By Ashwin Narra
The School of Business virtually hosted their monthly business leaders talk on Nov. 5: a one-hour seminar open to all students from the College.
Every month, the College brings in alumni who have flourished in their respective field to offer insight for students. This month’s talk was cosponsored by the financial management association, and featured Stephanie Avakian (‘92), who is currently the co-director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Enforcement.
Avakian grew up in New York City and was deeply interested in the law system from a young age. She received her bachelor’s degree from the College and a law degree from Temple University. Coming out of law school, Avakian worked at the SEC as an investigator and counsel.
Her day-to-day job consisted of gaining experience and knowledge on the crime and fraud side of financial markets in the U.S. She focused on numerous security and fraud cases.
“Being a good lawyer takes a lot of trial and error, with many learning curves as well,” Avakian said.
As she became more experienced through her work with the SEC, Avakian joined a private practice named Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, where she represented financial institutions, public companies and individuals with matters pertaining to the SEC. She worked on many cases relating to violations of security laws. In 2014 she returned to the SEC where she is now the co-director of the division.
During the talk, Avakian explained to students that cyber crime is a large threat to financial markets, and is a growing issue that scammers use to steal money. As Avakian has become increasingly experienced in the SEC, she said that there are many issues with the U.S. stock market.
“A growing issue with many public companies in the market is that they must be honest about their stocks, investments and risks,” she said.
She explained how many companies are dishonest about their stock, investments and risk numbers. Companies also are not returning all of the money owed to investors, which gives an unfair advantage for some companies.
Avakian provided great insight for students who asked about her career path, and advised students to follow their dreams when it comes to picking a major and pursuing a career. She said that her profession is extremely competitive, and the only way to succeed with it is through passion and hard work.
Tanay Sooram ‘23, attended the seminar and found inspiration from Avakian.
“Mrs. Avakian’s journey from attending TCNJ to becoming such an important part of the country’s financial markets shows that I myself can achieve my dreams with the help of the platform that TCNJ provides its students,” she said.