Boston to L.A. to Wall Street :Bobby Carroll ’97
When Bobby Carroll ’97 showed up on day one of his first job, human resources immediately advanced him some cash so he could purchase a proper wardrobe. It was then that he realized Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was a world away from Northfield, Vt.
With zero experience in finance, Carroll was on a steep learning curve at Imperial Capital, a Wall Street firm based in L.A. At Norwich, he had majored in communications, before making the trek west alongside 1997 classmates Mike Rizzuto and Jake Head, who were pursuing entertainment careers. “It was obviously scary for three kids who grew up in and around Boston to go out to L.A. with limited resources—we didn’t even know where we were going to stay. But we decided to take a chance.”
With his day kicking off at 4 a.m., he quickly realized the advantage that rising before the sun at Norwich had afforded him. Carroll had mastered time management as a student-athlete and cadet, an experience that he says “teaches you how to fit a 30-hour day into 24 hours. It doesn’t translate directly to success, but it gives you the toolset to be successful.”
He started out in the back office, handling accounting and paperwork. Hungry to make it to the front, he asked the head trader what he needed to do to make it happen.
For the next two years, Carroll was the first to arrive at meetings, ferociously taking notes. “Every Friday afternoon I would have a list of questions from the week and I’d be sure to ask them.” And when an opening came up on the trading floor, he grabbed it. At first he was assigned clients his colleagues didn’t necessarily want to deal with. The interpersonal skills he honed as a communications major paid in dividends. “I jumped at the opportunity and they really weren’t that bad at all,” he says. “I just viewed it as a chance to learn.”
The demands of the job required personal sacrifices, but this was nothing new. “My social life wasn’t typical, but it was good—and similar to Norwich.” And, he had his support system in Rizzuto, Head, and a growing community of Norwich graduates in L.A.
Carroll eventually returned east and worked his way up on Wall Street. By 2013, he had risen to global head of trading for Perry Capital. Today, Carroll is partner and head trader for Smith Cove Capital in Greenwich, Conn. The kid who never took a class in finance now has 20 years in the industry and a name on Wall Street. He credits Norwich for instilling the responsibility and accountability that laid the groundwork for his success. – Audrey Seaman ’13