I have a MBA from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Economics from Morgan State University. I also have a graduate certificate in Leadership Development from Johns Hopkins University and I am a Certified Financial Planner. I've worked in financial services since 1996 at various firms including T. Rowe Price, FINRA, Citigroup, Allianz, Legg Mason & PIMCO. I'm currently a Senior Compliance Associate at Baron Capital.
Paul's career stories
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome to get to where you are now professionally? How did you overcome it?
It’s not possible for me to pick just one. There were quite a few challenges that I faced while trying to build my career that I had to overcome in order to get to where I’m at today. First, as a black man living in the U.S., I am constantly fighting to overcome negative stereotypes. While I did not grow up in the best of neighborhoods when I was young, I have never sold drugs, been arrested, or committed a crime. I am married and I actually provide for my family. I have held numerous part-time jobs throughout high school and college and I have worked very hard to provide for myself without public assistance. Yet, despite all of this I still to this day must be careful about how I conduct myself when out in public. I overcome these negative stereotypes by always conducting myself in a very professional manner when I’m at work. I also try to keep my emotions in check when someone or a situation upsets me. I don’t want to be viewed as “the hostile black man”. I have always arrived to work early, sometimes earlier than my boss just to prove that I can be responsible. In addition, I always meet my deadlines and ask for extra work to prove that I can be depended upon and viewed as a valuable asset to the team. Second, I graduated from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Because it is a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) it is not a well-known school outside of Maryland. Therefore, I had the disadvantage of not graduating from a large or prestigious school and I had to prove that I had the skill set to do the job. I overcame this challenge by realizing that where a person graduated from was less important than what a person did after graduating. Specifically, how well I performed at my job was a bigger indication of my potential than the name of my diploma. Once I accepted this fact, I focused on just doing my job better than anyone else. Last, while I did graduate from college with a B.A., I did not pursue a master’s or law degree. I noticed that individuals who possessed either one or both of these degrees tended to have the ability to move further up in their respective companies. Therefore, 2-years ago I decided to pursue my MBA on a part-time basis to put me in a better position for career advancement.
When you were a student, did you do anything outside of school to build skills or get knowledge that has helped your career?
Ever since my sophomore year in high school I have worked part-time jobs while I was a full-time student. I learned something from each of these jobs that I used throughout my career to better prepare myself for the real world. My first job was a summer job as a janitor at my high school. I learned to be humble and do what was necessary to get what I wanted. I also learned that if I didn’t apply myself and work hard I might wind up doing this for a career which is something I didn’t want to do. I’ve been a customer service representative working the cash register at a movie theater, Kay-Bee Toys (toy store), The Card Shop (greeting cards), and Wilson’s The Leather Experts (leather jackets). These jobs helped me to develop my customer service skills and more importantly, taught me restraint and to keep my emotions under control when being yelled at by an angry customer. I made pizzas at both Domino’s and Little Caesars’s and I was also a waiter at IHOP. Working at these restaurants taught me how to work in a fast paced and stressful environment. It also helped me to develop the mental strength and stamina to work long hours. I helped customers buy shoes at Foot Locker and Dick’s Sporting Goods. These jobs taught me how important it was to know all of the features of the product I was selling. On the job training wasn’t enough. Therefore, this required me to do homework and read outside of my job in order to perform to the best of my ability.