In the eight years since 2008 Pamplin Graduate Seth Berman left Blacksburg, his career has taken him on an interesting path, including three positions in three different cities. Even so, Berman now finds himself connected back to the place his career first blossomed – Pamplin.
As a member of the Recent Alumni Board, Berman serves on the Policy Committee promoting positive change in the College of Business community.
“I chose to be on the Policy Committee because I wanted to help with building the skeleton of the RAB and get into the nuts and bolts of how it was going to work,” he explained. “I’m most excited about seeing Pamplin continue to grow and improve across the board. Students, faculty, and alumni – It’s really all one ecosystem and I think the RAB can make it an even better place for people to learn and give back.”
While Berman was a student, he was an active member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, as well as the Student-managed Endowment for Educational Development (SEED). SEED is an organization of select students that manages a small portion of the university’s $800+ million endowment fund. It works with the purpose of allowing students to apply classroom theories to a real world situation.
Berman served as an analyst as well as the Co-CEO for the organization for one fiscal year.
“I think that everything is kind of a building block,” Berman said. “Pamplin led me to SEED, and then SEED led me to Wall Street. I wouldn’t have gotten into investment banking without Wall Street and so on. It’s been a nice ride.”
After graduation Berman moved straight to New York City to take on Wall Street, working on Citi’s leveraged finance desk, executing high yield bond and leveraged loan deals. He then spent five years in Richmond, Va. with BB&T Capital Markets on the M&A advisory investment banking side of the business. Most recently, Berman took on a new position in the greater Boston area as an Associate Director of Corporate Development at PerkinElmer.
“Doing advisory previously taught me all of the technical skills I needed to then jump into this job and be able to be on the principal side of the table,” he said. “My favorite part about this job now is being able to be a specialist in one area and being able to help a number of different people with that skillset. I also enjoy being able to learn – I’m learning a lot about the life sciences industry and corporate strategy. I like the balance of being able to feel like I’m making an impact, and also feel like I’m learning and growing.”
Throughout his career path, Berman has made a variety of relationships that have impacted his growth, and he credits part of his success to those.
“There are the people that you just naturally seek out whether you’re in a classroom or a job, where you’re helping support them and they are helping to guide you,” Berman said. “I think I’ve had that mentorship and I’ve really kind of sought it out in each of the roles that I’ve been in to help make sure that I’m on the right track and that I’m getting where I want to be. I think it’s really about having good relationships with everybody – your bosses, your customers, your co workers – you find little pieces of mentorship anywhere you’re willing to look for it.”
Now, within the RAB, Berman has the chance to serve as a mentor himself. We asked him a few of our favorite questions to begin to learn more about how he can advise Pamplin students.
Favorite Pamplin Class?
My most memorable class is probably Dr. Billingsley’s Equity Securities class. It was the training ground for all of the new SEED students, so I was in the class as a sophomore with a lot of juniors and seniors, but it was really the first class that turned me towards the field of finance and all of the different paths you could take in that field.
In my free time I really enjoy writing. I’m interested in writing fiction that’s tied to real experiences. I’ve written a novel and I’m looking to write another one in the future. It’s hard to do but it’s enjoyable. I also enjoy investing and spending time with my wife.
I would say a good one is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Also, any book that gives an in depth view of a career path is great to have. Students should read about any career they are interested in pursuing, just so they know what they’re getting into.
Words of advice?
Whether it’s in school or in your career, I think the thing that’s helped me the most is making sense of urgency a habit. When you get into your first job you won’t always know what’s important in the big picture because you just haven’t been there, so if you treat everything as being urgent until you learn otherwise and if you treat everyone with respect to what they are trying to accomplish them you’ll be successful.