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As part of Hoya Gateway’s mission is to promote connections between alumni and students, we would love to highlight some of our amazing alumni. During the Alumni Spotlight series, Hoya Gateway will interview some of the Hoya Gateway alumni to discover more about their professional careers and advice for students. We are proud to present our first alumni spotlight, Sameer S. Somal. 

Bio: Sameer S. Somal is the Chief Financial Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, he was a Senior Investment Analyst at The Bank of Nova Scotia and a Financial Advisor and Intermediary at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch & Co. Sameer serves on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Diversity Committee and the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia/Tri-State FPA.  A senior financial services leader on industry roundtable and panel discussions, Sameer is an active member and volunteer at CFA Institute. He is also a Board Advisor and Managing Director of Institutional Education at the iPlan Education Institute in New Delhi, India. Sameer is a frequent guest lecturer on succession planning, diversity, retirement, financial planning, entrepreneurship, and leadership. He earned his B.S. in Finance and Accounting from Georgetown University and is a 2012 FPA Diversity Scholar.

Q: As an educator, you deliver programs to CFPs, CPAs, and attorneys. One of those presentations focuses on Diversity in America. Describe briefly why diversity is so important?

A: Over the last few decades, business leaders have started to support and embrace diversity. In the US, there is increasing diversity in terms of age, gender, and race. Businesses understand these trends and emphasize inclusivity. Studies show, problems solvers with diverse skill sets outperform groups of the best and the brightest. With diversity of thought and experience, we find better solutions to our problems. As a result, we can predict better outcomes.

Q: Describe the importance of mentorship and how has the mentor/mentee process helped your personal/professional development?

A: Mentors are passionate about making a difference and helping others. Mentors have measurable impact on the lives of their mentees. Mentors learn as they teach. The relationship is mutual. Mentorship provides opportunities to build trust and friendships. Human relations are a matter of the heart.  Meaningful mentor/mentee relationships can result in making better life decisions and lasting personal friendships.

Q: Your mantra at Blue Ocean Global Wealth.com is: “The man (or woman) who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man (or woman) who can’t read.” -Mark Twain. Why is reading so important to you?

A: Lifetime reading is important. Reading is advantageous to the mind, spirit, and body. Read to gain perspective. Facts are meaningless without context.  By reading, you can have conversations with inspiring people throughout history. You learn about what it takes to make an impact. The most intelligent people go to bed a little wiser each day. Reading provides a foundation for communicating effectively.

Sameer’s Reading List:

  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
  • Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne,
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
  • Benjamin Franklin by Carl Van Doren
  • Alchemist by Paulo Coelhoimages

Q: What advice would you give Georgetown students?

A: Have purpose in everything you do. Focus on helping others. Be thoughtful about how you spend your time. Expand your knowledge and ability to help people every day. Here are a few suggestions that I share with students for effective networking:

  • Prepare your 30 second to 2 minute elevator speech about you, your experiences, and passion in life.
  • Prepare relevant and thoughtful questions that relate to the event you are attending or company you are visiting.
  • Have plan for follow-up. Going to networking events, shaking hands, passing our business cards, and simply asking someone what they do for a living or where they work is not memorable.
  • Don’t confuse with quantity with quality. Handing out 30 business card or collecting 30 business cards should not be misconstrued for establishing relationships. It’s better to make one or two meaningful contacts and follow-up with hand written correspondence than to send a generic email and LinkedIn request.

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Q: What is a misconception about financial services that you would like to address? What would you like people to know?

A: Financial planning is at a key inflection point. The need for financial planning has never been greater. I chose a career in financial planning because I believe in it conceptually and recognize the opportunity our industry has to make a long-term impact on the lives of so many Americans. Despite the increased demand for quality financial planning advice, the career path receives little attention relative to other financial disciplines, including investment banking, private equity, corporate finance, and portfolio management. It is an interesting phenomenon: young people struggle to find meaningful employment opportunities and jobless rates for new graduates still remain high.

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