Alumni Trailblazer: Claire Nesler
When Claire Nesler (BBA ’11) began a prestigious investment banking analyst program at Citigroup, a high-level executive asked, “How did you get here?”
Most of the other analysts in her program were recruited from target, Ivy League schools. Nesler stood out because she came from a non-target school and she was one of only a few women.
“From that day on, I was determined to prove that I deserved to be there,” Nesler says. She worked on a wide variety of projects—mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, initial public offerings, and recapitalizations—and she took on more responsibility than a typical analyst, earning the trust of senior executives at client companies.
“Investment banking wasn’t something I had planned on doing when I first walked through the door at Wisconsin, but I had a great support system to point me in the right direction,” Nesler says. “That’s why I feel strongly about keeping in touch with the School and with students who are there now.”
When Nesler was a student, Jamie Marsh-Finco, then BBA career advisor and current director of Wisconsin BBA career services, told her that experience in investment banking makes candidates very marketable in terms of skill set.
Marsh-Finco was right. There are relatively few women working in investment banking, and Nesler is passionate about getting women at the WSB to consider this career path. She recently put together a presentation that featured case studies of the jobs she and her peers landed directly after earning a bachelor’s, the opportunities available to them now, and how certain positions ladder up to form a career.
“My best advice to students is choose a career that interests you but also one that provides you with options,” Nesler says. “You may realize that your dream job right out of college is not what you expected, and you will want options available. Some areas of finance have higher proportions of women and some have a better work-life balance. You need to be armed with information in order to make the right decision for you.”
Nesler now works at an industrial holding company she describes as “a combination of the startup world and the traditional private equity world,” where she evaluates and executes the acquisition of companies.
“I enjoy being exposed to a variety of companies and discussing strategies with management teams,” Nesler says. “It’s also great being part of a firm that’s just starting out and working to build a concept into a company. This experience will play an important role in what I do further on in my career.”
Nesler credits the School for providing the skills and experience to succeed in the highly competitive world of investment banking. “Wisconsin taught me to be tenacious and resourceful with respect to my career,” she says.