Meet Ben Heyman ’22, a Finance major from Ellington, CT. Ben has spent his four years at Bryant University learning as much as he can about as much as he can—and building a toolkit that will help him create his own personal path to success. “To be a Bryant student means being the best version of yourself,” he notes. “Going to school here opens you up to so many different mindsets, perspectives, and opportunities.”
Through his core business studies, Ben explored a wide range of fields to find his best fit. “I think I decided my major at pretty close to the last possible minute,” he laughs. “I wanted to expose myself to as many opportunities and ideas as possible.” Opportunities like the PwC Challenge, which immerses students in accounting by having them tackle real-world problems, helped him try out a variety of subjects and professions.
In the end, he decided to focus on Finance because he enjoyed how it mixed analytics with working with others, but the diversity of thought he’s gained is still invaluable, he says. “Investing brings in everything from political science to economics,” notes Ben, who also added concentrations in Applied Analytics and Sport Studies, as well as a minor in Economics to his studies. “Learning about a wide range of areas really helps you to understand movements in the market and the areas to focus on.”
As a portfolio manager for Bryant’s $2.7 million student-run Archway Investment Fund (AIF), Ben had the opportunity to put his skills to the test. “There aren’t many other schools that give you this level of experience with real money. It’s a lot like having a first professional job while you’re still in college,” he notes. “You’re trading in the real market and trying to beat the actual benchmarks.”
“What sets Bryant’s Finance department apart is that so many members of the faculty have a professional background and bring that experience with them to the classroom.”
“It’s kind of scary at the beginning and it feels like a lot of pressure,” Ben says. “But then you and the other portfolio managers start trusting each other and—because your classmates trust you—you begin to trust yourself and the decisions you make.”
His previous Finance courses gave him the background he needed to navigate a complicated and tumultuous financial market. “What sets Bryant’s Finance department apart is that so many members of the faculty have a professional background and bring that experience with them to the classroom,” he notes. “It helps you see investing from a variety of different perspectives and analyze it from different angles.”
The AIF faculty, Executive in Residence and Lecturer of Finance Kevin Maloney and Professor of Finance and Department Chair Asli Ascioglu, helped him take that knowledge to the next level. “The Archway professors are there to provide you with the information you need but they also push you out of your comfort zone and make sure you keep working to find the right answer or come at things a little differently,” says Ben. “They emphasize that the most successful finance professionals are the ones that are always reconsidering things and keeping up to date.”
Ben has also been exploring outside the classroom. Passionate about volunteering and aiding others, he’s used the professional skills he’s gained to better the community as a member of Bryant’s Enactus social entrepreneurship group—and even traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to present the organization’s work. Through the Bryant Senior Advisory Committee and the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, he’s helped promote positive change on campus.
“One of the things they were looking for in interns were people that are well-rounded. I didn’t just have that in my studies but with my cocurricular involvements as well.”
Ben has been part of Bryant’s Student Alumni Association (SAA) for all four years of his time here and just finished his term as President of the organization. Through the SAA, he helped develop an alumni mentoring program and even found his own alumni mentor—Benjamin Healy ’09, Chief Operating Officer for Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group. Healy was also an AIF alum and provided information about his field and potential career paths. “That’s one of the best things about the connections you make,” he notes. “You get to know everyone and hear their stories and learn about their perspectives.”
One of the things Ben is most proud of during his time at Bryant is helping to organize this year’s Festival of Lights, the University’s annual celebration of holiday traditions from around the world. As the senior member of the SAA’s Executive Board, he was able to guide the younger members of the organization in creating an event that brought together the entire Bryant community.
Building a career
The University community also aided Ben in furthering his career. When Assistant Professor of Finance Cathy Zheng, Ph.D., encouraged her students to get involved in the many finance-related seminars and programs Bryant holds on campus, Ben visited an informational session on The Hartford hosted by Bryant alumni. Intrigued by what he learned, he applied to the company’s early immersion program, which led to an internship.
“One of the things they were looking for in interns were people that are well-rounded,” says Ben. “I didn’t just have that in my studies but with my cocurricular involvements as well.” Ben’s versatility impressed his supervisors and he worked on teams focused on both finance and accounting, demonstrating that he could thrive in a variety of situations.
“The Hartford has a similar mindset to Bryant where they let you spread your wings, find you best fit, and achieve everything you’re capable of.”
The group projects he completed at Bryant, and his time in Archway, also helped him to excel. “Finance is very group-oriented, and it requires you to know how to work as a team,” says Ben. “One of the biggest advantages you develop here is learning how to work with others and build consensus.”
For his final presentation as an intern, Ben’s team developed ideas for how The Hartford could utilize software platforms more efficiently. He drew upon the experience he acquired from Bryant’s IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) program to brainstorm and his concentration in Applied Analytics to present his team’s ideas effectively. “Bryant really does encourage you to innovate, embrace different ideas and really consider the best ways to meet people’s needs,” he says.
The Hartford offered Ben a fulltime position with their Finance Early Career Leadership Development Program, which he happily accepted. Ben is looking forward to making his mark on his field as part of a highly successful Fortune 500 company and values The Hartford’s emphasis on volunteering and helping the community. “I’m excited about all the different possibilities,” he says. “The Hartford has a similar mindset to Bryant where they let you spread your wings, find you best fit, and achieve everything you’re capable of.”