JOB TITLE: CEO and founder of CariClub
FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: My favorite memory from my time at Trinity was being admitted to the P.R.I.D.E. program as a sophomore. It was one of the first opportunities I had to cultivate leadership skills. My appreciation for the importance of diversity also was further solidified through P.R.I.D.E. and has become a value that CariClub as a whole holds dear. I had the added benefit of making great friends in the process.
What is CariClub?
CariClub is the world’s first and only premium networking platform that connects young professionals to causes they care about. Offered as an employee benefit, our unique social networking platform gives young professionals the opportunity to find a sense of purpose outside of work through philanthropic engagements and nonprofit board service.
Why was it important for you to start it?
Growing up, nonprofits played a very important role in my life and actually gave me the opportunity to attend Trinity College. I was born in St. Lucia and raised by my grandmother until I was 12, when my mother, a single parent, earned enough money for my sister and me to join her in Harlem. Without assistance from the educational nonprofit Prep for Prep, I wouldn’t have been able to attend Middlesex School and later Trinity. After I graduated from Trinity, like many of my classmates, I pursued a path on Wall Street and was struck by how many talented young professionals wanted to make a social impact but didn’t know how. After two years of mulling over this conundrum, I decided to leave my bulge-bracket banking job to start CariClub to introduce the nonprofits that shaped me to the co-workers they enabled me to have.
What are your favorite aspects of your work? What are the biggest challenges you face?
Starting your own company is like having a kid, and every day is a learning experience full of exciting new opportunities and challenges. This is especially true for me and CariClub because not only is it my own company but also the first platform of its kind—leading innovation in the space while facing unpredictable and unprecedented challenges. Being the first truly is a double-edged sword, but my belief in CariClub’s concept and love for what I do has made us not only last but also into the success we are today.
How did your time at Trinity help prepare you for what you do now?
My Trinity education was integral to the creation of CariClub. The liberal arts curriculum developed problem-solving and analytic skills that have been invaluable to all aspects of my life. But something uniquely special about Trinity is the support of the alumni network. So many remarkable Trinity graduates go above and beyond to help fellow Bantams. Jawanza Gross ’94 provided invaluable guidance as a mentor to me in my early days of working on Wall Street. Paul Raether ’68, H’14, P’93, ’96, ’01, former chair of Trinity’s Board of Trustees, was my lead investor and played a critical role in helping to shape CariClub into the platform it is today. Paul, along with celebrity restaurateur and fellow Trinity alum Danny Meyer ’80, P’20, were featured speakers at the first installment of CariClub Connect, our inaugural quarterly members-only cocktail mixer. Countless other Trinity graduates have been instrumental to the success of CariClub, including Todd Dagres ’82, Sophie Bell Ayres ’77, P’12, and Christine Elia ’96, and I am so grateful to them all.
What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity?
My first-year seminar, “Changing Your Mind,” was my favorite class at Trinity, and Professor [of Psychology and Neuroscience] Sarah Raskin planted the seeds for what has grown to be an ongoing intellectual curiosity with social and behavioral neuroscience. Entering the financial services industry during the height of the financial crisis in 2008/2009 was an extremely humbling experience. I received a crash course on the gap between traditional Milton Friedman economics vs. economics in the “real world.” I found myself going back to a lot of what I learned from my first-year seminar with Professor Raskin to help make sense of the state of the financial markets at the time. Many of these lessons have carried over to my life as an entrepreneur in ways that I never anticipated.