Pierre Nicolas ’99

Pierre Nicolas ’99

Relationship Executive, Global Financial Institutions, BNY Mellon

Blending Tech and Finance

I thought my background in engineering and computer science would carry me my entire career. Then two friends from the National Society of Black Engineers went to the Business School and insisted that I’d need an MBA to get to the next level. I watched them excel and my interest was piqued. 

The New York Advantage 

People talk about the New York advantage. Hands down, it’s real. Friday, when you don’t have class, you can take the subway to any of the world’s best companies to meet with senior executives and explore career opportunities. 

The Power of the Network 

I explored other schools, but the Columbia experience is what sold me. When I went to prospective-student events and met other applicants, I thought, I’d like to learn with these people. One of my best friends from Columbia helped me get the job I have now. That is 100 percent the Columbia network. 

A Promise to Give Back 

When I applied to the School I made a commitment that if I were admitted I would give back. I remember writing in my essay that I wanted my success to be measured not only by what I’d accomplished but by how much I’d helped other people accomplish their own goals. 

Inspired Early On 

My family immigrated from Haiti when I was 8. We lived in Crown Heights—it was a humble beginning. But my mother never turned down a request from someone who needed money. She once received a letter from a family in the Caribbean whose child needed surgery, and she promptly sent money. It turned out the letter wasn’t even meant for her; it was for a neighbor. She’d sent money to a stranger. That’s how I was raised: to give back. 

An Offer of Support 

I see myself as a guardian at the gate when it comes to recruiting the best students. I want Columbia to win. I’ve even converted a couple potential Wharton students to Columbia! Currently, I’m most involved in the School’s African American Alumni Association. 

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