Giannakopoulos ’04 Finds her Niche at Global Investment Management Company
Simela Giannakopoulos '04 is proof that hard work and persistence pay off.
Currently, she is an assistant vice president and investment risk analyst at Wellington Management, working in the Investments and Risk Management Group. In addition to covering the equity asset class across the firm, she is the analyst on her team's strategic solutions multi-managed funds and is responsible for the day-to-day cash flow management of those funds, as well as day-to-day organizational tasks, such as mentoring and training new hires.
However, she wasn't afraid to start at the bottom of the corporate ladder. In late 2004, after spending some time traveling following graduation from Emmanuel with a degree in management, Giannakopoulos applied for a job at Wellington.
"There were limited roles open at the time, but I wanted to work there and to learn more about the various departments, so I took a temporary position that was offered to me," she said.
A few months later, when opportunities began to open up, she was selective and took her time to find the right department, her temporary role giving her the opportunity to navigate the firm and wait for new roles that fit her skills and interests. Giannakopoulos eventually took a position in the Equity Product Management Department, working with what she called "great mentors."
In 2007, two of her managers formed the Investment and Risk Management Group within Wellington and asked her to join them. As part of the original three-person team, Giannakopoulos became integral to the process of building an office from the ground up.
"It's been a great learning experience for me personally, to not only be a part of a new and expanding group and to watch the evolution of that process, but to also be at the forefront of a very timely industry trend," Giannakopoulos said. "After the recent financial crisis, risk management has been a hot topic within the industry."
Shortly after the departmental shift, Giannakopoulos worked her way up from an assistant to an analyst, then to a more senior analyst position before being promoted to an assistant vice president a few years ago.
In addition to her work at Wellington, Giannakopoulos completed a part-time MBA program at Boston College's Carroll School of Management in May 2012.
"I found the culture at Boston College to be very similar to Emmanuel and that made for a very easy transition back into the academic world," she said. "It was hectic juggling school and work at times, but it was a great experience and I learned a great deal."
At Emmanuel, Giannakopoulos loved the small community feel within the big city environment, the ability to develop close-knit lasting friendships with her peers and the close interaction with professors who always seemed to go above and beyond to make sure students were learning and thriving.
She focused primarily on courses in marketing, economics and financial management, but liked the flexibility that the liberal arts curriculum offered, especially in areas relevant to business, such as information technology.
"My IT training has proven to be helpful in my current role as we utilize various financial software applications on a daily basis," Giannakopoulos said. "Being exposed to different systems and applications during my undergraduate program made me feel more comfortable when learning financial software applications in my current role."
An internship at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, her first introduction to corporate life, also proved to be an invaluable experience. At the Fairmont, she was placed in the public relations department with Suzanne Wenz, a 1994 Emmanuel graduate and the hotel's current regional director of public relations for the northeastern United States and Bermuda.
"Not only did I work in the public relations office with Suzanne, who was an incredible mentor, but I also got the opportunity to help with projects in the marketing, accounting, and food & beverage departments," Giannakopoulos said. "I also helped out in the main office, working with the general manager of the hotel and his executive assistant. Although I later decided to pursue a career within the finance industry, I knew that I wanted to find a company with a similar culture to the Fairmont in terms of the level of professionalism and friendliness of the people."
March 2013 marked Giannakopoulos's eighth year at Wellington Management. She offered advice to current students looking to maintain longevity in their chosen company.
"Choose a stable company in an industry that interests you and that will offer continuous opportunities to learn and take on new challenges," she said. "Learn everything that you can about your firm and industry. No task should be too small or too big-people will recognize your dedication and willingness to help out wherever possible. Networking is also key. You don't have to know everything but knowing whom to contact to get answers and guidance is invaluable."