2020 Best & Brightest: Claire Griffiths, University of Richmond (Robins)

Claire Griffiths

University of Richmond, Robins School of Business

“Claire is a dandelion who leaves part of herself in every county she’s lived.”

Fun fact about yourself: Claire has lived in nine countries on four continents and enjoys mixing up her five languages.

Hometown: Geneva, Switzerland

High School: The American International School of Mozambique

Major: Business Administration, Concentrations in Finance, Economics, and International Business

Minor: Environmental Studies

Favorite Business Course: Investments and Environmental Economics

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Oldham Scholar (full merit scholarship)
  • General Manager/President of the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF)
  • President of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity
  • ESL tutor for staff on campus; Youth Life Mentor for at-risk children
  • Richmond Scholar Director’s Award
  • Historian of the University of Richmond Scholar Student Council
  • Alumnae Engagement Director for Kappa Alpha Theta
  • Treasurer of Women In Business
  • International Orientation Advisor
  • Treasurer of the French Club
  • All A’s Achievement
  • Dean’s List

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Barclays Investment Bank, New York, New York. Sales and Trading Analyst
  • Wells Fargo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Corporate Banking Analyst – Consumer and Retail Group
  • University of Richmond Office of Scholars and Fellowships, Richmond, Virginia. Scholar Student Assistant
  • The George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Countering Transnational Organized Crime Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Barclay’s Investment Bank, New York, New York.  Equity Derivatives Flow Volatility Sales-Trading Analyst.

Who is your favorite professor? Jerry Stevens is my favorite professor for several reasons. His class sparked my passion for finance and prepared me for my internships at Barclays. He has supported me over the past two years as a mentor and an example of positive leadership. Professor Stevens challenges students to remain perpetually curious. He is also a friendly face around campus who stops students to see how we’re doing and to share opportunities for students to get involved in all facets of academic and community life.  One of those encounters prompted me to apply for a position on the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), where I eventually became General Manager, due in part to his inspiration and motivation. Professor Stevens invests in his students; His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. He makes learning fun and challenges you to think creatively both in class and around campus.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Undergraduate students are at the heart of the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business. I feel that commitment to our learning experience every day in every class. I treasure our small class sizes, which afford the opportunity to get to know and learn from both peers and professors. I am fortunate to say that professors in the business school genuinely care about and engage with students at both a personal and professional level. When we have achievements to celebrate or worries to voice, there are always professors, administrative staff, and even the dean of the business school who are more than happy to meet with and support you.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I believe that private-sector-led growth is the best way to foster global prosperity. I especially enjoyed learning about the role that investment banks and the finance sector, in general, have on fostering economic growth. Having lived in developing countries, I have witnessed first-hand how the lack of access to capital and financial transparency can impede job creation, entrepreneurship, and innovation in many countries. In the first summer of college, I worked with countering transnational organised crime at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, where I learned about the importance that finance has to play in facilitating transnational organised crime and money laundering. My University of Richmond courses have provided both the substantive background to understand the forces that undermine human potential and some hints as to how to unlock our individual and collective potential.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would wholeheartedly encourage every student to take business classes regardless of major. The hard skills and rigorous framework for strategic thinking can be tangibly transferred to any aspect of career or life.  The business major complements many other fields. However, students looking to major in a business-related field should also consider pairing it with another major or minor in a different discipline.  My business and environmental studies coursework has been mutually reinforcing. The interdisciplinary combination of a major or minor outside of the business schools affords you a unique perspective that strengthen your academic performance and hopefully prepare you to contribute positively to society.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I have been most surprised about the collaboration I have experienced while majoring in business. There is a bit of a stigma about the competitive nature of the business school. However, in my experience, our collective passion for the Robins School of Business rallies a competitive group of people in common purpose. In my classes, I can always depend on support from my friends and colleagues. Studying business at Richmond has introduced me to a dedicated community of diverse people united by interests in marketing, finance, economics, international business, entrepreneurship, accounting and more.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’m most proud of winning and maintaining my merit scholarship to the University of Richmond. Over the past four years, everything I have been able to contribute to and accomplish here was because of my scholarship.  Were it not for my Oldham scholarship, I could not have studied at the University of Richmond, let alone been the first triple concentration in the business school (with a minor in the arts and science school, the president of Alpha Kappa Psi, or the General Manager of SMIF. I gained all the knowledge I have from the small classes, passionate professors, and engaging material.

