Headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth introduced the 40th H. K. Douglas Cotton Lecture on Wednesday, April 6, reminding the students of the lecture’s origins in 1979. Mr Cotton thought “it was important for Gilman students to be exposed to the world of business.”
The first speaker, Greg Bader ’93, shared, “When I was back at Gilman, one of my absolute passions was baseball.” He always knew he wanted to make a career in baseball, but with limited athletic abilities, he wasn’t quite sure how he would make that happen.
Nevertheless, he has worked for the Baltimore Orioles since 1994. Now he is Senior Vice President of Administration and Experience, but he didn’t start out in that role, of course. His first job with the organization was as a public relations intern, a “great break” he got after his freshman year in college through a Gilman classmate’s father. Bader had been nice to this classmate, helping him with his math work in the sixth grade, he said, reflecting on how this simple act of kindness came back to pay him in spades.
His internship responsibilities included clipping articles about the Orioles and then creating photocopied packets of those clips for the executives. “I took this clip thing very seriously,” he remembered. He offered students advice about entry-level or menial jobs like that one: “If you’re given an opportunity to work in the place you love … do the job.”
“Twenty-eight years later, I’m going back to the ballpark that I came to as a freshman in college, and I get to have that same kind of excitement level,” he said. In his current position, Bader is one of five on a senior leadership team running the day-to-day business operations of the club. He doesn’t clip articles anymore; rather, he is involved in business strategy, marketing and advertising, special events, and creative content development.
He emphasized the importance of his Gilman education in getting him to where he is today, and he listed several members of the Orioles organization who are fellow Gilman alumni. Every spring, they host a Gilman student for his Senior Encounter.
“Last time I was here,” he said, standing at the podium in the Alumni Auditorium, “I gave my senior speech about setting your own path and expectations.” He had the same message for the students in front of him at the Cotton Lecture: “Chart your own path … if you can find your passion and make a career out of it, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.”
The second speaker, Arif Joshi ’94, Managing Director at Lazard Asset Management in New York, said that after listening to Bader, he realized what he needed to share with the students. “While Greg ran towards something, I ran away. And where I found myself was on Wall Street.” He explained that he comes from a family “full of doctors” but had no interest in following in their footsteps. “I knew exactly what I didn’t want,” he said.
He ended up applying early to the Wharton School of Business only because he heard another GIlman student had done so. His first job out of college was in an emerging markets fund. It was only after six months of working there that he realized emerging markets were about bonds — and not stocks as he previously had thought. “I got to where I am today by not knowing what I wanted to do,” as well as “a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work,” he said.
He explained what he does in his current job — investing wealthy institutions’ and individuals’ money around the world — and said he prepared a speech on “how to make you guys rich,” both financially and in terms of character.
On the financial front, he talked about real estate and explained how buying a house can generate wealth over time as the property appreciates. Then he talked about the stock market and how “you want to be buying when others are selling and selling when others are buying.”
When it comes to becoming rich in character, Joshi recommended investing time and effort into relationships with “people different from you,” noting that the core interests of most people around the world are the same.
“The goal of immersing yourself in other people’s life stories is to build bridges,” he said. “I would encourage all of you guys to say yes” — to community service, to organized sports, to studying abroad, to hosting an exchange student, and other opportunities that arise. “Say yes to anything that will help you hear someone else’s perspective.”
Watch the lecture below.