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Building a Future in Finance

Banking on her Syracuse University education, a junior plans to make inroads for women on Wall Street.

Portrait of Gabriella Esposito
Gabriella Esposito ’22, an aspiring investment banker, gets hands-on training through her membership in the Orange Value Fund, a student-run hedge fund in the Whitman School.

Growing up on Staten Island, Gabriella Esposito ’22 spent many Saturdays accompanying her dad to his banking job in Brooklyn. Throughout the day, she would probe him for information about what he did. “I tried to answer her questions, but she always had more for me,” recalls Joseph V. Esposito, a retired associate vice president at HSBC.

Today, Gabriella’s curiosity remains unfettered. A junior at Syracuse University, she is double majoring in finance and marketing management in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management . Her goal is to become a Wall Street investment banker, joining the growing ranks of women in the notoriously male-dominated field.

Esposito’s father supports her plans wholeheartedly. “He is my biggest fan,” says Gabriella, who recently accepted a summer internship as an analyst in Citigroup’s Markets and Securities Services division in Manhattan. “My dad wants what’s best for me and agrees that I have what it takes to succeed.”

All in the Family

Speaking by phone from her room in the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house, Esposito admits that father-daughter talks often turn to business and the training needed to succeed in today’s ever-changing financial sector. “I want to have as many options as possible after college,” she says, “and that starts with getting hands-on experience during college.” Hence, her recent admission to the highly competitive Orange Value Fund (OVF), a student-run, $5.5 million hedge fund in the Whitman School.

For students like Esposito, OVF doubles as a two-year training program. Much of the emphasis is on security and business analysis as well as portfolio management. The work, she says, is rigorous and rewarding. “I am in awe of the achievements of my fellow analysts and am grateful to be surrounded by such extraordinary individuals.”

Esposito also prides herself on membership in the Renée Crown University Honors Program , which she joined prior to her sophomore year. She credits the illustrious program with refining her academic and career goals.

Currently, Esposito is laying the groundwork for her capstone thesis project, exploring gender equity in financial services leadership and the historical role of women in the finance industry. “We need to cultivate more female executives,” says Esposito, whose role models include Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, the first female president of a major U.S. bank. “Women are a growing force in business, as customers and key leaders.”

Esposito’s coursework goes beyond finance. One of her favorite Honors courses is Quilts and Community, taught by Susan S. Wadley, professor emerita of anthropology. Under Wadley’s guidance, Esposito has completed her first handmade quilt, destined for the arms of a locally resettled refugee child. “I can’t wait for their family to receive my quilt, along with pictures capturing the journey of my sewing it together,” Esposito smiles. “Being in Honors has shown me who I am and what I value. It also has reminded me of the importance of giving back.”

Gabriella Esposito sits in collaboration room at table with laptop wearing a mask.
Esposito is respected by students and faculty alike.

Real-World Ready

Not even a pandemic has diminished Esposito’s passion for discovery. In addition to pursuing a minor in information technology and management in the School of Information Studies , she participates in the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity. Esposito also serves as a panelist on the conduct review board of the University’s Academic Integrity Office .

Esposito’s care for others is underscored by her role as head of social media for Service Dogs at Syracuse , a student organization that “holds a special place in [her] heart.” In fact, her family recently raised a service dog for the blind and visually impaired that is now working in Virginia.    

Credit Esposito’s parents for instilling in her a strong work ethic and unwavering sense of civic responsibility. Her father, a first-generation Italian American, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her Mexican-born mother, Lucia, works for the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in New York City.

The youngest of three girls (including Bianca ’19), Gabriella learned self-advocacy at an early age. “In school, she realized that raising her hand to speak could yield immediate answers to questions and help ensure good grades,” Joseph says.

I want to have as many options as possible after college, and that starts with getting hands-on experience during college.

—Gabriella Esposito ’22

It’s no surprise that all three Esposito siblings graduated from high school in the top 2% of their classes. A consummate straight-A student, Gabriella also excelled on the field (varsity soccer and lacrosse) and in the community. Among the many nonprofits she volunteered for were GlamourGals Foundation, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Building Bridges Coalition and Canine Companions for Independence.

That she did all this without missing a day of high school is a point of pride. “It’s an amazing accomplishment that demonstrates her self-discipline and commitment,” Joseph adds.

Jenna Fusco ’22 is not surprised by her roommate’s success, noting her unshakable confidence. “Gaby is one of the smartest, most hard-working people I know. She also knows how to stand up for herself and speak her mind,” says Fusco, who rushed Gamma Phi Beta with Esposito in 2018. “Gaby goes to the ends of the earth for the people she loves and cares about. I can’t picture my life without her.” 

Rob Enslin

This story was published on .


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