You know how Americans picture the CIA combing the world to collect data, keeping careful tabs on which political faction is rising or falling in what country, and which dealer is funneling arms to what rebel movement?
Now shift to the private sector and picture a corporation that combs the world as intensively, or more, than the CIA. Its mission: to collect and sell financial and market-related data to players in the global economy, including financial institutions, energy companies, real estate investors, natural resource extractors, and media companies.
That company is SNL Financial, which bills itself as “the premier provider of breaking news, financial data and expert analysis on business sectors critical to the global economy.”
The headquarters of SNL is in a somber-looking building on prime real estate at the east end of the downtown pedestrian mall in Charlottesville, Va. It’s an hour’s drive from EMU and the home base of four of the six EMU graduates who work at SNL – Isaac Wyse ’10, Braden Long ’08, Amina Auezova Shenk ’07, Enea Rrapokushi ’07, Travis Geiser ’04, and Eric Reinford ’02.
(Geiser now works from Chicago and Reinford from London, England, but both started with SNL in Charlottesville. Two grads who started at SNL headquarters – Bradley Hoffman ’02 and Nathaniel “Nate” Overly ’02– eventually parted amicably with SNL to accept opportunities offered in other geographic locations.)
Reinford, a business administration major (like five of his fellow alumni at SNL), was the first EMU graduate to be hired by SNL, upon the recommendation of his EMU business professor Spencer Cowles. SNL chose Reinford to be among its core group of 300 employees on the eve of starting its global expansion. 1
“We’ve grown to 2,300 FTEs in the past 10 years and hope to grow by 20% or more again this year,” says Reinford, who has officially resided in the United Kingdom for the last six years, but who actually spends much of his time traveling around the world as associate director in the new product research and development team. He focuses mainly on the banking sector, “expanding existing sector coverage to new markets or expanding into new sectors entirely.”
In 2011, Reinford circulated among 15 countries in Europe. In 2012, he shifted his attention to Asia, traveling to 15 or so countries.
Geiser, now a CFA charter-holder, is second to Reinford in terms of EMU-alumni longevity at SNL. Early in his career, he was building a lot of the financial models that leveraged the Excel application. Two years ago, he shifted into being the product manager for SNL’s MS Excel-based financial database and modeling application. “The application allows investment bankers, equity analysts, lenders, etc., to pump SNL’s data directly into Excel and populate their models,” says Geiser.
Enea Rrapokushi credits Reinford and Geiser for “establishing the reputation of EMU graduates at SNL.” Rrapokushi recalls a staff meeting in which SNL president and CEO Mike Chinn commented that if the entire workforce were as productive as the EMU graduates, the company would be 10 times more productive. Even if the compliment was overly generous, it reflects SNL’s receptiveness to hiring EMU alumni.
After being hired, EMU alumni have discovered they are able to rise quickly in the ranks of this fast-growing company, receiving as much responsibility as they can handle.
Isaac Wyse, for instance, joined SNL as an analyst in sales operations the summer after he graduated in 2010. A year and a half later, he was promoted to senior analyst. Today, at age 24, he is manager of sales operations, overseeing a group of a dozen (or so) analysts of all levels, both local and global. Among other responsibilities, his team develops the system used by sales and client services and builds reports and crunches numbers on both internal and client performance. “All of this is used to improve the quality of our outreach to our clients and to manage our internal teams,” he says.
Amina Auezova Shenk ’07, who majored in accounting rather than business administration at EMU, is a senior manager. “I am responsible for leading operations and process improvements to ensure profitable revenue growth,” she says. “I work with various sales and client-services department heads across the organization to improve inefficiencies and to help make sound and timely business decisions to drive short-term and long-term performance.”
Braden Long ’08 started his post-collegiate career as an underwriter and risk manager with an insurance office in Charlottesville. In 2012, he moved to SNL to be an analyst. “It’s challenging work, and there is good variety on a day-to-day basis. In the morning when you come in, you can’t necessarily be sure what will be going on during the day.”
So, he is asked, one needs to be flexible to work at SNL? To this, Long laughs agreeably.
SNL’s international scope and flavor make it a good fit for Rrapokushi, born and raised in Albania. He came to the United States at age 18 as an exchange student at Central Christian, a Mennonite school in Kidron, Ohio. He was proficient in reading and writing English from his Albanian schooling, but struggled to comprehend American English, with its colloquialisms.
By the end of a year at Central Christian, though, he was a strong candidate for any U.S. college. EMU accepted him – he graduated in 2007 as a business administration major – and James Madison University granted him an MBA in 2012.
Employed by SNL since graduating from EMU, Rropokushi is now a senior content manager focused on the collection of metrics for the worldwide media and communications industry. He works with team members around the world, using video conferencing, emails, and lots of traveling, usually to India and Pakistan.
The pay at SNL? The alumni at SNL interviewed by Crossroads seemed more than satisfied, though none offered specifics. “SNL follows a very thorough pay-for-performance process where if you perform well you will be compensated more than if you don’t,” says Wyse. “It works out pretty well for those with a good work ethic and a desire to succeed.” — Bonnie Price Lofton, MA ’04
1. Initially, in 2003, SNL established an operation in Ahmedabad, India. Next, in 2005, in Islamabad, Pakistan – both locations likely chosen for the preponderance of highly educated English-speaking personnel who are adept with computers.
For information on employment at SNL, visit www.snl.com. Posted jobs in late March 2013 included copyediting, web design, marketing, sales, and software development, with 40 openings in Ahmedabad (India), 18 in Charlottesville, 15 in Islamabad (Pakistan), and 9 in Denver.