Colin Powell School
“There is no limit to what you can achieve in your career and in life” — the Importance of Education to Rudy Rianom
Rudy Rianom originally came to NYC from Indonesia with his family, as his father had been assigned to the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations. Rianom’s father always emphasized the importance of working hard to earn a degree, so Rianom decided to come to CCNY for its robust and rigorous Economics program. While at CCNY, Rianom took courses in Economics and Finance, but he especially remembers a course on Entrepreneurial Economics. “Students created a business idea and wrote a business plan which outlines the steps from product inception to execution,” Rianom said. This course came in handy later when Rianom went on to open restaurants and pursue other ventures parallel to his career in global finance.
Please tell us about your early life. Where are you from?
I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I am the oldest of three children. My family and I moved from Jakarta to New York City at the beginning of my senior year in high school. My father was a diplomat assigned to the Permanent Mission of Indonesia at the United Nations. After four years, my father returned to Indonesia and my younger brother and I stayed in New York to complete our college degrees. My father was later selected to represent Indonesia as their Ambassador to countries such as Austria, Venezuela and Turkey.
Since we were young, my father always taught us the importance and value of a college education and obtaining a degree. He often told us stories of himself growing up in poverty and only through perseverance, determination, and hard work was he able to complete his college degree, which changed the course of his life.
My father always reminded his children that a college degree will open windows of opportunity and he truly believes that there is no limit to what you can achieve in your career and in life. Those words continue to resonate in my head today and I embed the same principles in my own children. I would not have been successful in my career had I not applied these principles.
What led you to study Economics at City College?
I was very interested in business, the connectivity of the global economies and the world’s financial markets. And I wanted to graduate without incurring any debt. I chose City College instead of a private college because it was a reputable institution that offered a challenging academic program and an affordable tuition. Additionally, a few of my close friends went to City College.
How was your time as a student in the Economics program?
I started my own company when I was in the undergraduate program at City College. Operating a company gave me a new perspective and outlook. Meanwhile, I took economics and finance classes. The economics program was robust and rigorous, and there were a number of excellent professors who taught concurrently at Columbia University, University Of Pennsylvania, London School of Economics, and Yale. After completing my BA, I enrolled in the MA program at City College. The department has since expanded its program to include Business Administration and Management, Finance and Economics which is exciting. There is also a BA/MA program which did not exist when I attended City College. I’m proud to see such advancement in the school’s program and the variety of courses currently being offered to students.
How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path?
City College provided me with the fundamental skills to think strategically, analytically and creatively. As an example, some of the economics and finance courses I took during graduate and undergraduate studies provided me with the fundamentals of how the economy and financial markets operate. Some of the courses delved into the characteristics and analytics of specific financial products such as equities, fixed income, financial derivatives and foreign exchange/currency markets.
I began focusing on building my career path when I was still a student. In my final semester at CCNY, I attended a career fair, submitted my resume, and networked with several financial companies. Shortly after graduation, while traveling overseas to visit my family, I received a call to interview for a position at a top-tier financial institution. I had to cut my vacation short in order to attend the interview. After multiple rigorous interviews, I was eventually offered a position at the company. From there, I continued to advance by setting up short term goals and targets of where I wanted to be from a title and salary perspective. At every firm that I was hired at, I always gave them 110% effort and learned as much as I could from the experience. Before I even realized it, my career progressed from an analyst level position to holding senior level positions at various firms.
Please share a significant memory and an accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
I have many fond memories of my time at City College. I remember eating lunch with friends in the NAC cafeteria, spending late nights in the NAC library studying for final exams, and meeting many wonderful professors.
One of the best courses I took was Entrepreneurial Economics, where students created a business plan from product inception to execution. I hope that this class is still offered today. It provided me with the fundamentals of starting my own company, and since graduation, I’ve successfully established several partnerships, ventures and a restaurant outside of my career.
I was able to pay for the majority of my master’s program by taking advantage of available resources such as the work/study programs, which allow graduate students the opportunity to work part-time and receive a stipend for tuition. I also became a graduate assistant. I was placed at York College as a database analyst, and it was a wonderful experience.
How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved?
I have kept in touch with City College through the Alumni Association. Also, I recently reconnected with my former professor, Kevin Foster, through Linkedin. Professor Foster invited me to speak to his class about my career journey since graduating. I also invited one of my colleagues from another division to provide an overview of how foreign exchange and currency markets operate. The students were very receptive. We gave a brief overview of global markets and talked about the various divisions of investment banking, how to apply to internships, and how some of the topics they were learning in class actually apply in real life and play a significant role in the investor’s or firm’s decision-making process. I was very happy when the students stayed after class to ask very good questions. I’m really glad that the students felt the presentation was helpful in navigating their own career paths.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
My advice to students is to stay positive, focus on completing their undergraduate degree. Make the effort to apply to an internship program for the summer of their Junior and Senior year to gain valuable work experience. Utilize the various resources available at the college such as the career services department and fellowship programs. Apply for an internship through social media platforms such as Linkedin.
Many financial and consulting companies currently offer internship programs that are available to rising juniors and seniors and will typically recruit those who have completed these programs. While the competition is tough for some of these programs, don’t give up! Keep trying. Network with alumni of the school, attend resume writing workshops, and brush up on your interview skills. Some of these resources may already be available through the career services area of the college.