Tag Archives: business@stevens

Phi Beta Lambda hosts John Schwall from IEX to discuss the financial world, hard work, and risk

Phi Beta Lambda hosts John Schwall from IEX to discuss the financial world, hard work, and risk

By Olivia Schreiber

This past Wednesday, the Stevens chapter of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) offered faculty and students the opportunity to hear John Schwall, Chief Operation Officer of Investors’ Exchange, speak about his experiences in finance world.

David Inga, Vice President of PBL, gave a quick introduction and soon gave Schwall the floor. Schwall graduated from Stevens in 1995, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Management and a Masters in Technology Management. He had come from a family of “humble beginnings,” raised in Staten Island family of several-generation firemen. Schwall had a rough beginning at Stevens, but eventually found something more of his “own speed.” By his senior year, he was the President of Gear and Triangle, served on the Honor Board, and was the President of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Schwall did not anticipate entering financial services for he had initially entered Stevens with the intent of receiving a degree in engineering. He commented that he “is always surprised to see the number of engineer majors ending up in financial services.”

After receiving his masters, Schwall began his first job as a Project Manager at Pershing, a company that specialized in transaction-based financial systems. After three years, he spent two years at Grant Thorton LLP as a supervising consultant before moving onto Bank of America.

Schwall’s time spent at Bank of America gave him insight regarding the financial world. As a Senior Technology Manager, he envisioned and managed the development and implementation of a “proprietary payments application for use across multiple lines of business.” Schwall recognized that there were many different types of students in the room, and did his best to describe the complex financial terms and concepts in an understandable way. “Essentially, I didn’t want this system to be restricted to payment. I wanted it to be a multi-use system.”

Bank of America soon purchased Merrill Lynch, a banking company, that helped “take the Equities Division of Bank of America global overnight.” Schwall served as a Director in Direct Market Access Technology and Transaction Cost Analysis, but soon felt that the company was moving in a different direction. At this time, Brad Katsuyama, founder and President of IEX, was taking over the electronic trading division at RBC Capital Markets and wanted John on his team.

Working closely with Katsuyama, Schwall found himself in the position to take a risk and start a new business that would represent investors with the goal of making the playing field for trading fairer. Schwall knew he was taking a big risk. “I was 42 with a wife and two young kids. I wasn’t fresh out of college, where working 20 hours a day isn’t abnormal.” Katsuyama and Schwall left RBC and from there, began building IEX from the ground up.

IEX is now on the forefront of the financial world, having been recognized by major investor groups. IEX rise to fame can be traced back to the publication of Michael Lewis’ Flashboys, a non-fiction book that focuses on the rise of High-Frequency Trading, which was released in March 2014. The book centers on Katsuyama and his team.

Schwall stated that IEX is now trying to become an official, regulated exchange in the United States. With that, IEX is going to need more team members to make that vision a reality. “We have a preference for engineers, and we’re actually looking for an intern for the summer.”

Schwall attributes his success to hard work and focus. He advised the students in the audience to “do what is best of your company, not what is best of your manager. Make a statement of how principal-oriented you are.”


Spending Senior Year with MTV


Blog post provided by Ann DeStefano ’12
Photos provided by Pavel Tamarin ’12 

Senior year of college can be stressful enough with finishing up your degree requirements. However for my Senior Design group this has been the best part of senior year as we our working over the course of two semesters with Viacom Networks, owner of MTV.

The MTV Senior Design group heading to Viacom headquarters NYC

Comprised of myself and classmates Joelle Rusin, Eric Yando, Anthony Roden, Haley Bayer, Sarah Byrne and Pavel Tamarin, the group is tackling the issue of interactive television engagement. Our client, Joe Lalley a Vice President at Viacom Networks, is  looking to integrate nearly 15 different Viacom networks including that of MTV, Comedy Central and Spike into one app for tablets and smartphones to engage users with live television events.

All seniors within the B&T program, are to complete a 2-semester long Business Consulting in Design curriculum where student groups pair up with an external client to address strategic business problems. The newly revamped curriculum offers more personalized attention and time with the professor as well as opportunities for feedback. Fellow group member and senior Joelle Rusin ’12 found these changes to be of great benefit.