Which classmate do you most admire? Alexandra Kohnert is the kind of student who can do anything phenomenally well and with a smile on her face. I met Alex during my first year of college and we have been business and French enthusiasts together ever since. I admire her ability to take on any task and challenge without ever faltering while always being there for her friends. No matter how many classes she’s taking, jobs she’s working, or organizations she’s running, she will always make time to help a friend with something as small as a problem set for a class, talk out any of the many worries of being a college student, help with an interview, or even give you a hug when you didn’t even know you needed it.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my parents as a single unit for my success. They are so inextricably linked in their endless support and love that I couldn’t pick just one of them. Had I not grown up living in the same house as my biggest mentors, heroes, cheerleaders and supportive critics, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They offer me the advice, reality and different perspective I always need.  Growing up on four continents, my parents were my rock throughout constant change who inspired me to be even a fraction of how impressive and compassionate they are. They have supported me and allowed me to be who I am today. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to take on the extra leadership positions, classes, volunteering, and yet still get reminders from them to enjoy the truly unique college experience at the University of Richmond.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? One of my long-term items on my professional bucket list is to come back to the University of Richmond and become a professor in the business school. As mentioned multiple times above, I value my relationships with my professors greatly and am eager to get to know, teach and mentor future Spiders. The other item on my professional bucket list is working at a non-profit, NGO, or foundation utilizing the skills I garnered from a career in finance.  Growing up in developing countries, I understand the power of a well-run, transparent foundation or non-profit and I would love to take my professional skills and be able to apply them to help people most in need. I have seen first-hand how business can be used to improve social and economic well-being in a sustainable manner.

What are your hobbies? I love spending time with friends and family outdoors hiking, walking, biking or skiing, exploring new vegetarian restaurants, and reading.

What made Claire such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“In over forty years as a college professor at highly selective business schools, I have had the pleasure of teaching and working with a large number of gifted students. Some of these students built success on a strong foundation of qualitative skills and others tended to have strong comparative advantages in quantitative skills. Claire Griffiths stands out from other gifted students in her depth of understanding and application of both qualitative and quantitative analysis of complex business problems. Her educational background, functional use of multiple languages, and varied life experiences provide a rare perspective for studying real-world problems on a global scale. At the same time, excellent performance in her finance, economics, and environmental studies demonstrates her conceptual reasoning with complex quantitative issues. Her work experience offers an impressive amount of applied analysis with highly visible opportunities with Barclay’s, Wells Fargo, and the George C. Marshall Center. All of these facts are clearly evident in her resume. As her teacher and advisor, I am most impressed with Claire’s ability to use different viewpoints to address a problem while still moving toward a workable and realistic solution.

While there are many examples of Claire’s unique blend of talents, I would like to explain her role as the general manager in our student-managed investment fund (SMIF) as an illustration of her unique abilities.  The general manager position requires more than academic achievement. The manager must lead other talented student analysts, communicate with advisors, and manage interpersonal relationships while also providing in-depth analysis of data-driven models. The general manager serves as the focal point for all oral and written communications between the fund and faculty advisors, school administrators, and practitioner members of the advisory board. Claire earned the general manager appointment from both her peers and faculty advisors by illustrating her unique abilities in both classroom and out-of-classroom activities. While Claire is well-versed on demands for financial performance in an investment fund, she also understands the dynamics of socially responsible investing as a vehicle for moving financial incentives in harmony with social and environmental goals. She is currently introducing an investment overlay for SMIF that conforms to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards for firms that are to be added to the investment portfolio. This is a challenging but incredibly rich learning experience involving both the management of investment performance as well as the social integrity of investment decisions.

Finally, Claire is a caring and selfless person with a passion for lifelong learning and serving others. She has a desire for self-improvement combined with a goal of sharing what she has learned. She accomplishes all this with a friendly and congenial disposition. In my view, Claire Griffiths represents the ideal University of Richmond student who has both a strong foundation in liberal arts and a set of specific competencies necessary to deal with the growing complexities of global business. She works nicely with both the poet and quant dimensions of life and has great promise as a business leader who can help shape sound practical solutions. I am very enthusiastic in my support for Claire Griffiths. She may well be the most-well-rounded student that I have had the pleasure of teaching and advising.”

Dr. Jerry Stevens
Professor of Finance

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE TOP 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST BUSINESS MAJORS OF 2020

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