The Oppy staff is proud to continue a new feature for the paper called “Stern Somebody,” telling the stories of remarkable classmates and how they became the exceptional people they are today.
It is my honor to present Robert Bole as this month’s “Stern Somebody.” Rob was one of the re-founding members of The Oppy in January 2020 and I do not know what we would have done without him. Managing balance sheets and budgets is not my forte, but luckily for us, it is Rob’s. As the VP of Finance, he has successfully navigated the newspaper through the pandemic without putting our budget into a deficit. He can be relied on to get any job done and if he doesn’t know something, he is most definitely going to find the answer.
But Rob’s success does not have much to do with The Oppy. He has spent the last 12 years working across the Capital Markets landscape, initially at two Bulge Bracket Global Investment Banks (Deutsche Bank and Bank of America), and is now an Executive Director at IHS Markit, where he works to bring technology and data solutions to the Fixed Income Primary Markets.
More recently, he met the love of his life, Rhi. Fun fact, she is part of my running club, Van Cortlandt Track Club, but we have never actually met. They both live in my neighborhood in Riverdale, and although they don’t know this yet, will become my new dog sitters. They got engaged at the start of the pandemic and are getting married NEXT WEEKEND! But I’ll let him tell you more about that.
Some answers have been edited for clarity.
Rob, would you say The Oppy is the best thing to have happened to you at Stern? And don’t forget I can excommunicate anyone from the board at the whim of a hat. I’m pretty sure OSE allows that…
Yes, of course. The Oppy is the clear #1, but NYU Stern has been a great experience across the board. I am very lucky to be part of the Fall 2019 Red Block (shout out) and very thankful to have had the chance to serve on the board of various other NYU Stern clubs including the NYU Fintech Association, Stern Private Equity and Venture Capital Club, Stern Energy and Infrastructure Club, and the Business and Data Analytics Club.
We don’t care about those other clubs… Joking aside, what made you want to get your MBA?
I am naturally very intellectually curious and have wanted to get an MBA for the last several years. It was just never the right time. I was finally coming up to the end of my 5-year window on my GMAT and that led me to take action to find the best program that would allow me to still work while completing an MBA. I saw Stern as a great brand, a great network to be part of, and a society I could proudly associate with for the rest of my life.
Tell us more about your professional journey. What makes it different from the typical finance career?
I started my career at Deutsche Bank in London in August 2008 after graduating from Youngstown State University in Ohio. I joined their global prime finance sales and capital introductions team as an analyst. This was just weeks before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and a very interesting time to join the financial markets.
I stayed at Deutsche Bank for just over 10 years raising my hand for the most critical and interesting projects over that time, like having the opportunity to help our hedge fund clients navigate the Financial Crisis, leading the launch of two offices/trading floors (Jacksonville and Birmingham, UK), establishing several businesses/products, designing and executing a capital markets-wide stress testing and capital planning process, navigating the equities division through a major restructure, putting together client and product strategy plans, and running their commission management business. I was additionally a founding member of DB Meetups and the firm’s contact for blockchain/DLT, AI, and machine learning initiatives within global markets.
After Deutsche Bank, I joined Bank of America leading various capital markets technology initiatives including reporting, analytics, AI, and machine learning. From Bank of America, I joined IHS Markit in late 2020 in the global fixed income, capital formation division.
What’s unique about this journey is the number of roles and products I have had the chance to be exposed to. I was able to get good experience across all capital markets products, changing roles every couple of years and taking on responsibilities including institutional sales, trading, product management, project management, strategy, and analytics.
Where do you ideally see yourself in five years?
In 5 years, I expect to be in the C-suite of a small to mid-sized company. Either, one that I have created, or one I have joined because I share the vision of the founding partners. I fully expect my NYU Stern degree and network will help prepare me for such an opportunity.
How about in one year?
I have recently been given a great opportunity to take on a bigger role at IHS Markit, so I will be very busy over the next year helping lead the US Fixed Income team and will focus on our US Buyside Outreach, Global Marketing, New Data Initiatives, Partnerships/Integrations, and Strategic Projects. If you see any LinkedIn posts from me and want to help get our message out, please feel free to add me and like/share with your networks. ?
Enough shop talks. Tell us about the lovely Rhi.
Rhianna (Rhi) is amazing and is honestly who I had been looking for my entire life. We met on a Lobster Boat named “Destiny” at Pier 81 in Manhattan (the night the power went out in Midtown; July 2019). We were there to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday––meeting just before boarding the boat. We really connected on our first conversation, set a first date for the following week, and have been together ever since. I am very lucky.
How did you propose?
I convinced Rhi to take a trip with me to Portland, Maine last August. I had known it was time for a couple of months. I had already purchased the perfect ring and I wanted a place outside of New York that we would enjoy visiting in the future.
The actual proposal was at The Press Hotel (great hotel by the water), mostly because I did not know how to carry the ring around without it being suspicious but also because I had a nice expensive bottle of champagne already on ice there…Either way, it was a perfect night of champagne and lobster.
What was it like to plan both an engagement and a wedding in the midst of a pandemic?
Very difficult. This pandemic has been tough on everyone, but trying to plan both a proposal and a wedding when the rules were changing by the day did not make life any easier. That said, my fiancé, Rhianna, and the team at Masterpiece Catering have been excellent in navigating us through the wedding planning (and in putting up with me in the process ?).
Tell us about the big day?
We are getting married Friday, April 23rd at a wonderful venue downtown. State and city guidelines are allowing weddings of up to 150 people and/or up-to 50% of a venue’s capacity, but all guests will need to supply a negative Covid test and wear masks as appropriate. Overall, these are small prices to pay for us to be able to host our family and friends safely.
You have some great stories in your arsenal. I love when you come out with them during our editorial meetings. Can you give us a good one to illustrate your comical side?
I am not sure if this shows my comical side or not but…I used to stop by gatherings at Cipriani’s Wall Street after working late downtown (Deutsche Bank was right across the street). Given I was already in a suit and looked the part, no one ever questioned me joining the various celebrations. I had a great time. I got to meet the Trumps (pre-presidency), Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Regis Philbin, and the leader of the 1980’s Detroit Pistons Bad Boys, Isaiah Thomas, amongst others (we bad boys photographed together below). It was, at least, comical to me when I would share stories and pictures of my nights out with friends and fellow colleagues.
I know you don’t have much free time, but when you do get a few free moments, how do you spend them?
I love to learn. So even when my time isn’t allocated to work or school, I am typically looking to read, watch a new documentary, jump on YouTube or LinkedIn Learn, listen to Spotify podcasts, or travel somewhere new. This summer, I am specifically looking at buying a sailboat and learning to properly sail.
Thank you, Rob, for letting me interview you and for everything you do for The Oppy. There were five of us who restarted the newspaper last year and through (literal) sweat, (metaphorical) blood, and (again, literal) tears, we made it back into the campus name it is today. None of this would have happened without Rob, seeing that the rest of us looked at our financial statements as if written in gibberish.