“We are able to learn from each others’ projects and take a deeper dive into our own projects and concerns during our one-on-one meetings.”

So far the group has spent the semester researching what competitor networks like ESPN, ABC and NBC do to engage audiences mainly through applications and social media like Twitter. Some prototypes of possible applications have been created with features like roll overs, polls, interactive hosts and more. One idea the group had was to be able to watch the MTV VMA’s on your iPad using the application with a virtual host. This host would guide your way through the show. Also the user will have the ability to roll over celebrity outfits and see what designers they are wearing. Another feature could be switching your camera angles to see where different celebrities are sitting in the audience so, as a viewer, you could watch an awards show from multiple camera views.

Joelle notes, that this particular senior design project was a great opportunity, as the media industry is different than the internships many of us have previously held.

Getting ready for a presentation at MTV

“The opportunity to work in a different industry has perks as well. I never would have considered the possibilites of working outside the world of financial services without this first-hand experience. I think the opportunities within the new Senior Design structure are vast and students can really benefit from it.”

The business implications of our project could be very vast as well. This possible multi-brand application could increase viewership and potentially advertising revenues for MTV.

“Helping to increase MTV’s live viewership is extremely rewarding, especially when we see a large company like MTV executing our ideas,” Joelle adds.

Another interesting perk is that since we are working with Viacom, owner of Comedy Central, the group was able to go to a taping of “The Daily Show” with our client.

Not a bad way to spend senior year at Stevens!

A Morning at the NYSE with Mark Cuban!


Photos and blog post provided by Ann DeStefano, Business & Technology ’12

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend an event hosted by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and mtvU about inspiring young entrepreneurs to create their own futures. The event was based on the annual “Movers and Changers” contest which awards $25,000 in seed money to a winning, college oriented, idea. Being able to go was as simple as applying via e-mail to mtvU where my two friends and I were awarded front row seats to a panel featuring Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur, Alexandra Wilkis Wilkinson, founder of Gilt Groupe and Charlie Chanaratsopon, CEO of Charming Charlie.

Mark Cuban at the NYSE Panel

The event was moderated by CNBC’s Bill Griffith who I was able to snag a photo with afterwards! The event started out with a panel discussion where the rather infamous Mark Cuban discussed a fear of failure not even being an option in business. Interestingly enough, Cuban told of his first real failed idea which involved an evaporated milk business. Wilkinson told her story of starting the now famous Gilt Groupe and the challenges of building a business from the ground up. The Charming Charlie business is becoming a fast growing franchise expanding overseas centered around a one-stop shop retail presence.

The two groups of finalists hailed from UPenn – Wharton and Howard University. Coincidentally, I ended up sitting next to the winning group’s (UPenn) mother and brother. The idea, ‘SkillHub’ is an online platform for college students (and any groupof people in general) to share skills and talents through an online community.

Check out the video from the event streamed online as well as commentary from Mark Cuban and others!

Bon Voyage! Bonjour Paris!


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Blog post and photos provided by Krystal Perkins, Business & Technology ’13

Moving to Paris has been a whirlwind of adventure.   Studying abroad at the American University of Paris has engrossed me into a cultural melting pot of students of over 43 countries.  I can say hello in 20 languages now!

Previous to arriving in Paris, I wanted to take advantage of my European excursion so I decided to plan a 6 week backpacking trip around Turkey, Greece, Germany, Slovenia, and Croatia.  Last year I backpacked around eight countries of Europe in 2 months so I was ready to rough it. The way I travel is the cheapest way possible for the max amount of fun.  So in this case our accommodations consisted of Greek grandmother’s homes, beaches, tents, caves, hostels, hotels, and couch surfing.

Couch surfing is an online community of world travelers that provide accommodations in ones homes to other world travelers that want to engage in the local culture.  Not only do you get to leave the country a touristic experience but also with an international friend. I have met the most amazing people this way from scientists to engineers, and musicians.

Paris has been a charm. I lucked out with housing and get to wake up to a small view of the tip of the Eiffel Tower.  Living the Parisian life and enthralling myself into the culture of cuisine, nightlife, and fashion has been such a wonderful experience.  I love seeing the stereotypical Parisian hold a baguette in one hand and a newspaper in the other. People here are so friendly and the way of life is exceptionally different from America’s back home.

