Posted on December 19, 2019 by Wendy Frost

Although it technically only comprises eight blocks in lower Manhattan, Wall Street is the heart of the financial industry. For finance students, it is an elusive goal to earn a spot working with one of these prestigious financial firms.

Wall Street bullBut, most recently, Roadrunners have been flocking to New York City and finding success with firms such as Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Currently, there are at least 15 UTSA College of Business alumni working on Wall Street—many whose paths were paved by fellow alumni.

“Wall Street is an aspirational place for finance students to go,” said Karan Bhanot, chair of the Department of Finance. “A placement on Wall Street is a benchmark reflecting the quality of our academic programs. Employers have had good experiences with our students, so they keep coming back.”

One of the first Roadrunners on Wall Street, Lorenzo Garza, ’99 earned his spot after working in Washington, D.C. with the Federal Reserve Board. “I was at a career fair recruiting employees for the Federal Reserve, and the Goldman Sachs recruiter was located next to me,” said Garza, who majored in finance and international business. “After hearing me explain my role with their credit risk and research team to potential employees all day, the recruiter asked for my card and said he was interested in me. I didn’t hesitate when they made me an offer.”

While a student at UTSA, Garza had the opportunity to meet with Warren Buffett as part of the college’s Leadership Challenge program. He shared that Buffett told a story about how he had to venture out of Nebraska to learn finance in New York City—something that resonated with Garza in his career.

Lorenzo Garza with Warren Buffett

Lorenzo Garza met with Warren Buffett while at UTSA.

Garza, who now is director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was an associate at Goldman Sachs for three and a half years working in risk management. Today he leads a team of specialists reviewing financial and emerging risks at banks nationwide, working in the same space, but from a regulatory perspective. He also co-leads a national stress testing exercise to evaluate the strength and resiliency of banks.

“Everything I learned at UTSA helped prepare me for a career in finance,” said Garza. “But, I also had to pave my own path and be proactive to find internships and create opportunities for myself that were instrumental to my career.”

McAllen native Aaron Castro, MS ’07 came to UTSA to run on the track team after graduating from UT Pan American. Focused on athletics, Castro hadn’t thought much about his professional career. A chance meeting with Patrick Valdez, a former assistant dean for undergraduate professional development in the College of Business, changed that. Valdez invited Castro to attend a recruitment event that Goldman Sachs was hosting in downtown San Antonio. He and 300 other candidates from throughout San Antonio participated in the event.

“After the event, I went to a bar to watch the Spurs game and just happened to start a conversation with a gentleman who was one of the recruiters from Goldman,” he said. “We hit it off, and following a phone interview, I got invited to New York to interview.”

Luckily for Castro, Garza was still at the firm at the time. He helped prep Castro for the interviews, and he was hired as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs following graduation.

Aaron Castro

Aaron Castro

“Lorenzo and I were on the same team at Goldman,” said Castro, who is now founder and CEO of SuperiorCare Emergency Medical Services. “He helped me transition. We both proudly displayed our Texas flags on our monitors.”

Castro spent three years at Goldman Sachs working long hours and Saturdays to be successful in the competitive environment. “The work ethic and time management skills I learned as a student-athlete made a difference,” said Castro. “I applied those same skills to my professional life.”

Since returning to Texas, Castro has applied that same tenacity to entrepreneurial ventures. He worked for Lewis Oil & Gas for several years in private wealth management and venture capital before branching out into medical transport. He now has over 100 employees and 30 trucks on the road.

“It was a life-changing experience,” reflected Castro. “It is where dreamers go. On the street when the lights are on, you have to perform. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you went to school.”

Wanting to help other Roadrunners succeed, Castro offered his assistance when Valdez reached out about another outstanding finance student interested in a career on Wall Street.

“UTSA alumni are capable of competing,” said Castro. “They leave UTSA with the tools to do the job. They just have to believe that they can do it.”

When Sergio Silva Cisneros, ’09 transferred to UTSA from Tec de Monterrey, he saw opportunities for the athletes and musicians to practice their craft, but nothing like that existed for finance students. He wanted to form a student organization, but he needed a
faculty advisor.

By good fortune, a fellow student suggested that he reach out to Ron Sweet, MBA ’91, lecturer II in finance and former vice president of equity investments at USAA. Silva Cisneros sat in on one of his classes then presented him with a plan for his organization. From that chance meeting, the Investment Society was born.

“Professor Sweet deserves 99 percent of the credit,” said Silva Cisneros, who is now a vice president at Barclays. “He has been instrumental in the Investment Society’s success for the last 12 years. It was my dream. He helped turn it into a dream for everyone who came afterward.”

Sergio Silva and Ron Sweet

Sergio Silva visits with Ron Sweet.

“The students were hungry for knowledge,” said Sweet. “We tapped into something percolating. The original vision was networking. The applied part came a couple of years later.”

Under their guidance, the Investment Society grew along with the students’ passion for finance. Membership increased at meetings, and they built a community for finance students. Looking to establish professional connections, Silva Cisneros attended financial conferences in New York City that spurred his confidence when he realized that UTSA Investment Society members were more knowledgeable than their Ivy League counterparts.

“In finance numbers and formulas are the same for everyone,” said Silva Cisneros, who works in the equity derivatives sales-trading team. “The playing field intellectually is even and fair. And it allowed us to dream big.”

