The Secret to Success? Love What You Do

Doug Peebles '87 shared wisdom—developed over his 30 years at a New York City asset management company—with Muhlenberg students visiting as part of the Career Road Trip.

By: Meghan Kita  Monday, October 2, 2017 04:02 PM

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Doug Peebles '87 (second from left) meets with students during the 2017 NYC Career Road Trip. Photo by Meghan Kita.

In a conference room 39 floors above Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue, with a wall of windows offering a sweeping view of Central Park, Doug Peebles '87 has a message for the 12 visiting Muhlenberg students: If you dislike your job, neither a fancy office nor a huge paycheck will make the struggle worthwhile.

“You’ve been happy in your life and you’ve been miserable. Which is better?” Peebles asks. “When you were happy, did you care if you had $100 in your pocket or $10? No.”

The message might seem out of place within the confines of AllianceBernstein (AB), an asset management company where the goal is to turn one amount of money into a larger amount of money. It might seem especially odd coming from one of the partners there who is also the chief investment officer of AB Fixed Income. But Peebles, a Muhlenberg College Trustee, stresses repeatedly that his long, successful career is a product of enjoying what he does.

“You have to like what you do so you’ll work hard enough to be better than average,” Peebles says. “Before you know it, you’re 52 years old and you’ve been at the same place for 30 years.”

AB was one of six organizations students had the opportunity to visit in New York City during the Career Center’s second annual Career Road Trip on September 26. Each organization had its own itinerary; at AB, the day’s agenda consisted of a lunch with Peebles and Ian de Ruiter '13 (a regional consultant at AB), a panel with three young alumni employees (Katie Seeman '15, Mike Rus '12 and Jason Mertz '15), a panel with three more senior employees and a Q&A with a member of the company’s human resources department.

Frank Caterina '20, a finance and accounting major, appreciated the opportunity to meet so many AB employees in person. “Events like this give you the opportunity to present yourself in a real-life setting,” he says. “Networking is crucial in creating relationships, and I believe that starting early creates a chance for continued opportunity to impress.”

De Ruiter’s story of his first years out of college demonstrates the value of the Muhlenberg network: He got his first job at R. Seelaus & Co., a firm in Summit, N.J., after he reached out to an alumnus who worked there, and he got a foot in the door at AB thanks to Peebles and Rus.

“Muhlenberg is a small College, so you might think the network is pretty small, but everyone in it loves talking to students,” de Ruiter says.

Peebles, who clearly loves talking to students himself, adds: “It’s really hard to run into somebody here or at Muhlenberg who is not a nice person. That is the special sauce of these places.”