Benjamin Davies is a current Full-time MBA student, specializing in Investment Banking and Strategy. Prior to Stern, Ben was a Captain in the US Army. Post-MBA, he hopes to pivot into an Investment Banking role. At Stern, he is a Consortium Fellow, Fertitta Scholarship recipient, and is active within the Military Veterans Club.
The Decision to Pivot
When I graduated from West Point in 2016, I had one objective I wanted to accomplish during my time in the military. I wanted to deploy to a combat zone as a junior leader to gain experience leading Soldiers in a challenging environment. I was fortunate enough to accomplish this goal twice over and faced the option of getting out of the Army in 2021. When presented with this decision, I realized that I was ready for a new challenge and needed new goals to align with my passions.
I took several months to self-reflect and understand what I wanted from the next chapter in my life. I wanted to continue solving complex problems based on comprehensive research and learning new skills in a short period of time. I decided that investment banking would allow me to continue working in this fast-paced environment that required teamwork to succeed. In order to make this pivot, I realized I needed to grow my business acumen and professional network to be able to secure a job at a leading financial institution. In order to pivot from the Army to corporate America and investment banking, business school was the obvious answer.
Why NYU and Why Fertitta?
NYU Stern immediately stood out amongst other business schools due to its location in the heart of the banking capital of the world and its veteran initiative – the Fertitta program. After speaking to veterans who were current Stern students, I quickly realized that they lived the values of IQ + EQ. Every student and faculty member I interacted with spoke about the incredible people they were surrounded by. It was inspiring to find a school where I could grow my network and learn from some of the best professors in the world.
From the outside looking in, I thought the Fertitta program was too good to be true. NYU Stern truly stood out in the way that it supported its veterans in such meaningful ways. The program deliberately bridged the gaps that most veterans inherently have when transitioning to corporate America. The Fertitta program allows veterans to take Financial Accounting and Statistics – requisite 3.0-credit core classes— over the summer, which reduces the course load during the fall, and ultimately enables us to focus more on recruiting and securing a summer internship. During the summer semester, the veteran cohort also had the opportunity to participate in company treks to tour offices and meet Stern veteran graduates who were working in top-level companies. The final piece of the Fertitta program is the financial aspect which greatly assists the change in lifestyle that all full-time students undertake. Looking back on the experience, I was also able to build incredible bonds with my veteran cohort from an early stage and give me a close circle of friends that I can always rely on.
At 29 years old, I had not been in an academic classroom in over seven years. I was nervous and apprehensive about contributing to a classroom filled with brilliant classmates who had recently graduated from top-tier institutions. Being able to attend the summer semester surrounded by other veterans made the transition from the military to the classroom much more manageable. Both of my summer professors presented challenging material in ways we could digest and establish academic proficiency. Because of my summer classroom experience, I now have a much stronger foundational knowledge of accounting principles, which will pay dividends during fall recruiting.
The most beneficial part of the summer semester was the opportunity to participate in company treks to firms like McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Mastercard, and Pfizer. Our cohort was able to network with other veterans at these companies and gain a firsthand look at their day-to-day operations. We were able to ask candid questions to veterans—many of whom were Stern alumni—and had been in our shoes several years ago. I found the experience incredibly beneficial, and I now have a roadmap for success for the upcoming semester and a much deeper understanding of what type of job I will be recruiting for.
Looking Back on the Experience
As I look back upon my summer semester, the moments that stand out occurred because I was surrounded by fellow veterans whom I am now lucky enough to call friends. When I left the military, I was saddened by the realization that I might never find the same closeness and trust with the people around me. When I nervously arrived for my first day of class at Stern, that thought was immediately erased. Through the Fertitta program, I found 29 remarkable veterans who will be some of my closest friends during my time here and beyond.