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‘Cats with Careers: Q&A with Bernstein’s Managing Director

Many Northwestern wildcats interested in the world of business aspire to pursue a career in finance, consulting, or private wealth. Richard Meyers, a Kellogg alum and regional managing director at Bernstein, a research driven investment firm, discusses his career path, most valuable lessons he has learned, and helpful tips for those wanting to go into a similar field.

Q: Describe your position at Bernstein and your day to day responsibilities.
I am a regional managing director at the firm so I am in charge of Bernstein’s private client business in the Midwest.
A: What is a challenge you have had to overcome at your current job?
The biggest challenge anyone grapples with in the investment world is what happens to the capital markets. Throughout my time at Bernstein, we’ve had the tech bubble explode, attacks on 9/11, the housing crash and the Great Recession of 2008. Through it all, we’ve had to not only see our clients through these challenges but continue to adapt and evolve to make sure what we offer reflects a continuing evolving investment world and opportunity set.

Q: What are the most important tools you learned from your time at Kellogg?
A: The tools I draw upon most are the work we did in organizational behavior, under Vicki Medvec; thinking about incentives and how to put them into place and organize them into ideas to lead a team has been critical. I should also mention that the basic strategy work I learned under Professor Besanko has been invaluable.

Q: What does the company look for when hiring new members?
A: We’re looking for people in the private wealth space that are going to be in a client-facing role; individuals who can establish and deepen existing relationships, demonstrate initiative to meet client needs, have analytical skills, be able to collaborate with others as well as work alone, have project management skills, and work through a complex client issues.

Q: How can Northwestern students market themselves to be more noticeable in the job market?
A: Candidates should be prepared to address the basics like:
1. Why do I want this particular job at this particular firm?
2. What makes me uniquely prepared to succeed at in this next role?
3. Asking questions that show that you’ve done your homework on the firm and the role
4. Asking for a business card and writing an actual or electronic thank you note in a timely fashion.

Q: What are the three most important lessons you learned as an undergraduate that applies to you in the workforce today?
A: I was a psychology major so I often draw back on what I learned about human motivation and biases. The most important lessons I learned that still apply to me today are:
1. Learning about behavioral biases to any endeavor
2. Developing better written communications
3. Ability to speak publicly and communicate ideas

Q: When did you know this was the line of work you wanted to go into and how did you prepare for that?
A: My first job out of undergrad was in a rotational program at a large financial institution so I had a chance to sample the private wealth world but it wasn’t until I left and worked at a startup and as a management consultant that I realized how much I enjoyed the world of private wealth.

Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
A: I want to continue to be intellectually engaged in what we do at Bernstein; continue to be on the frontlines with our clients, and keep on having an impact in the business and the firm. Thus far, I’ve been excited to to go to work everyday, so if I can continue to do that I know I will have been successful.

Beyond his professional successes, Meyers devotes his time to the Chicago community as a member of the Windy City Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization and on the Executive Committee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

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