Alumnus Spotlight: Garrett Walker, Class of '18 and Giving Back with his own Scholarship
By Blake Parry, Intern
TAMPA (April 30, 2020) -- With two bachelor’s degrees and a few years of experience, Garrett Walker is already making his mark in the world of wealth management. Now, he is ready to make an impact on the lives of Business Bulls with his very own scholarship.
Walker’s journey from timid high schooler to outgoing businessman with his own scholarship began when he first arrived on campus, when he participated in a Selected Saturday event. He was lost, confused and stumbling around campus looking for a financial aid session when he happened upon a Business Honors program meeting. At the time, his intended major was criminology, but after engaging in conversation with Jodi Jones, associate professor with the ISDS Department, he was convinced to join the Business Honors program.
“I wouldn’t have ever attended USF without Dr. Jones’ influence,” Walker said. “She is a saint and I appreciate her so much. She was my Business Honors Program director and my thesis adviser, so I literally wouldn’t have graduated without her guidance. Had I not stumbled into the wrong information session that day, I would never have studied business and would not be engaging in a career that I love.”
Along with Jones, he credits Honors College Professor Benjamin Young, Finance Department professor Leo Chen and Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem for their roles in changing his worldview and being crucial parts of his development as both a person and a businessman.
Walker graduated in May of 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in marketing and finance. As he grew more comfortable on campus, his confidence grew and he became involved with a number of clubs and organizations. He was a Green and Gold guide, a member of the Executive Board in the Center of Leadership & Civic Engagement, an American Marketing Association member, a member of the USF Business Honors Program and USF Student Government and, finally, the treasurer for Alpha Sigma Phi’s Zeta Omicron Chapter.
There were many defining moments in Walker’s time at USF that led him to his career today, but the most crucial was his first pitch in the Applied Security Analysis program.
“The pitch was looking like it was going to be a disaster,” Walker said. “No one was working well together, the analysis was returning poor results and the presentation was non-existent.” But, the team worked hard and was able to regroup, work together and salvage the presentation. His team ended up with the most votes from the advisory panel.
“Overcoming the issues that we faced and delivering a successful pitch,” he said, “gave me the confidence to pursue a career in the field of investments.”
And pursuing a career in the investments field is exactly what he did.
Walker’s investment career began in January 2018 when he accepted an internship with local Tampa wealth management firm, Jaffe Tilchin. Walker went on to accept a full-time position with the company before graduation and just two years later, he has worked his way up to senior research associate for the firm. The variability in his current position is what he loves most.
“I’m not always facing clients, but I’m not always performing operational work either,” he said. “Right now I’m living in the best of both worlds.”
By virtue of working at a smaller firm, Walker said, he gets to “wear a lot of different hats.” He doesn’t really have a normal day; he gets to work on new things all the time.
“Since my role has evolved substantially over the past year-and-a-half, my responsibilities change frequently,” he said. “Since the beginning of 2020, I have been splitting time as the senior research analyst and junior financial adviser as I transition to building my own book of business.”
Walker is passionate about all things USF. He is still on campus multiple times a week and regularly visits with the Dean Limayem. At a recent event, Limayem joked that Walker will one day have a building named after him; and with everything Walker has done so far, that could become a real possibility.
And now, just two years removed from graduation, Walker has begun giving back to his alma mater by establishing his own scholarship in the Muma College of Business.
“The goal of the scholarship is two-fold,” Walker said. “I want to give back to the Bulls Business Community, a program that gave me so much; and I want to incentivize and reward high-performing students who want to become mentors and take the position seriously.”
As far as his career goes, he said, he plans to, “just keep grinding.”
“I have been afforded the opportunity to set myself up for great success and as long as I keep my nose to the grindstone, the rewards will come,” he said. “Down the road, I’d like to have a substantial book of business within the wealth management field and I would like to eventually own my own registered investment adviser firm.”