At Xero, we’re passionate about supporting our community and helping to shape the next generation of accounting and finance leaders. As part of our recent collaboration with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), we’re proud to sponsor NABA’s 2021 scholarship program, which has provided over $20,000 of scholarships to their students.
I recently attended a NABA Northern New Jersey annual membership event where I had the honor of meeting our scholarship recipient and presenting him with the funds that Xero contributed. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to our scholarship recipient, Joel Guzman! Continue reading to learn more about Joel’s impressive background, perspectives and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m currently a senior at Rutgers University where I’m pursuing a double major in finance and economics. I’m from Jersey City, NJ and was fortunate to attend McNair Academic High School. My high school was a representation of how diverse Jersey City really is and at McNair, I made friendships with people from all different backgrounds and cultures. While I always thought about pursuing a career in sports or becoming an artist, McNair allowed me to pursue my academic studies further and attend Rutgers Business School.
I was fortunate to intern at American Express my sophomore year with their Global Merchant Services group. After experiencing the corporate world, I decided to take on another opportunity with UBS through their Tomorrow’s Talent program where I was a global wealth management intern on the fixed income sales team. Global wealth management was an area I had never heard of before, so it was interesting to learn about this field. After graduating next year, I’ll be returning to UBS in a full-time position as a Global Wealth Management GTP analyst.
What led you to pursue your double major in finance and economics?
When I stepped into my first economics lecture, the Rocky theme song seemed to start playing from the skies. For the first time in a long time, it felt as if fate had crossed paths with the classroom. That was when I knew economics was something I wanted to be around forever. It wasn’t the making of supply and demand graphs that attracted me, it was the realization that there were invisible factors that played tangible roles in our everyday lives.
And so, what about finance? For me, the beauty of finance is that it can be seen as both an art and a science. Few mathematically based professions take into account human emotions as much as finance does, and it is there in that unsettled gray area where I have come to love finance. Solely relying on theoretical concepts renders itself ineffective in a world where fickle minds and powerful hearts can prove them wrong. Ultimately, I decided to double major in economics and finance because they spoke more to me than any other subject I had ever been introduced to before.
What led you to join NABA’s Rutgers chapter?
I’m a first-generation college student and navigating all the new experiences, campus and opportunities here was foreign to me. I knew what I wanted to study and in turn developed a great passion for it, but what I didn’t know was what I should do with my life once I graduated. It was NABA that helped show what career path was meant for me. That fateful decision all came down to my best friend, Gary, who told me about NABA and encouraged me to check it out. The club, which I soon came to find out was more like a family, helped provide business majors with internships and networking opportunities. At that time, I knew I had to speak to people in order to learn more about possible career paths; and if I was fortunate enough, I could even land an internship in order to see what the beginning of those careers could be like. It took one general body meeting and I was sold and joined NABA during my freshman year of college. Coming in as a freshman, I could connect with other members a few years ahead of who were working towards their career goals. Their guidance helped me as I navigated my own college journey and I developed many influential mentorships.
How do you want to influence the finance profession?
What I hope to accomplish in the profession is create a path for high school or college students to see and recognize that there’s a path they can follow themselves. Most people come into the field of finance wanting a front office role in sales, trading or banking. You don’t always hear about fields like global wealth management, so I want to help create a path that might influence others to do the same thing.
I also want to show people that finance isn’t solely a mathematically-based profession. Within finance and the business world, there are different interdisciplinary responsibilities. For example, if you’re someone who likes psychology or marketing, there’s a way to incorporate that into finance. People can take their skills and incorporate it into a finance career that is more fulfilling and geared towards their personal interests.
What excites you the most about the upcoming year?
We had a year and a half of school in a virtual setting so I want to take advantage of these last few semesters and be able to give back and reconnect in-person. Last year, when classes and extracurriculars were online, it was hard to retain students and keep them engaged and participating in clubs. But in-person, when you have that face-time with people you can really help motivate them or feel like you’re more connected and working towards something.
I also want to enjoy my summer and time with friends and family before I start my full-time position next August. I’m looking forward to going to music festivals and concerts, going to Six Flags and taking some trips to explore the world before I start working. I plan on going to South America and am looking forward to the trip for an immersive spiritual and cultural experience.
What can we find you doing outside of classes and on the weekends?
I couldn’t workout at a gym during quarantine, so I took up home workouts and calisthenics or using your own body weight for exercises. I like going to a park right by my house and you can find me there every Friday at the track and workout station.
I’m a big football fan and love Madden football video games. It’s fun for me since I played football in high school and I really like the strategy involved against your opponents. I played a lot of chess growing up and after I grew out of that, video games became a way for me to incorporate that strategy aspect I really enjoyed.
I also really enjoy spending time with my family. Knowing how limited my time is, I really cherish the time I now spend with my parents and sister.
Any other parting advice for other students?
Be yourself. Being your genuine self to school or work and the conversations you’re having with people. If you’re able to act like your true self, your relationships are much more meaningful.