Landing a job with Goldman Sachs is at the top of Nora Jabbour’s (BSBA ’06, MBA ’14) list of greatest professional achievements.
“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to work at a place like this,” says Jabbour, a private wealth advisor in the investment management division at Goldman Sachs. She advises high net-worth clients, nonprofits and institutions on asset management items, investment advice and financial planning.
Before she went into finance, basketball was a big part of her life, first in high school as a player and then as a manager for the UNC women’s basketball team during her Undergraduate Business Program studies at UNC Kenan-Flagler. After graduating from UNC in only three years, she joined the Washington Wizards in its marketing department. She went on to serve as an assistant coach at the U.S. Military Academy, Emory University and Appalachian State University.
“Coaching women’s basketball is an interest and passion of mine but I didn’t want to make it a career,” Jabbour says, who returned to UNC Kenan-Flagler to earn her MBA.
“When I came back to the Business School, I wanted to evaluate all of the different career paths but knew I wanted two things: to be in and around the financial markets, or finance broadly, and to be in a client-facing position, directly working with and advising clients.”
“It was important for me to explore all of the different career options and have conversations with the spectrum of alumni and corporate recruiters that came to campus,” Jabbour says. That’s when she realized private wealth management was a field where she could have direct impact on clients and explore her passion for finance.
Living and working in Philadelphia, Jabbour knows switching careers from basketball to private wealth management would have been more difficult without earning her MBA.
“I don’t think I would be in the position I’m in now without my time at UNC Kenan-Flagler,” Jabbour says. She also credits the School’s strong alumni network for helping her land her dream job.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of networking,” Jabbour says. “I’m not certain there was any other path for me to have successfully changed careers without the strength and support of the Kenan-Flagler alumni network.” Having established UNC Kenan-Flagler alumni already working at Goldman Sachs helped, too.
One of the reasons Jabbour loves working at Goldman is that she’s continuously challenged.
“Every day when at work, I am pushed to grow and develop by the people around me, by the strength and intellect of the people at the firm, and the passion my colleagues exude in providing excellent advice and service to our clients,” she says. “I am naturally curious and I enjoy being challenged by the many people around me who are experts in their fields.”
While the Business School prepared her for a career in private wealth management, it also opened the door to love. She met her wife, Lauren Cruz (MBA ’15), marketing manager at DePuy Synthes, at UNC Kenan-Flagler. (Cruz is shown at right with Jabbour and her godson.)
“Business School is about getting to know other people and some of the strongest memories I have are from outside the classroom, engaging with classmates at Blue Cup events, dinner parties and various social events. We also have a growing group of friends who have also married someone they met in our business school class, and that is always special,” she says.
She describes her experience as “spending time with a driven, diverse and caring group of peers,” she says. “It was just an exceptional environment to learn and grow, personally and professionally.”
UNC Kenan-Flagler is a place she loves coming back to. After graduating, Jabbour wanted to stay involved at the School and joined the Alumni Council.
“A big part of why I joined the Alumni Council is to stay engaged and connected to the School, whether that’s through admissions, fundraising or support of local UNC Kenan-Flagler chapters. The other part of our work is to share insights from what we’re seeing in the marketplace as corporate recruiters and to provide feedback from alumni,” says Jabbour. “It’s imperative to continually develop the brand of the School and the Alumni Council is a part of that effort.”
It’s also about building and maintaining relationships.
“Don’t undervalue the bonds and relationships with the people closest to you because they will likely be the first ones helping you when you may need it the most,” Jabbour says. “In my experience, you’re only as good as the people you have around you.”