Looking back on a 14-year career on Wall Street, finance instructor Nick Iwanowycz admits that he often felt out of place as a Christian in the investment world. “You don’t have to tell people there that you are a Christian—they kind of know it,” he said. “They just assume by judging the way you behave that you’re not like them.”
“I would love to see Christians flood that arena,” he added, and he’s doing his part both inside and outside the classroom to help make that happen.
While in the investment world, Iwanowycz worked as a vice president for TD Securities where he dealt with international subsidiaries as well as TD Securities’ parent, TD Bank, headquartered in Toronto. He spent his days solving problems, offering advice, and completing numerous other tasks. Among these was the task of visiting colleges to find the most qualified graduates to hire.
Yet after 32 years in the professional workforce, including 18 years as an engineer before becoming an investment banker, Iwanowycz felt God leading him to change careers for a second time instead of retiring. “God had blessed me with so many opportunities. Rather than retire to a life of leisure, I felt led by God to come here and to impart something to Christian students.”
Now, instead of doing the hiring, Iwanowycz is the one helping prepare students for those competitive interviews with possible employers. Since Iwanowycz knows what interviewers are looking for, he feels confident that he also knows how to help his students. “That gives me a great advantage,” he said. “I’m not coming from a place where I’ve never seen the material that I teach. I’ve lived most of it, and I know how to prepare someone else.”
In addition to teaching various finance classes such as International Finance, Financial Modeling, and Corporate Finance II, Iwanowycz acts as a mentor for the student-led Finance Club, which was PCC’s first academic club, and as a faculty advisor for finance majors. As an advisor, Iwanowycz helps students find internships and answers questions they have about their program.
One thing Iwanowycz stresses to students is that he can’t teach them everything—they’ve got to have a strong “work ethic and a curiosity beyond school.”
This strong work ethic helped propel Iwanowycz through his own education and career, not only when getting his bachelor’s at Rutgers University and working as an engineer, but also when going back to school for an M.B.A. alongside his wife, Deborah Iwanowycz, while simultaneously raising three small children.
“We would rent a house outside Cornell,” Iwanowycz said, remembering those days. “We would walk up to school with them [their children], drop them off at school, and then walk up the hill the rest of the way to Cornell.”
“It worked out great. I think God was in it the whole way,” Iwanowycz said. “Everything just turned out perfectly.”
Now, as a teacher enabling the next generation of leaders, Iwanowycz uses these experiences to help his own students. “There’s no course here that isn’t important. I don’t care what you take—art, music, anything. One day you’re going to need that knowledge to talk to someone and make the deal,” Iwanowycz said explaining that people are wondering, “Am I comfortable with you? Can I trust you?”
This focus on connecting with others has helped Iwanowycz build relationships with his own students. “I root for them, and they know that,” Iwanowycz said. “They come to me and ask questions. ‘What should I do here? How should I present myself?’” Because of his own work experience, Iwanowycz can answer confidently. Although he is tough on his students in class, they eventually realize that he really is there to help them succeed and begin meeting with him for advice.
Since coming to PCC in 2014, Iwanowycz has been happy to see students graduate and land finance jobs where they are positioned to positively influence others and to make a difference on Wall Street. “That’s what I was hoping for. If I can touch the lives of five or six kids every year, then that’s what God wants me to do.”