UCLA alumnus Michael Terry’s sprint in the business world is comparable to his time as an Olympic track runner: fueled by boundless energy and determination. Terry graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a degree in Business Economics and later received an MBA from the Anderson School of Management. He currently works as an Executive Vice President in Account Management at PIMCO.
With the diversity and talent present at UCLA, excellence was Terry’s only option. Adopting a ‘constructive paranoia’ mindset, which is hard work induced by the realization that there are more challenges on the way, continually pushed him to thrive both as a student and as an athlete. Moreover, it prepared him for new endeavors that rapidly came around the corner. In fact, as Terry fondly recalls, his most memorable race was right after graduation at the Atlanta Olympics, and less than three weeks later, he had to start working at PwC.
Terry emphasizes the importance of learning in diverse settings and engaging with people of different views and backgrounds, especially since UCLA epitomized his philosophy of ‘contrast brings clarity’ by giving him a rich multicultural experience. To this point, he encourages Bruins to take advantage of college by getting to know people outside of their major. Another way to become more open-minded and think clearly is to travel. Having backpacked in Europe during the summer of his junior year, he found the experience to be truly enriching and worthwhile. So it is no surprise that today he has traveled to 83 countries.
It was also at UCLA where Terry met one of his mentors, Professor Stephen Cauley. Having understood the difficulty of managing academia and athletics, Professor Cauley took Terry under his wing during Terry’s junior year and offered him valuable advice that he still remembers. A few years after graduation, Terry had made a name for himself in day trading and was featured in Business Week. Upon reading this article, Professor Cauley reached out to Terry and provided some personalized advice for ways Terry could join his lifelong career goals with his passion for the financial markets. Terry took the advice and used the next few years (including his time at UCLA Anderson) to successfully network and position himself for a Sales and Trading role on Wall Street. In hindsight, the professor’s words helped steer Terry’s career sprint into a marathon, as he now finds himself thriving in his role at one of the world’s premier investment management firms.
As Terry talked about his career, he emphasized emotional intelligence and openness to change as important, but often overlooked, drivers of success. Terry has learned that the ability to influence coworkers and clients is essential and that it has less to do with what you already know; it’s how well you listen and react. Also, as technology and globalization rapidly impacts all industries, Terry would have a hard time hiring someone that has never failed, as resiliency is becoming more important than ever before. He underscored that new graduates should focus their attention on not only being ‘right’, but also being liked. While Terry believes UCLA students already excel at this, the ability to effectively collaborate is crucial.
Having been through the process himself, Terry has experienced constant personal development and success throughout his career. The relationships that he built throughout his time at UCLA contributed to pushing him forward and provided lifelong friends and mentors. Even now, he works alongside many fellow Bruins who share a bond through their Bruin spirit.
By Natsharee Pulkes and Radhika Ahuja