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Meet the mentor: Reginald Seawright (2015)

Jesus College has an innovative Careers and Mentoring Programme matching current students and recent alumni with experienced alumni and leaders in their fields. One of our mentors, Reginald Seawright (2015), tells us more about his career, his mentoring experience, and his advice for others about to embark on the mentoring process.

Tell us more about your academic and professional journey

My journey has been a mosaic of diverse experiences, encompassing engineering, consulting, and private equity.  Before enrolling at Cambridge, I completed business studies in Germany and worked at Siemens, a leading technology conglomerate. My tenure at Jesus College, where I pursued a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering, was exceptionally rewarding. The college offered not just an outstanding academic environment but also a vibrant community that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was particularly drawn to the international makeup of the student body and the rich diversity of thought it fostered.
This environment motivated me to enter management consulting after graduation. I sought to remain part of a highly motivated and intellectually stimulating group, tackling complex business challenges.

Can you tell us more about your experiences working at McKinsey and what lead you to move into finance after that?

During my time at McKinsey, I worked across Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. The work at McKinsey was multi-faceted and ranged from improving the service experience at car dealerships to refining the sales strategy of a cement company or the organizational setup of a pet food retailer. McKinsey provided not only excellent mentors who were invested in my personal development but also opportunities to form many lifelong friendships. I strongly believe in the joy of doing what you love alongside people you admire and enjoy working with.

After three years, I decided to expand my horizons by pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School. Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the experience proved invaluable. I was able to learn from my classmates and build relationships with professors, who some of them still serve as mentors to this day. The MBA enabled me to deepen my knowledge in areas like finance, build new connections, and explore personal interests such as art history and programming. This period also offered a chance to reflect on my professional and personal future trajectory.

After the MBA, I returned to McKinsey, where I led diverse teams, collaborated closely with clients, participated in recruiting, and contributed to expanding the firm's knowledge base. Eventually, I decided to move into finance and now serve as a Vice President at a technology-focused private equity firm, where I invest in and partner with founders. This role has been immensely fulfilling, allowing me to work closely with interesting companies, aiding their growth through capital, strategic, and operational guidance. My team and I spend a lot of time forming investment theses, gaining conviction for spaces such as cybersecurity, fintech, or education technology and then developing relationships with strong founders. This role has been perfect for satisfying my natural curiosity and constantly challenging my assumptions.

How has mentoring been important in your own life and what would be your advice to others?

Throughout my career, mentors have been crucial, particularly when faced with tough decisions such as career changes. Their guidance has been invaluable. For those seeking mentorship, I recommend being clear about your goals – whether you're looking for short-term guidance or a long-term relationship. Aim to build a personal connection with your mentor, beyond a mere transactional relationship. You might be surprised by how much you can contribute; mentors often value thoughtful and challenging inquiries. When reaching out, be considerate and articulate clearly how their experiences resonate with you and how they could support you.

My journey from Jesus College has been both challenging and fulfilling. I urge you to remain open and seize all the opportunities and connections that Cambridge offers. Remember, every experience shapes you, and every individual you encounter can impart valuable lessons. 

Reginald can be contacted on Jesus Connect the College's mentoring and networking platform. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to Reginald Seawright (2015).