The Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States at over 6 million acres. Growing up nearby in Saratoga Springs, New York has forged Jonathan Blake’s appreciation of nature and passion for hiking. At 5344 feet, Mt. Marcy stands as the tallest mountain in the park - typically taking 10 hours to complete. Jonathan has hiked numerous mountains in the Adirondacks so far, but aims to hike 39 more to complete the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, recognized as one of the greatest challenges in the Adirondack Park.
In hiking and his life as a student, Jonathan Blake yearns for these challenges.Life’s challenges are comparable to hiking a mountain. The commitment to continue climbing presents new obstacles such as fatigue, tough terrain, or lower air pressure. However, those who persist are rewarded with the boundless horizon found at the summit. Jonathan’s ambition and persistence have proved to be his greatest qualities, combining his passion for hiking and his achievements as an Eagle Scout to help him succeed in the challenging subject of mathematics.
His steadfastness and tireless work ethic has earned him an analyst position at Goldman Sachs upon graduation. Jonathan has enjoyed overcoming the complexity of mathematics from an early age. The notoriously difficult subject for many was intriguing for Jonathan, who would enroll in Marist as a double major in mathematics and business finance. Much of his success in mathematics derives from his mother and father, who have experience as a business teacher and engineer respectively. “My parents just wanted to make sure that I was always striving to be the best that I could be,” said Jonathan. “I’m always thankful for that, because I think it has helped me create the success I’ve had so far.”
Jonathan Blake's Childhood Image
“When you are halfway up, sometimes all you are thinking about is going home. But you just have to keep thinking about the summit that lies ahead, and not allow yourself to turn around.”
Jonathan also credits much of his character to his attainment of the Eagle Scout rank -- the highest award in Boy Scouting. Since 1912, only about four percent of men who were Boy Scouts have earned the award. According to Eagle Scouts: Merit Beyond the Badge, a Boy Scout must earn 21 merit badges, and “demonstrate citizenship and caring for his community and others, leadership qualities, and outdoor skills that show his self-sufficiency and ability to overcome obstacles.” Jonathan’s involvement in Boy Scouts proved to be a catalyst for his success, creating a foundation of characteristics necessary to excel in personal and professional life.
Jonathan participated in the eighth annual Duff and Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge in 2017 with two fellow School of Management juniors.The collegiate competition requires participants to use technical reasoning and critical thinking as they solve a complex transaction related to business deal-making. Jonathan’s team created a valuation presentation for Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) - analyzing the entertainment industry, HBO’s strategic position and acquisition opportunities for the private television network to calculate a fair market value for the company.
Jonathan and his classmates placed as top three finalists of 77 teams in the international competition, allowing them to present their findings to company executives and nationally recognized professors of finance at the Duff & Phelps headquarters in Manhattan. The Marist team was edged out for the top spot by the University of Wisconsin, but was still awarded a $6,000 scholarship prize.
Jonathan Blake understands that life is more than just grades and accolades—within his strong passion for the outdoors, which began during his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout. He has earned a position at Goldman Sachs upon graduation. He maintains a busy schedule, involved in intramural sports, the Student Government Association (SGA) Financial Board, investment club and tutoring. He strives to be his best self and make the most out of life—and while maintaining a busy schedule can be difficult at times, he would have it not other way.
“[The] competition was a great way for us to apply skills learned in the classroom and showcase them in a professional setting," Jonathan said to the School of Management. “Presenting our unique view on the strategic position of the company to executives in the industry, as well as distinguished faculty, was special. “I [also worked] with some of my good friends at Marist—it was a great experience.”
Jonathan captained a Marist College team in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge under faculty advisor Brian Haughey, Assistant Professor of Finance and Director of the Investment Center at Marist. The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Jonathan and his team analyzed Domino’s Pizza, Inc., writing a research report with a buy, sell or hold recommendation. The team competed in the Final-Four on March 2, 2018, presenting their research to a panel of high-profile Wall Street experts. Marist edged out 22 other teams to win the CFANY local competition, advancing to the Americas Regional competition which will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on March 19-20.
Jonathan is also currently working on an independent study focusing on the evaluation of European call options with Dr. Duy Nguyen, assistant professor of mathematics at Marist College. These formulas have roots in stochastic calculus, a branch of mathematics which allows the modeling of random systems, such as modeling the random motion of an asset price in the Black-Scholes model. “Jon is a fast learner. He is very passionate about mathematics and works extremely hard,” said Nguyen. “In addition, he is as cheerful as he is dedicated, universally liked and respected by his peers and the entire mathematics faculty.”
The Black-Scholes model was the first to evaluate these options. Mathematicians Myron S. Scholes and Robert C. Merton received The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1997. “A major reason I’ve been able to be successful in finance is because I understand the math behind it,” Jonathan said. “There’s always a mathematical justification at the core of any financial concept...It’s just a perfect marriage of my two interests.”
Jonathan strives to surround himself with highly motivated individuals and emphasizes the value in working as a team. “You may think that you have the best solution for something, but you have to be humble enough to look to your teammate and see what they see. Oftentimes, they may have a better idea than you,” he said. Jonathan co-founded the largest fraternity at Marist, Kappa Sigma, in 2015. Jonathan explains that it is composed of some of the most professionally-driven individuals he knows.
Though Jonathan is academically and professionally driven, he understands the importance of maintaining a balanced life. He sustains an extensive schedule through involvement in intramural sports, investment club and tutoring. Jonathan seized the opportunity to intern with Goldman Sachs last summer, and was humbled when offered a position at the company.
“[Goldman Sachs] is a very team-oriented setting, definitely meritocracy—you really get out what you put in. Everyone there is really striving to be the best, both for themselves and for the company and the clients – it’s a great atmosphere there,” Jonathan said. “New York City is the financial capital of the world – I feel very lucky to be able to go down there and work in finance – it’s unmatchable,” he said. Jonathan admits that he underestimated the amount of work it would take to get to this point—but he relates his journey to the many mountains he has hiked. “When you’re halfway up, sometimes all you’re thinking about is going home. But you just have to keep thinking about the summit that lies ahead, and not allow yourself to turn around,” he said.
Jonathan has continually pushed himself to climb higher, willingly embracing new challenges. “When you get to the summit, you can’t just happy with that—you must immediately start looking at other mountains to climb next.”