In Fords in Four, we ask an alumnus four questions; he shares insights and stories. In this blog post, Nicholas Dodds '07, high net worth client manager at Vanguard, shares how his careers in finance and coaching soccer both got their starts at Haverford, and gives advice to current students and young alums on how to make the most of their Haverford experience.
Can you recount an influential faculty member from your time at Haverford?
Carol O’Brien was my Upper School science teacher. I came to Haverford as a Fifth Former. Because of the way my previous school’s credits were set up, I had to take AP-level - Form VI physics instead of Form III physics. Ms. O’Brien helped mentor me and set me up for success. She taught me how to work to my strengths, deal with ambiguity, and to have the confidence in my ability to understand and succeed at any task.
Stephen Patrylak’s finance and accounting classes helped me realize what I wanted to do with my professional career. I had grown up in an entrepreneurial family, so I knew I was interested in being a business major, but his classes helped me figure out my specialization. The introduction to these financial topics inspired me to want to learn more about them and some concepts that I learned from his classes are used on a daily basis.
Lastly, the spark for my interest in coaching was also started at Haverford. Antonio Fink let me be an assistant coach for the Form II soccer team during my senior year. I saw it as an opportunity to be a role model for the younger students, not just on the field as a player, but actually working with them and helping them get better.
Talk about your work as a soccer coach. What lessons do you hope your players learn from you?
Soccer gave me so many opportunities in my life and being able to give that back through coaching is something that means a lot to me. It has provided me a platform to help influence the lives of the players I coach to make them better people, not just athletes. I have worked with many local clubs in the area (LMSC, CFC, and Philadelphia Union Pre-Academy). This year, I started my own summer soccer academy which provides additional training focused on speed & agility, technical ball skills mastery, and tactical awareness.
In terms of what I hope to impart to the players, I want them to learn the values of teamwork, hard work, dedication, and confidence. I believe that if each player can understand the power of those values, it will set them up to be successful in all matters of life. I believe that one of the most important things in life is to be able to work in a team – when they get older, they won’t always get to choose the team that they’re working with, so they have to be adaptable, work hard, and be dedicated to the tasks in front of them for the benefit of the entire team.
Haverford gives you the unique ability to experience a community that can stay with you for your entire life. In both the teams I manage at work and the teams that I coach, I am aiming to create that sense of community and inclusivity that I experienced at Haverford.
How do you stay connected to the Haverford community?
I’m involved with the Young Alumni Committee at Haverford that was started with my fellow 2007 classmates Thomas Lindberg and Chris Aitken. It’s been a really great way to give back and help show current students and recently graduated alums what strong ties we created. Haverford can open up endless possibilities for your professional career and help you sustain lifelong friendships.
The Alumni Networking Event was an idea I had four years ago, to help connect current college students, recent graduates, and older alums to make connections and get to know each other. I adopted the model from a similar initiative I started at Vanguard. Haverford’s alumni network is unique and covers almost every industry. There is always someone for you to reach out to for guidance on how they carved their path to success and some valuable lessons they learned along the way. I hope alums are able to gain some insights to help them succeed in their current roles or even build the courage to make a career change because of the experience after interacting with the Haverford community.
What advice do you have for current students and young alumni?
Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves and I really feel like Haverford gives you the unique ability to experience a community that can stay with you for your entire life. In both the teams I manage at work and the teams that I coach, I am aiming to create that sense of community and inclusivity that I experienced at Haverford. I would tell current students – as much as you put into Haverford, you will get out 10 times more. Your advisors, teachers, and coaches are all trying to help you succeed. You need to be comfortable asking for help. Once you get that feedback, you need to put in the effort to make a difference. Haverford is a great launching point to differentiate yourself and be the best you can be as you move forward in life. For alums, I would tell them to stay involved with the School. Come out to an athletic event, or a play, or just be involved – it means a lot to current students to see your enthusiasm for the School. They love it as much as you did when you were here.