Junmey Wang
Student Writer

Every person you pass by has a story if you’d stop – and listen. This is a work-in-progress – a project to share the voices around us that are awaiting to be heard. The stories you’ll read here help us explore universal truths and our common humanity, bringing to light the points in which our varied paths intersect and diverge. This is an invitation to reclaim the conversations and moments that we easily let slip in between the cracks: the ones that make us real.

dwayneDwayne Safer
Professor of Finance
Department of Management and Business

Early on in my career, when I had just graduated from Rutgers with an MBA, I was looking for a job and was about to have a baby. I had the opportunity of having a job interview with a small investment bank, so I went.

The last employee I interviewed with said this, “You’ll never make it in this business.” He didn’t know me, but he knew that I was about to have my first child. He said, “This job isn’t right for you. You won’t make it.” If anything, that just motivated me even more: I started that job a month later.

I’ve worked for almost 17 years in various fields of finance. I look back, and realize that I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could—and not at all by my own doing, clearly.

When my daughter was first born—I’d stay up most nights when my daughter was crying—and I would study, and I’d read. I would try to get ahead just by learning and reading; I’d have my daughter in one arm, and do Excel spreadsheets in the other. I look back—and it was well worth it. Even though it was a challenging work environment, the fact that she would keep me up enabled me to get a lot of work done.

Working in New York in investment banking during the financial crisis was a fascinating time. Going through it, I don’t think I realized just how serious the course of events were. I was on assignment for two or three years, helping advise the U.S Treasury on what is now known as the Bank Bailout Bill. At that same time, I also worked with the FDIC—the entity that was responsible for shutting down troubled banks.

It was stressful: I did a lot of traveling from New York to D.C. on the Amtrak. I would go down with my boss to D.C. on a Friday afternoon, and they would want to see a report by that evening itself. So, on the train ride back, I would be sitting there trying to write a 10-20 page report. There were tight deadlines, somewhat stressful—but extremely fun and extremely worthwhile.

There were points when I felt like giving up because it was overbearing. But when I look back on my career, I see how much I’ve learned, and how much I’ve grown as a person. That period during the financial crisis was one of the most difficult for me, but also one of the most rewarding.

Working in the field of finance, I realize people were very driven by a worldly definition of success. It’s just amazing how much money, power can motivate people. They spend their whole lives pursuing something they could never achieve, and even if they got close to it, they realize pretty quickly how empty it is.

I’ve always looked at it this way: as long as whatever I’m doing is in line with God’s will—I’m a success.