning. That way, you’ll have people to talk to about how their experience is as well. It is important to have that network and team that is doing something similar where you can share like-minded thoughts.

P&Q: What makes JP Morgan a special place to work?

MM: JP Morgan is an incredible firm because the leadership here is remarkable. It is a really collaborative culture. Also, the firm performs extremely well but always looks to improve and get better. At JP Morgan, you will be challenged for sure in your career Also, you’re going to work with the best and the brightest in the industry.

P&Q: What inspired you to pursue an MBA at NYU Stern?

MM: I’ve been in the business 14 or so years now and it has transformed a lot. I wanted that school-practical perspective on learning as well as the firm perspective so I could integrate it together and add more value to my team. I also wanted to network with people from all around the world. The network, increasing knowledge, and learning innovation in a school setting has been really helpful. I already do it at the firm, but mixing in the school setting with the analytics and innovation has been awesome.

I recently came back from Abu Dhabi during our global study tour. It was phenomenal meeting people from the United Arab Emirates. We got to go into the businesses, listen to speakers and watch presentations, and then see how they do business. It was a life-changing experience. We visited several firms there – firms within technology, media, finance – and it was great to see the different team cultures. We were also able to visit the actual country and do some site seeing. We visited the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. We went to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It was nice to see the country and meet business people. We also met a lot of Stern grads and had a night out with the alumni.

We had one entrepreneurial panel that was really fascinating – talking about how these businesses are thriving within the UAE, building a business from the ground up. There were some similarities to the US, but it was definitely good to go there and look at the differences along with the ways the businesses are evolving over time. A big focus of the UAE has been oil. Now, they are trying to expand into different industries. They are looking at building technology startups and investing in private equity and startup finance companies. They’re investing in media to bring more people into the UAE. It was such a great trip and I grew closer to my classmates as well.

Matthew Meade

P&Q: What has been your biggest takeaway from being an MBA student?

MM: The biggest lesson is I’ve learned in the executive MBA is that we have four types of power:

Positional – Your position at a firm.

Expert – How good you are at your job or credentials such as an MBA certification.

Reference – How others see you.

Network – How much we network with other people to create opportunities.

With these four aspects of power, you could use them all at once to be who you’re supposed to be.  Sometimes, you don’t have all four aspects of power at the same time. It is important to seek them out and use them to empower yourself and other people. This was my biggest lesson, which I learned in a class called Power and Politics.

Within my job, network power is very important. I like to introduce people to other people. I like to grab coffee with a lot of people. Now, within a COVID environment, it is different. People aren’t traveling as much. It is easier to reach out to someone and catch up over Zoom or Google Meet. Also, Expert power has been very important. Now doing my executive MBA, I am focused on growing as an expert in the field and growing my portfolio.

Another big lesson was that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are happening very, very quickly; a lot of jobs that require human interface are going to be going away soon. That was part of a Leadership and Organizations course and it got our cohort into some really interesting conversations.

The courseload I am taking now – analytics, leadership, and strategy – has been very, very helpful. Also, change management is important. Industries are changing very rapidly. I think having that skill set has been very vital in terms of building out teams and also adapting to situations we don’t anticipate such as COVID.

P&Q: You’ve talked about helping out the next generation. Give me a success story of someone you’ve helped

MM: Today, I talked to one of the recipients of my scholarship. I have a scholarship called the Matthew C. Meade Scholarship. I do it through my high school, Columbia High School Scholarship Fund. Each year, I give a scholarship to a student to attend college.

Within that, it is important to give back to others. Also, I was in the same program when I was going to college. It was very, very helpful for me. I wanted to make sure I gave back. With that, I was talking to the recipient earlier today and he is thinking about his major. We talked a lot about what’s going on in the industry and the finance and business classes he should take. We talked about how things are evolving and what might be most useful for him to take. When I was in that predicament, back when I was taking classes, I knew I wanted to do business. However, I didn’t know what courses I should take opposed to other courses. I think the conversation was helpful for him and it was good to be able to share that knowledge as far as changes and developments in the business and what might add value longer-term.

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences because I’ve been able to provide opportunities for others.

P&Q: What is your long-term goal? How will the principles in your book help you achieve that?

MM: My long-term goal is to be a c-suite executive. One principle involving that is, You Are the CEO Of Your Own Life. It is very important for you to manage your career. Sometimes, we get into roles, get comfortable, and we don’t manage our own careers. When it comes down to it, you manage your own life.

Another principle is, Embracing The Audacity To Be Authentically You. There is nothing better than being your authentic self all the time. There is no reason to be someone who is not you because no one else can be you better than you. People know when you’re not authentic.

Another important principle is, Master Your Own Craft. Put in the work to be who you actually want to be. There are some people who say I want to do this or that. Are you going to put the work in to do that? That’s the most important thing. Doors will open up for you as long as you are mastering your craft, trying to get better, you’re respectful of people, you’re humble, you’re learning and applying what you learn to grow within your career. Good word comes from good work. If people are telling me Matt is doing a real good job on my team and maybe I have a role opening up, I’ll be thinking that Matt would be a good fit for that role. As long as you are a team player who puts your best foot forward, works hard, and is respectful of people, doors will certainly open up.

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