In a bull versus bear Wall Street atmosphere, Bob Doll ’76 is feeling optimistic that financial markets are going to rise. The chief equity strategist for Fundamental Equities at BlackRock shared his viewpoint with alumni and guests at An Economic and Investment Update held April 25 at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
Presented by Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics and the Wall Street Council (WSC) Executive Committee, Doll discussed global economy and the equity and fixed income markets, the impacts of the European debt crisis, and forecasted the increase of the U.S. gross domestic product, a measurement of the goods and services the country produces.
President Alice Gast emphasized the importance of offering students different learning opportunities, citing Lehigh’s Integrated Business and Engineering honors program, and Integrated Product Development as examples of Lehigh’s interdisciplinary courses.
“When we think about people like Bob Doll and his ability to connect the dots, his ability to integrate information from disparate sources, we think about our students today, and what the dots will be like to connect and where the information will be coming from in ten years, in 20 years,” she said. “We need to provide those opportunities that cause students to really seek information…to want to be life-long learners…to take their Lehigh education and have it be something that really affects their entire life.”
Doll, who received a B.S. in Accounting and a B.A. in Economics degree from Lehigh, said he switched majors three or four times. He said that being able to take courses across all undergraduate colleges at Lehigh “rounds people out” and makes them far better prepared to get a job and be successful.
“I started in the Arts and Science College. I ended up taking more courses in the Business College than anywhere else. And I even took some industrial engineering courses. So the beauty of that, and that breadth in my judgment, was a great preparation for what I am doing today,” he said.
The event also showcased the Financial Services Lab in the Rauch Business Center. Founded in 2004, the lab simulates the fast-paced atmosphere and tools of the financial industry. It offers students hands-on experience with real-time technology, software, and data. It is a state-of-the-art classroom and research facility that also provides faculty with relevant immediate data, news and analytics to inform their research and curricula.
“The FSL gives the firms who hire our students a competitive edge,” said Paul Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics. “Lehigh graduates walk into their first job or internship with a solid understanding of the industry’s premier tools and resources.”
Doll thinks Lehigh’s Financial Services Lab is just fantastic.
“When I saw it, I was just blown away,” he said. “The ability for those students, along with professors’ care, to see what the real world looks like is pretty amazing. I can’t imagine that too many schools have anything that special.”
Doll’s presentation, sponsored by the WSC, the College of Business and Economics, and the generosity of Chris Hite ’89 and Jeff Enslin ’88, was the seventh annual spring event that the WSC has held. Started a decade ago, WSC’s mission is to bring together alumni, students, parents and friends of the university engaged in the financial services industry. Several networking and professional development events are scheduled each year and include the Financial Forum where WSC members return to campus to mentor students who are preparing to enter the working world.
“It is just as important to prepare students in a practical sense as it is to prepare them in the classroom,” said Andrew Fife ’85, WSC president. “During the Financial Forum, we tell them the dos and don’ts in an interview. How to present yourself. How to follow up and how to use the Lehigh network.”
The buzz after Doll’s presentation and Q & A was apparent. Financial leaders from such notable companies as Morgan Stanley and Bank of America were deep in discussion over unpredictable variables and effects in the industry.
“Bob Doll is unique in the fact that he has a perspective on the size and the power of international markets that a lot of other people fail to recognize,” said David Beard ’80, ’11P. “Bob understands the underlying power which is why he’s been so successful in picking the path of the economy in the equity markets on a go-forward basis.”