As the managing director of investor relations and business development at WestCap, a startup private equity growth technology firm, Jennifer Wilcox (née Ricciardi) relies on her Fordham graduate studies in economics to create strategic partnerships with clients.
“What I like best about my role is educating people,” says Wilcox, who earned a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2005. “I take very complicated investment concepts and make them digestible for our investors to understand, educating them to our strategies, to our outlook on the markets, and how the markets are impacting our sector and our investments.”
Fordham’s Impact at Each Step of Career Path
After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and Spanish studies from Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1997, Wilcox joined the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as an analyst—an opportunity she pursued when a recruiter from the Fed visited campus. In 2000, she landed another job from a Fordham event, this time as an analyst in Societe Generale’s investment banking unit, Cowen, thanks to an alumni networking night.
Two years later, Wilcox took stock of her career options, feeling somewhat conflicted about whether to stay on the finance side or return to a focus on economic policy. She reached out to one of her former Fordham professors, Darryl McLeod, Ph.D., to ask about the master’s program in economics, and he encouraged her to apply. At the same time, Wilcox also started a job at a hedge fund, Ore Hill Partners. While working full time as an analyst, she completed her studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, supplementing her economics coursework with finance electives at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business.
That combination set the stage for Wilcox to move into investor relations, a role that requires a deep understanding of investment strategies and a high degree of marketing skill. In 2009, she got such a job at GSO Capital Partners (now Blackstone Credit), the credit investment arm of the Blackstone Group.
“I knew about marketing and investor relations because I worked at a hedge fund on the investments side,” Wilcox says, “but Blackstone was recruiting me because they liked my financial background and I could speak with investors about the investments that the firm was making in an educated way.
“The theorical coursework I engaged in throughout my M.A. provided a sound foundation for understanding the drivers of markets from a macro perspective and decisions made by firms to run their businesses from a micro perspective,” she adds.
Now at WestCap since September 2021, Wilcox is putting all her experience into helping the startup grow by instituting investor relations best practices, expanding the firm’s institutional investor base, and strategizing on business development.
The Importance of Networking and Mentorship
In addition to her successful career, Wilcox also serves as an alumni mentor through Fordham’s Office of Alumni Relations, helping current students with their resumes, providing career advice, and guiding them through the processes of networking and interviewing for positions.
That desire to help others is something Wilcox exhibited as a student, when she volunteered as a mentor at local Bronx schools. In fact, she says that along with the access to internships in New York City, being able to engage with the neighboring community was one of the things that first drew her to Fordham as an undergraduate.
“All of those volunteer opportunities that were afforded and being in such a diverse community … was a really influential part of my experience,” Wilcox says.
She also found a strong sense of community on campus, where she made strong friendships in addition to building professional skills and knowledge. When she talks to current students, Wilcox tells them that her best piece of advice is to network with alumni, professors, and fellow students.
“Be persistent and don’t let those connections fade,” she says. “Fordham has an extremely strong alumni network, and one that is willing to help others advance their careers. Aside from the knowledge gained from one’s studies, it is the most important aspect of going to graduate school, no matter what the career path.”