Q & A:
- Who was your favorite Hofstra professor, and what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Gioia Bales was my favorite professor at Hofstra. Her finance classes were quite challenging, and I really appreciated her real-world Wall Street experience. I can vividly remember writing my investment research piece for one of her classes on Starbucks, where I had to pitch a stock idea. I have some fond memories of Hofstra, including being a resident assistant for three years, president of the Financial Management Association, and graduating with highest honors.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I started my career at Moody's Investors Service,where I went through a credit research training program. I was fortunate to have a great boss, who involved me in many high-level learning activities. I was lucky – at 22 years old – to be involved in many meetings with CEOs and CFOs of public companies. I remember sitting in the board room during meetings with big-time executives such as Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of GM and Chrysler, and being amazed that I got to not only shake his hand but also ask real business questions.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I am currently a leading sell-side equity research analyst covering gaming, lodging, and leisure stocks. While at my first job (Moody's),I was fortunate to spend time working for the gaming, lodging, and leisure analyst, focusing on high-yield bond issues. Clearly, covering casinos was a lot more exciting than just about any industry I could think of. I decided that becoming an expert in casinos and hotels would be an awesome field to follow, particularly given long-term growth prospects and a fairly unique niche to study.
- What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I learned that networking is an essential tool to career development. I was fortunate at Hofstra to have some good mentors and acquire early internship exposure to formulate my own specific interest in the field of finance.
- What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Don't wait until graduation to figure out what you want to do. Start looking today for internships and other learning opportunities that will differentiate you from your peers at Hofstra and other universities. It's an incredibly competitive job market, and you need to separate yourself from the pack. Building a strong resume today is critical, and you will need some experience, in addition to good grades, to get a job. The world is full of online networking opportunities, whether through Facebook or Linked In, but building meaningful, lasting, and personal relationships is still more valuable than what these mediums can provide. Many of the people you know today, or will meet right after graduation, will form the foundation of your career network for many years to come.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Retired. In all seriousness, though, I could see myself running a hedge fund portfolio. My buy-side experience was one of the most memorable and challenging periods of my career. I could also see myself working on the corporate side as a senior executive (CEO, CFO, or development head) at a gaming or lodging company. It would be an interesting challenge to take my Wall Street skills and try to apply them in the "real world" of a corporation. From my current position, it's easy to tell a company how it should be run, but I'm sure that actually doing so is much harder.
When Joel Simkins (B.B.A.,'98) was studying banking and finance at Hofstra, he never envisioned becoming an expert in the gaming and leisure industry. Joel's experience as an undergraduate student at Hofstra offered him a unique opportunity to gain applicable networking and social skills.
During his time at Hofstra, Joel served as a resident assistant for three years and was president of the Financial Management Association. Joel graduated from Hofstra in 1998 with highest honors.
As a Hofstra student, Joel interned at VZB Partners, a hedge fund managed by a Hofstra alumnus, where he gained real-world experience that shaped his career interests. Joel's finance experience includes being a senior associate at Moody's Investors Service, associate analyst for Bear Stearns, associate analyst for Deutsche Bank Securities, vice president and senior gaming and leisure analyst for Prudential Equity Group, as well as managing director and senior gaming and leisure analyst for Macquarie Capital. Joel is a frequent guest speaker on Bloomberg Television and CNBC, where he discusses the gaming and lodging industries.
In 2009 Institutional Investor magazine named Joel Simkins "the best up and coming gaming and lodging analyst on Wall Street." Joel joined Credit Suisse Securities in August 2010 and currently serves as director-senior gaming, lodging, and leisure analyst.
Joel credits Hofstra University with offering him the opportunity to advance in his financial career. He serves as a role model for current Hofstra students hoping to excel in finance. He believes his educational experience at Hofstra was a vital component in gaining the necessary skills to succeed in finance, and favors internship opportunities for students as crucial to acquiring valuable knowledge and experience. Joel aspires to one day become CEO of a hospitality company, and to bring the skills he gained at Hofstra with him.