New College alumnus Alan Friedman (1976)Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I have a very successful life.  I have a wonderful family.  I have a fulfilling career.  I am surrounded by loyal and devoted friends.  And after all the years since I was a student at New College, I’m still learning something new every day.

 

Why did you choose New College (be honest) and what were your expectations?

I took the wise council of my high school Latin teacher Mr. Fraser.  He had an uncanny way of understanding his students.   He felt New College best suited my personality; and thought I would enjoy, and benefit from, its challenging environment.

As for my expectations, I had none.  In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect; and, frankly, I don’t know how one would.  University is a very different experience than high school, and I was very naive.

 

What was New College like when you came?

I found it intimidating.  University of Toronto was known for its high standards; and I wasn’t sure I could live up to them.

And therein lies an important life lesson that you could say New College taught me:  have faith in your ability.  Embrace the moment (carpe diem).  And the more I immersed myself the more enriching my experience became.

 

What are some of your strongest memories from your time at New?

I tend not to have regrets.  But if I am sorry about anything, it’s the fact that I rarely participated in all the social aspects that are part of the University or College experience.

Money was tight in my family, I had a brother who was also in University, and I was at New College to learn.  So I studied.  And I spent time at the library.

I also lived at home.  So I missed the experience of going to school out of town — that whole living on campus, living in a dorm adventure.

Regardless, I came away with what has become a life-long love of learning.

 

How did your academic and social experience at the University/College prepare you for life and your career?

First and foremost, I grew up.  I also discovered that I loved a challenge (my high school Latin teacher was so right).  It was also at New College that I learned, and learned to appreciate, clarity of thought; and also figured out that regardless of what I ended up doing professionally, it would have to be something I was passionate about.  And it was also where I began to determine the work ethic that remains with me to this day.

 

Tell us about some of the lessons you learned and how valuable they are today?

I took a lot of economics courses, which most certainly had a role to play in my eventual choice of a career in finance.   Once I was out in the ‘real world,’ the fact that I was a New College graduate did help open doors.

But the most valuable learning for me was discovering that being successful in business isn’t just about knowing facts.  It takes good interpersonal skills.  It’s about building trust and understanding.  It’s about being a good communicator and also being a good educator — being able to pass acquired knowledge on to others and, to teach by example.

And it was the New College professors and teaching assistants, who showed me the way.  They were my first exposure to the how’s and why’s and what it takes for enduring success.

 

What was important to you then – what is important now?

My values have changed very little over the years.  I love what I do.  And I love the fact that it affords me the opportunity to have balance in my life:  Time for my clients, time for my family, time for me to give back to my community; and, last but not least, time for me to regularly review, re-evaluate and re-balance my life priorities — ironically, not unlike what I do with my clients.  I have much to be thankful for.

 

In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?

I have to start by saying I feel very fulfilled.   I hope for a long life, surrounded by family and friends.  I hope to be able to continue to work in the financial industry – an industry that offers a never ending intellectual challenge and the ability to make a difference in peoples’ lives.