Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

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.”


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!


Blog post and photos provided by Samantha Gates, Business & Technology ’14

To give a little background, I am from Wilmington, North Carolina- a beachy, southern area. I had never been to NYC, or anywhere northeast before visiting Stevens. For majority of my life I swore I would go to University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) just like my mom and dad, who have taken me to football and basketball games since I was 3 months old.

Sunrise over the Hudson River - one of the many views at Stevens.

So how did I end up at Stevens?

As I got older I really got in to playing volleyball and decided I would want to play in college. As my recruiting process started, I still swore I wouldn’t go north of Virginia, west of Tennessee, and south of Georgia. I was staying down South where I could always get sweet tea. Randomly, NJIT sent letters to myself and a couple of girls on my team so my mom asked a lady she knew about the school. The lady is actually a Stevens alum and suggested I look into Stevens rather than NJIT because of the location and education.

After a few phone calls and a trip to NYC, I was set. Everything I always stood by and imagined for myself completely changed. However, this decision became the best I could ever make.  Being on the volleyball time, I have truly made friends for a lifetime.

Also being on the volleyball team I became a part of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) which has representatives from each varsity team to make decisions on NCAA rulings as well as to meet with and have a good relationship with the Athletic Department to make things better for athletes.

I also decided to join a sorority (another thing I thought I’d ever do) to make more girlfriends. However it’s been more than just making friends, it helps me get more involved around the school and even gives opportunity for community service as well as more sources for help when it comes to school and jobs.

Being over 500 miles away from home was definitely a hard adjustment at first, especially with no family or friend connections and I only met a few girls on the team on my recruit visit. Luckily it didn’t take long to start passing familiar faces and for professors to say “hi” outside of the classroom. Plus, it’s always surreal to look across the water and realize one of the biggest cities in the world is so close. Especially when your professors tell you all of their connections to businesses in the city and their start-ups.

I know I want to concentrate in Finance and am currently, really enjoying accounting. This summer I hope to get my first internship and I know Stevens has the resources to make it possible.

Finding Yourself @ Stevens

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.