Jesse Talarico, BSBA ’10
Jesse Talarico has been interested in business ever since he was a young boy, when, at a garage sale, his stepfather told him he would buy a collar for his dog if Jesse could negotiate 50 percent off.
“That’s when my business savvy really started,” says Jesse, a self-starter from Duluth, Minn. “Getting that collar for half price was easier that I thought. It all just seemed to fall into place after that. Later, I negotiated the price of a few vehicles before I was even driving age.”
Now he’s a senior at the Boston University School of Management majoring in finance and graduating in May. But that isn’t even the half of it.
In between, he bought and sold cars and antiques (“My motto was buy low, sell high”); ran an eBay consignment business; learned Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese to various levels of proficiency; studied abroad in Madrid, Spain; passed the Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Level 1 exam (quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate); and developed an interest in Islamic finance and microfinance, pioneered in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus, in addition to traditional finance.
“I have always liked business because I feel strongly that you can change a lot about people’s behavior, or fix problems you see in the world, by influencing the flow of money. In that way, as a business leader, you can really create some kind of real change.
“I hold more respect for Muhammad Yunus as a businessman than even Warren Buffet,” Jesse says. “I think Yunus’ idea of loaning small amounts of money to impoverished people without requiring collateral or charging interest is one of the answers to society’s problems.”
Jesse has already effected positive change of his own around the School of Management. Recognizing a gap in the curriculum, he recently conceptualized and developed advanced workshops for Excel and Mathematica, then began teaching some of the undergrads and MBAs at the School.
“I didn’t have much IT savvy when I first came to college. But when I started looking at job descriptions for financial positions at places like hedge funds and trading firms, I was surprised to see the criteria for them. They aren’t looking for people with just business or financial backgrounds, but rather those with IT backgrounds—programmers and math majors. I realized I needed to learn Excel on a whole different level.”
So he picked up book after book and taught himself what he needed to know.
“Jesse conceptualized the idea of peer-to-peer workshops, then developed the curriculum as well,” says Greg DeFronzo, Information Technology Services (ITS) director at the School. “His content and delivery style were so polished that he was invited to develop an Excel overview workshop for incoming Executive MBA (EMBA) students. This workshop has now become a part of EMBA’s standard orientation program. In less than a year, Jesse has had a major and lasting impact on our ITS services.”
With so many accomplishments already under his belt, what does Jesse plan to do next?
“I want to be in a position to support startups and people who have great ideas, either financially or as a mentor. Capital is often the biggest obstacle to good ideas.”
This summer Jesse will start working for a small venture capital firm in New York. “I feel blessed to have such an opportunity, especially this early in my career.”