Sean Wilson, BA'90
Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Sean Wilson had dreams of becoming a professional athlete—but it wasn’t until he attended Northeastern University that he realized his true calling. "I was a ski racer and honestly, Northeastern was not among my top choices of colleges. Still, my father and uncle were familiar with the university’s signature co-op program and encouraged me to apply."
In 1985, Sean enrolled in Northeastern and began his inaugural co-op at the accounting headquarters of software and computer manufacturer IBM. For the next six months, the young Husky resided in New York City and began building the foundation for his successful career. Introduced to the competitive international business world, his dreams of becoming a pro skier were soon replaced with those of a budding financial entrepreneur.
Sean’s next two co-ops were with multinational financial services corporation Fidelity. There, he fast-tracked his way from making copies to trading, while learning more about investments and the stock market. "I was sure the position would be more administrative, but as I result of the stock market crash of 1997, Fidelity laid off many people in its trading department," he says. "However, the markets came back quickly and strongly, and I was asked to help out with trading. Before I knew it, I was trading hundreds of millions of dollars of currency on behalf of Fidelity’s international funds."
Sean was able to establish relationships with major banks that wined and dined him to encourage business, and he started building a valuable Rolodex. "I had to grow up pretty quickly trading at that level, and to learn basic things you don’t even think about as a kid, like interacting socially at a professional level and time management. I wore a suit to school, would run from class to work in the afternoon, and attend client dinners at five-star restaurants at night. Needless to say, I had to mature pretty quickly; I wanted to be taken seriously. I didn’t come from money and I was motivated not to come off as just some student."
Passionate about trading and committed to maintaining a high GPA, Sean went on to complete his final co-op at—and was later be hired by—Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo. He graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a focus on finance and insurance, and went on to hold positions with several large financial institutions including Rockefeller & Co., Phoenix Investment Council, and Columbia Management in Boston.
Currently a managing partner and chief investment officer at LR Global Partners, a hedge fund, Sean divides his time between New York and Asia, where he oversees investments in pre-emerging and developing markets. His eldest daughter, Katie, graduated from Northeastern in 2012 with a degree in psychology and his son plans to attend this spring.
On how co-op influenced his career path: "The co-op program gave me confidence and fine-tuned my aspirations for life after I graduated."
Advice for current students for getting the most out of the co-op program: "Try different things; use this time and all the interviews as opportunities to master how to market yourself. Expand your network, and find out how to separate yourself from other students to land the job that you want. With my co-op experiences, I was able to graduate from college with a vast network and a substantial resume, and know exactly what I wanted to do with my career."
On supporting Northeastern's students and programs: "My philanthropic donations to the Bachelor of Science of International Business (BSIB) program are reflective of my beliefs and indicative of my commitment to keep Northeastern globally competitive at the highest level. LR Global has offices all over the world; international business is my life. I hope my lifetime support of this program will allow Northeastern University to further develop this program and inspire other alumni to follow."