John Giuffre was decompressing in his Foy Townhouse shower after wracking his brains for the solution to a complex research investment strategy that had stumped him for days. He recalls, “It was then in that shower, that everything just clicked. I understood how everything is constantly moving together—the fluid intricacies amidst the puzzle. All things in life, amidst this specific problem, just...everything.”
John is a senior finance major minoring in economics from Fairfield, New Jersey. His mother is a speech therapist and his father owns Di Sopra Restaurant in the nearby Jersey town of Caldwell. Stemming from his interaction with quality Italian food from a very young age, John is highly attuned to appreciating what factors contribute to the essence of a finished product.
“That’s a big thing about me. I strive to appreciate the amount of work, time and thought that goes into something. Take the example of a plate of food: if you add too much of one ingredient, it spoils the entire thing. But, if you happen to be the the better chef, you can turn it around. Likewise, if you buy a distressed company, you can turn it around. That’s how companies interact with one another.”
Boasting a background in sales, in high school John used to race mountain bikes and similarly worked for his team’s bicycle shop. As one of the youngest sales associates, he looks back on this experience as having a most formative impression, “Most of those people had been working there for their entire lives. It was then I realized that I needed to do what makes me happy. I need to work my own avenue.” During that time, he created his own product review and promotion website, GearTested.net, where he partnered with many companies around the U.S. in terms of advertising and marketing strategy. Although he did not have time to continue the business during college, GearTested.net served as the impetus to John’s lifelong love of trying.
John’s undergraduate experience has been unique due to constant interaction with older students and research opportunities with professors. Nonetheless, he would have transferred after the end of his freshman year, in pursuit of advice given by certain global business professor who recommended he study finance at an institution with a more “competitive” business program. That same week John met with his new advisor and business professor Dr. Helen Rothberg, who hinted that should he wait one more semester to make a final decision, she just might convince him to stay.
“Dr. Rothberg is the reason I didn’t send out any transfer applications. She started off as a mentor, but now is like a second mother to me,” John claims. Since that time, John has been heavily involved with Marist’s Investment Center located in the Hancock Building, expressing that working with senior and junior students from the time he was a sophomore changed his perspective. “I learned to admit ignorance,” he claims, as he continues, that harboring envy towards those who are wiser ‘is fruitless because ultimately their guidance can help with one’s personal approach.’
During the fall 2016 of his senior year, John flew to Belfast, Northern Ireland to present a paper with his co-author Dr. Rothberg, at the 17th European Conference on Knowledge Management. The paper entitled, “The Outside Looking In: Do Activist Investor Knowledge Management Actions Pay Off?” addressed a group of academics interested in understanding how companies can better manage their internal resources.
“Activist investors have been coming under fire for adding little or no value to preexisting companies. Our research proves that their assistance can be valuable if done the right way, for the right reasons—with no ego or personal incentive involved.” John expresses that his research approach is fueled by an amalgamation of financial strategy and psychology. Individuals like to see themselves as independent and free thinking, but when it comes down to it, they change their minds in unified droves. Companies tend to reflect the same aptness.
He adds, “She [Rothberg] treated me as an equal throughout the entire project. There was no special treatment. It’s a very trusting relationship.” John expresses that the reason behind his coming to Marist was to be a big fish in a small pond—taking advantages of the many options at hand, and being able to solve issues on his own. “I don’t need to be constantly recognized for what I do. I just need to be where things happen, and I don’t prescribe to the easy road.”
“You can always find something that motivates you. What motivates me is the fact that I don’t like losing and I don’t like being wrong. If I have an idea, I make sure I arm myself with more information than I really need and continue to dig before I defend my opinion. I don’t prescribe to the easy road.”