I find the different teaching styles the most intriguing.  Right now I am taking International Business, International Business Law, Entrepreneurship and Intensive Beginners French.   All of my professors are of European decent and I can see their cultural background expressed through how they teach to the class.  For example in my international business class, the professor teaches more of the philosophy of culture and how this philosophy interacts with business transactions and globalization.

As for my other classes we compare the general view of American individualism versus socialistic views and how other countries in the European Union work with each other. I personally relate to these classes more because we study different efficient processes and ways of thinking. My learning experiences as well as my social interactions in the classroom have been a rewarding experience.

So basically, I love Paris.

Céad míle fáilte! Stevens goes to Ireland!


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Blog post and photos provided by Kelsey Reynolds, Business & Technology ’12

There is no better way to describe the Irish people than with this saying, which means “100,000 welcomes”.   From our first time stepping onto the AirCoach (or Blue Bus as the locals call it) to our last walk through the airport security, the experience was something that I would never trade or forget.

From day one we were constantly busy, immersing ourselves into the daily lives of the Irish and experiencing as much as we could.  UCD orientation was great, city centre walking tours and shopping trips allowed us to meet other students and become more comfortable in our surroundings before classes started.  Classes are much different than here at Stevens, mostly the sizes!  Here we are used to classes of 30-45 students (except those few lectures freshman year), but in Ireland there could be up to 200 students in your class!  There is much more lecturing and theoretical application than we are used to, but with our analytical minds it was easy to apply the lessons to my own life and even classes we are currently taking.

The Quinn School (their business school) did a great job organizing events and trips for the study abroad students in the program.  We had trips to the Guinness Factory, Glendalough and Belfast as well as a dinner to the Arlington Hotel for traditional food and entertainment and a farewell dinner (again with traditional food and entertainment).  Along with our Irish History class we had even more opportunities to go on trips as well.  We visited a museum in town, Christ Church and Dublina to tie together our in-class learning with the history available within the city.  One of my favorite trips was to Kilmainham Gaol, which is Ireland’s most famous prison.  During the rebellion years (which were less than 100 years ago), the leaders of the IRB and other famous rebels were held in this prison.  Seeing the cells and getting to walk around the grounds was really interesting.  Fun fact, U2 filmed a music video there and many films have been filmed there as well.

Dublin is the largest city in the Republic of Ireland by far, although the smaller towns such as Galway and Cork are just as fun and exciting.  One of my favorite things to do in Dublin was to sit in St. Stephens Green with coffee and a bagel (or on warmer days an ice cream).  There are so many great places to lounge out but the area near the playground was my favorite, watching the little kids playing and having the group of people next to you playing music and singing is something that was calming and quickly became my favorite part of any week.  Through friends we made, we also discovered a fair on Thursdays and Fridays along the river that served amazing food (if you can’t already tell, I loved the food there).  We would go every week for the paella, steak sandwiches and amazing desserts.

Europe has a large sporting world that revolves around football (soccer to us), hurling and rugby.  There were many important events while we were there including the 6 Nations Rugby tournament between Ireland, England, Scotland, etc.  Watching the match with the locals was one of the greatest times I had during the four month span, this is where I got the greatest sense of nationalism, everyone was supportive of the nation (especially since I saw the Ireland/England match!).  The local rugby team is Leinster, they practice once a week at UCD and their home field was a short bus ride from campus, so it was common to run into a player.  A few of us went to a match in February, and then we became hooked on the game.  These games were always fun and we always had a fantastic time.  This is something that I have kept up with upon my return to the states, just a little reminder of the fun I had while studying abroad.

One thing that we all definitely took advantage of was the ability to travel.  With our class schedule we were able to take a fair amount of trips to other parts of Ireland and continental Europe.  Having the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures is one of the draws of the Study Abroad program; I got such an appreciation for others and have great memories from all over the world.

Going abroad was one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for.  Not only did I learn in the classroom but by meeting new people and doing things I never thought imaginable, I found that I have a new appreciation for things and have a greater understanding of the world.

Slán go foil! (Goodbye for now)