Leaders in Finance: Gatton College Finance Alumni Board Inspires Students

As a young girl, Kennedy Ekovich dreamed of working on Wall Street. The dream will soon come true for the senior finance major and business analytics minor at the University of Kentucky. After graduating this December from the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Ekovich will head to New York as an incoming analyst at Mizuho Financial Group and work on mergers and acquisitions in its healthcare division.

To inspire other students seeking a career in finance, Ekovich recently moderated a Finance Advisory Board Panel of Gatton College of Business and Economics alumni who shared their experiences in their fields, answered questions, and conducted breakout sessions designed to inspire students in their career search. The panelists included:

  • Laura Boison, Market President for Truist
  • Keith Carlson, CEO and Managing Partner at Roebling Capital Partners, and Managing Director of Mergers and Acquisitions at VonLehman & Company
  • Janet Dietrich, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Energy Transition for Macquarie Group’s Commodities & Global Markets
  • Lain Garrett, Director of US Treasuries Product Management for CBOE (Chicago Board Options Exchange) in New York
  • John James, Americas Legal Entity Controller Executive for Bank of America
  • Ryan Thompson, Managing Director of Technology, Media & Telecom, Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan in New York

“I want students to be excited to realize how much is out there in careers and see a wide range of jobs,” said Ekovich. “There’s more out there than what they may originally think beyond corporate finance.”

The event was hosted by one of Ekovich’s mentors, Dr. Wendy Liu, senior lecturer of finance at the Gatton College and director of Wall Street Scholars, a program that helps students be successful in investment banking, asset management, private wealth management, consulting, corporate finance, and other highly competitive positions.

“Over the years the Gatton College has produced extraordinary talent and leadership in finance,” said Liu. “We are very proud of the accomplished alumni who shared their perspectives with the next generation of leaders in finance in the panel discussion.”

Ekovich moderated a discussion on a wide range of topics, including work in investment banking, trading, and commercial banking, finance career development, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing and disclosure.

To highlight the risks of the profession, Garrett discussed his most memorable trades, including the most profitable and his biggest loss. He also serves as a mentor to Ekovich, counseling her on job interviews and offers and ultimately encouraging her to keep pushing toward her dreams.

Several other panelists offered inspiration to students. “Don’t be afraid to have aspirations and trust yourself,” said James. “Take risks, failures are learning. If you don’t go for it and have trust in yourself, then you are leaving yourself shallow. Go for it!”

“Our alumni are extraordinary, and important to the younger generation. I am thankful they support us,” add Ekovich. “Networking is everything.”

(Top Photo: Panelists | Bottom Photo: Wendy Liu, Kennedy Ekovich and Lain Garrett)