Daniel Sawyer won’t have to worry about what to do with the bachelor’s degree he will receive at the Gabelli School of Business diploma ceremony.
With an offer from Barclays to begin working in its investment banking division in July, Sawyer’s biggest concern is how to take some time off before jumping feet first into the world of finance.
It will be a well-earned break, though. Sawyer earned a degree in accounting as part of the global business honors program, which afforded him opportunities to study in London, Paris, Dublin, Buenos Aires and Beijing.
“I liked the idea of being in a competitive program, where everyone around you is driving to work hard,” he said. “Also, a lot of graduate professors taught our classes, so we got to understand the materials from a unique perspective.”
In addition to class work, he was part of a team that researched underwriting structure and formation in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies and held internships at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
He said his junior year was the most difficult, and was the only time he had any doubts about his academic plan. To be eligible for New York state’s CPA exam, he needed 150 credits of accounting coursework. That meant stretching his time in school to a fifth year, or taking six classes that fall and seven in the spring while simultaneously interning at Goldman. He chose the latter.
“Everything was all work, all the time. It got pretty intense, and at times I wasn’t doing as much as I could with some of the groups, which I felt bad about. That was probably the most difficult part of my experience here,” he said.
“But it also taught me that even with a very difficult schedule, I was able to do well. Actually, those are the only two semesters I got straight As. I don’t know what it was about managing time, but it was a lot easier when I didn’t have any.”
Sawyer said he knew he was in the right place when he sat down for his first class—Global Business Readings.
“We looked at Coca-Cola, we looked at Google and we looked at L.L. Bean. We looked at their business models and we had very high-level strategy discussions. We’d sit at a table with a professor and all 16 of us would throw out ideas about what each company was doing—what was good, what was bad and how the business world worked,” he said.
He also credited Jacqueline Wise, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance at the Gabelli School, with mentoring him.
“She was the first person who really talked to me one-on-one about what I wanted to do and what my goals were, and even offered to write letters of recommendation for me,” he said. “And she only knew me from one class.”