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Home  > Insider profile
Matthew Hemsley
Investment Banking

"I think the biggest lessons I've learned is that you've got to check your ego at the door."

As children, we're all asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How did you answer?

I usually thought I would become a businessman. I think most of that stems from admiration for my father, and since I identified him simply as a businessman, that's what I wanted to be too.

What have been the most defining moments along your career path?

I think that the first real fork in the road came after my first job. The decision to enter investment banking after undergrad didn't seem like much a decision at all - if you were lucky enough to land one of the coveted Wall Street jobs, you took it. But after those two years on Wall Street, I definitely found myself in a dilemma. I figured that business school was in my future. The dilemma was what to do until then, since I didn't think I was ready. Choosing to take a road less traveled by going to Oxford for an accelerated masters degree in economic history was both a personally rewarding and competitively rewarding experience. I think it helped position me to get into b-school, and I had a once in a lifetime experience getting there.

How did you get your big breaks?

Hard work.

What was the best advice you received when you were first starting out in your career?

There's no such thing as a dumb question. Of course, that's not entirely true, but asking questions, lots of them, is usually better than trying to fake your way through a problem.

What have you learned from your experience?

I think the biggest lessons I've learned is that you've got to check your ego at the door. Once you enter some of the more elite institutions, be they on Wall Street or University Avenue, everyone is an all-star and there's no room for meaningless showmanship. I also think there's a lot of truth in following your heart, and not necessarily going into something that simply seems like the right thing to do. If your not passionate about your work, the long hours will never justify themselves.

What most excites you about your job right now?

I don't have a new job yet - six more months of business school to go!

What would you like to have achieved by the last day of your career?

I want to know that I've built something that will last beyond my career; to know that I've created something that has made the lives of others better. This can, of course, be widely interpreted.

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