In some ways, Anthony Kowalski’s decision to join the board of advisors to the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology was like coming home again.
But in a lot of ways, even though he graduated in 1996, it’s like he never left.
The longtime Hoboken resident met his wife while they were both undergrads on Castle Point — Dr. Dolores Kowalski is an adjunct instructor in the chemistry department at Stevens — and throughout his finance career, Kowalski has sought opportunities to meet and hire Stevens alumni, even before there was a formal business school.
'You've already done the hard work'
“I would say to them, ‘You’re a Stevens engineer. You’ve already done the hard work,’” Kowalski, who did his bachelor’s work in engineering, said. “Calculus is hard. Physics is hard. Thermodynamics is really hard. Finance — relative to what they’ve done, solving these problems is going to be a snap.”
Today, Kowalski is a managing director at Nomura, but when he was just starting out, Wall Street was asking itself how to do the work that Kowalski continues today — getting more engineers in finance, to better understand new technologies that promised to revolutionize the industry. He actually got his start at JPMorgan when a Stevens alumnus helped him get an interview.
One of his first projects was coordinating the effort to help bring the financial company’s fixed income prime brokerage online, which involved understanding the front and back ends of the enterprise.
“We were actually building a business,” he said. “It was certainly challenging, but being from Stevens you’re not afraid of anything — certainly not a little hard work.”
That end-to-end expertise put him on both the product management and sales fronts at JPMorgan and Bank of America, where he was part of the central funding group. At Nomura, where he’s chief operating officer for the company’s global rates business, Kowalski spends a lot of his time on business strategy, as well as managing financial resources and watching daily operating metrics. He’s also keeping an eye on the introduction of artificial intelligence into more products and processes, as the industry looks for ways to improve efficiency.
But he’s still a builder at heart.
“I still enjoy creating new products to solve our problems, or to address the changing landscape of the business,” he said. “That could be new products we’re trying to roll out for clients, or looking at our infrastructure to be sure we’re ready for, say, a change from regulators. It’s near and dear to my heart.”
Enhancing an impressive portfolio
As a member of the board of advisors, he’ll be expected to bring his industry knowledge to bear as Stevens continues to build out its finance portfolio. The School of Business offers a bachelor’s program in Quantitative Finance and a major in Finance, along with master’s programs in Finance, Financial Analytics and Financial Engineering.
His insights come at a valuable time not just for the business school, but for all of Stevens. For the undergraduate Class of 2020, nearly one in three graduates went to work in finance — a number that’s almost doubled in the last two years.
“I want to help Stevens gets recognized as a business school that should be a target school for anyone looking at this industry,” Kowalski said. “How you do that starts with the success of our undergraduates in industry. I’m a big believer in paying it forward, one person at a time, and I enjoy trying to find opportunities for Stevens students, because they’re smart, they work hard, they’re driven. I’m excited to continue doing so as a member of the board.”
Dr. Gregory Prastacos, dean of the School of Business, said he’s excited to add Kowalski to his board.
“We talk a lot about just how disruptive technology has been on the finance industry, and Anthony has really been on the front lines of that revolution,” Dr. Prastacos said. “I’m confident his expertise will help us continue to ensure our programs remain on the cutting edge, and continue to impress the recruiters who hire our talented students.”