Silva Cisneros landed a securities internship with Goldman Sachs, with mentoring assistance from Castro. Following graduation, he joined the Emerging Markets team at Goldman Sachs. In 2014 he was recruited to Barclays to grow their Latin American Division.

“UTSA was a launch pad,” said Silva Cisneros. “We were getting real-world experience through the Investment Society and with the Bloomberg Terminals in the Financial Studies Center. We learned to connect concepts from class to the real world. UTSA alumni hit the ground running.”

After 10 years on Wall Street, Silva Cisneros serves as an inspiration for UTSA students that a career on Wall Street is attainable. He encourages students to get involved, join the Investment Society and read as much as they can.

“The College of Business and the Investment Society have given us the tools to compete,” said Silva Cisneros. “That is the special sauce that has led to our success.”

Financial Trading Lab Expanding on its original mission, the Investment Society has grown to include more applied activities such as 5-10 student-led classes each semester, an annual sector wars competition and the management of a portfolio for a nonprofit that Sweet founded.

“Technology is taking over Wall Street,” said Silva Cisneros. “UTSA students are learning how to code and use languages like Python. These skills are invaluable.”

Learning from other faculty, Sweet watched a New York University professor teach regression analysis online to one of his classes. And, he thought, my students could do that. After showing one student the concept, by the next week that student was teaching the method to a group of students in the Financial Studies Center.

“Students are taking what they learn in class, applying it, then sharing that knowledge with other students,” said Sweet. “They are taking risks and trying new things outside of the classroom. Employers love hiring Investment Society students because they are passionate and produce results.”

Another quality that makes our students stand out is their tenaciousness. When Diana Cuervo,’13, MS ’14 graduated from UTSA she received a job in credit research with Goldman Sachs in their Salt Lake City office. While she liked the work, her dream was to be in New York City. She would regularly visit the New York City Goldman Sachs office and network with other associates. Her hard work paid off, and she was named an associate there.

“My role is client-facing, so I needed to see them in person to prove that I had the skills for this job,” said Cuervo, who is a trader on a portfolio management team. “I get to work with the smartest people in this industry.”

Continuing the longstanding tradition of supporting alumni, Cuervo is invested in helping UTSA alumni. She encourages students to take advantage of all of the resources available at UTSA from academic to professional development. “The more senior we become, the more people we can help,” she said.

Like Cuervo, Ryan Himmelburg, ’15 leveraged an internship opportunity to find his dream job. Working at JPMorgan Chase in a back office finance role, Himmelburg wanted to be actively involved in the stock market.

“It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it got me to New York City,” said Himmelburg, who now works at a private hedge fund. Excelling at his internship, he was given the opportunity to network with individuals on the trading side when he completed his other assignments. He’d come in early to sit in on 6:30 a.m. calls and learn about the different departments. Due to his persistence and his knowledge of the markets, he walked away from the internship with an offer in their equity research division.

“The job is very rewarding from an intellectual standpoint,” said Himmelburg. “The decisions you make have real consequences. My work outside of the classroom gave me a competitive advantage.”

Working in the real estate sector, Raul Perez, ’12, MS ’15 is an associate at Brevet Capital Management, a private credit hedge fund manager. He started off working in San Antonio but seized the opportunity to move to New York when his company asked him to relocate to their headquarters.

“The greatest part about working in New York City is the networking opportunities,” said Perez, whose offices are above Grand Central Station. “The caliber of people that you meet and the hustle and bustle gets me going.”

Hugo Guanais

Hugo Guanais

Utilizing practical skills he learned in the college’s real estate finance and development program, he balanced those with a strong foundation in finance. “The environment at UTSA allows you to do whatever you set your mind to.”

Building an alumni network has been vital to our alumni’s continued success. “We have a strong base of UTSA alumni working in different banks and finance fields here in New York City, and it has become larger and larger over the years,” said Hugo Guanais, ’13, investment banking associate at Credit Suisse.

“I have noticed from interviewing candidates that UTSA students are usually sharper and more determined than students from other schools. If it wasn’t for UTSA and the people I met there, I certainly wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Di Wu, ’12, assistant vice president at Citi, sits on a diversity and recruiting board for her company. Knowing the value of supporting your alma mater, she always asks Sweet to send good candidates for summer internship and analyst positions.

“Students should always find a way to differentiate themselves,” said Wu, who was a finance and accounting major. “Be confident and articulate and learn how you can add value.”

Stephany Ohaz

Stephany Ohaz

One of the newest Roadrunners on Wall Street is Stephany Ohaz, ’18, a securities analyst at Goldman Sachs. She interned with the firm both her sophomore and junior years and credits UTSA alumni Ricardo Rosales, ’16 and Silva Cisneros for providing her with invaluable advice during her internships with Goldman Sachs.

“Every day is a huge learning experience,” said Ohaz. “Come in hungry to learn and outshine your peers to succeed. Believe in yourself and believe in where you came from.”

Nurturing this new Roadrunner community in New York City, Sweet makes annual visits to meet with alumni. “Around the table, everyone is talking about work,” he said. “They love what they are doing, and they love UTSA. That makes all the difference.”

“It is rewarding to look back and see the Investment Society as a catalyst for all of this,” said Silva Cisneros. “The Investment Society was able to give students a blank canvas to paint their future.”

— Wendy Frost