Matthew C. Meade says he was driven to write his recently self-published book, Wisdom on the Way to Wall Street, as a way of giving back to the community. He’s hoping that the principles contained within its pages will “motivate, inspire, and elevate individuals throughout their career success journey.”
It’s a lofty goal, but as someone who admits that challenges are always going to be there, Meade, a Vice President of JPMorgan Chase & Company, has built his own career step by step. As such, his book aims to lead young professionals in much the same way: giving them the guidance to move from the fundamental business and technical abilities they become fluent in at McIntire before moving on to master next-order skills such as building and managing teams.
For Meade, the instructive lessons contained within the pages of Wisdom on the Way to Wall Street capture his philosophy and intention to lead “individuals based on their unique backgrounds to be successful.”
Lessons Learned on Grounds
His own journey to Wall Street started when he left his home state of New Jersey to enroll in Virginia.
“It was far enough away from my home in New Jersey for a fresh, new experience, but close enough to drive a few hours to visit family,” he recalls. “After taking prerequisites, electives, and then going to Comm Connection with Associate Dean Rebecca Leonard, I knew the Comm School was the right choice for me.”
He notes that learning through McIntire’s Integrated Core Experience was important for giving him the opportunity to collaborate on diverse teams, to challenge others’ perspectives, and to deliver dynamic projects. “The hard and soft skills I learned were very transferable as an analyst working in debt capital market sales.”
He says that his Block 5 experiences with corporate sponsor Rolls-Royce offered particularly excellent preparation, noting that attending classes with people from different countries equipped him with the tools necessary for doing business in an expanding global context.
It was also during that time that Meade picked up a piece of advice that he says was “one of the most important things I learned in McIntire.” It came from his mentor Professor Bill Wilhelm, who told him, “Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.” Meade says his advice is just as applicable today, as industries and client needs continue to change and evolve, often at breakneck speed.
A Timely Title for First-Years
He notes that while his book imparts advice in the same vein, it contains lessons well-suited for first-year UVA students. In passages such as “Master Your Own Craft,” he suggests that once students select their major, they should seek out opportunities to interact with many levels of their chosen profession through internships and networking with alumni and professionals in the field to learn from their experiences.
In “Blaze Your Own Trail,” Meade reminds would-be professionals to focus on their passions and to tap into their individuality. The not-so-subtle message reveals his intent on convincing young people to accept and, indeed, be their authentic selves in the workplace.
What advice does he offer to entry-level employees who are attempting to balance authenticity while also being sensitive to corporate culture and those interpersonal nuances that make teams successful?
“Don’t go it alone,” he advises. “Develop relationships and mentorships outside of your team, so that way you can receive guidance on how to navigate challenges within the team from a neutral third party.”
Meade admits that the self-publishing process was challenging at times, especially when trying to recall the most meaningful ideas and the exemplary stories from his life, but as a committed lifelong learner, he enjoyed the process.
In fact, he says that “endlessly” educating himself, networking with like-minded leaders, and doing his part to advance pathways for diversity throughout his organization are what continue to motivate him after working in finance for 15 years.
Though his book details many challenges people new to the job market face, he advises students attempting to make those crucial first steps toward professional success in the 2020 Zoom-call environment to make the same steps they would in a face-to-face situation.
“Set up time with the people in your team and stakeholders you will be working with to introduce yourself, network, and realize where your team fits in the overall picture of the organization. Taking more time in doing extra preparation for meetings in order to ask insightful questions goes a long way. Embracing the audacity to be authentically you is vital. Even though it’s Zoom, it’s still important to bring your authentic self to work,” he says.