College of Business

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Wendy Field ’74

Wendy Field
  • Major: Business Administration
  • Degree: B.S. 1974
  • Position: Retired, Former Managing Director UBS Investment Bank

What are some of the ways your experience at URI and the College of Business have had an impact on your career path?

A young finance professor challenged me and the rest of his class to study how stocks perform. This opened my eyes to how to evaluate companies from a financial perspective. I also assisted another professor with his work with the Small Business Administration, advising entrepreneurs on how to forecast cash flow in their business plans. When I graduated, I decided to seek out a commercial banking career and went to NYC where I was chosen to join a commercial lending program. During my 37-year career, I assisted many small, medium, and large companies finance their expansion. Over this time, I perfected how to evaluate performance and cash flow, which often is an art. I made a few errors, but then if I hadn’t pushed the envelope a bit when trying to win business, I would not have won the business. When things go wrong, you really learn a lot more than when everything goes the right way.

When you think about your experience as a business student at URI, what are some of the most valuable lessons you learned?

I was the only woman in most of my classes. I was also a bit older than most of the other undergraduate students, as I had taken some time off after my second year to work. So I was easily noticed by the professors, and they encouraged and challenged me. I was keenly interested in understanding what was being presented so I decided to speak up and ask questions. This approach served me well in my career.  I made fewer mistakes and typically did not waste time working on projects that I misunderstood.

What were the best parts of your URI experience?

I liked my fellow students, the faculty was young and tuned into the markets, and class schedules were flexible enough so that I could hold down a bartending job up in Providence. It was important to be able to work so that I could afford the tuition and a house share down-the-line.

What is most interesting to you about business in today’s world? The most challenging?

The level of change that constantly comes. Change provides an amazing challenge to adapt and to see first-hand new ways to manage and run a business. Information is now provided real-time, so those who can understand and spot trends and act quickly will generally have an edge. People who look back and continue to do what they have always done, or only work with those they know, will be second-rate producers. Learn from new colleagues and “steal” good ideas on how to perform better.

What advice would you give to a student today considering a major in business?

Become familiar with what is going on in the world—outside of Rhode Island! Read the Wall Street Journal and talk with classmates and faculty about issues and ideas that look interesting. This will ultimately give you perspective on various industries and an edge when looking for a job. Employers want people who are curious and knowledgeable. Also, take a speech class. Inevitably, you will be required to address groups of customers or fellow colleagues. Your performance in front of them is important to your career success, so start practicing now.

What do you believe is most important for a new grad entering the workforce to understand?

You will have a career a long time, so spend time researching opportunities and specific companies. When you eventually start working, remember that you are there to perform a job, so work hard and learn. Follow instructions, finish projects on time, and keep your boss informed. Communication is key, so manage up as well as across.

 

 

 

 

 

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