Student Alumni Representatives Host Virtual Conversation with Alumni in Finance & Venture Capital

A virtual conversation with a panel of Andover alumni working in finance and venture capital was held by the Student Alumni Representatives (STARS) group on February 13. The panel included Tasneem Dohadwala ’00, P’24, Kanyi Maqubela ’03, Karen Simeone ’94, P’26, and Sandra A. Urie ’70. Student facilitators took turns asking panelists questions before opening up a question and answer session available to all participants.

As a first generation, Muslim-American woman, Tasneem Dohadwala opened the talk by sharing how she did not see many people like her when she grew up. She described how this led her to appreciate the importance of diversity and representation in the workplace.

“I feel like I’m very aware of [the lack of representation] now, so when I meet female founders and under-represented minority founders, I feel like I can truly empathize with them and that empathy can be very powerful… [Diversity’s] not just important because it feels good, it’s actually very economically important because there is a lot of data that says heterogeneous teams outperform homogeneous teams all the time,” said Dohadwala. 

Nigel Savage ’23, a member of STARS (Student Alumni Representatives) and attendee, talked about how he felt particularly inspired by the alumni sharing the ways Andover shaped them and transformed them into the people they are today. Savage related the alumni’s experiences to the continuity of the school’s ideals and the commitment to diversity. 

“I think [their experiences] made me think about how the school is so consistent because all the values that [the panel] referenced are still present, like Non Sibi, Knowledge and Goodness, Youth From Every Quarter. … We have a very diverse school and I think that’s a big reason why we’re so excellent and so successful, because when you have a lot of different minds, different viewpoints, and different backgrounds, people can come together and learn from each other. Iron sharpens iron,” said Savage.

When asked about advice they would’ve given to their younger selves, Sandra A. Urie commented that finding something that she loved to do motivated her to keep doing it. Urie encouraged the audience not to be discouraged by taking time to find what they love and also urged participants to do good in the world outside of their profession. 

“Your life is not all about what you do professionally. There are the paid and the unpaid parts of what you do in life, so don’t be so consumed by the career that you forget there is richness in what you do outside of work, which could be family or volunteer activities…There’s plenty of opportunities out there and plenty of choice, so keep working at it,” said Urie.

Philip Meng ’26, who was interested in learning more about finance and investment banking, also attended the event. Acknowledging that people’s lives are not always linear, Meng echoed Urie’s advice to find the things in life that truly ignite our passion.

“None of the panelists had initially planned on pursuing a career in finance but rather planned on majoring in sociology or other things. I think that finding something you love and pursuing a career with that is critical as that way your passion will provide you with the determination to keep working hard, and since you’re doing something you love, it seems a lot more like fun and less like work,” said Meng in an email to The Phillipian

Isa Matloff ’24, another member of the STARS program, expressed how she believed these events were great opportunities for people to ask questions to professionals about their experiences. 

“I wish more people would come since we as a group are interested in trying to find speakers who will draw in a crowd and who will provide interesting and beneficial advice to the student body… The alumni community loves speaking with current students, so having the chance to reconnect with some of their classmates over zoom and also hearing from people from the community while also seeing students thrive and be part of it. They just love to see it,” said Matloff.