Tuck took a chance on me and brought me into an environment where I could grow and be challenged. I want to repay that tenfold, twentyfold, and so that is what I’ll continue doing.
By Adam Sylvain
Jose Minaya T’00 became CEO of Nuveen, the investment manager of TIAA, in January 2020, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began its spread. Rather than lament a case of unfortunate timing, Minaya embraced the moment as an opportunity to prove his leadership.
“When people see you under fire and how you respond to a difficult situation, that’s how you build confidence and earn their trust,” says Minaya, now in his 17th year at TIAA. “Whenever we came out of this pandemic, I knew I would be judged by my employees, customers, and stakeholders.”
As manager of a company with roughly 3,000 employees and nearly $1.2 trillion in assets, the stakes were high for Minaya and his leadership team to make the right decisions. They committed early on to transitioning their global workforce to a fully remote environment and became one of the first major investment firms to report on the projected impact of the pandemic on client portfolios.
Minaya also led efforts to rethink how Nuveen communicates with both their employees and clients. When the pandemic began, this included almost daily Zoom calls with employees, often in the early morning and throughout the day as he connected with teams in different time zones. By ramping up their digital capabilities, Nuveen witnessed the highest client engagement scores in the company’s history in 2020. Investment performance and the influx of new clients also exceeded benchmarks.
“We were able to turn challenges into opportunities for broader and richer engagement with our clients and our people,” shares Minaya. “Watching my team and employees rise to meet these challenges and grow together has easily been one of the proudest moments of my career.”
In addition to his role as CEO of Nuveen, Minaya serves as executive sponsor for the Inclusion and Diversity Initiative at TIAA and is a board member of the Robert Toigo Foundation, an organization that fosters the career advancement and leadership of underrepresented talent.
A commitment to building diverse, inclusive, and equitable structures across organizations is personal for Minaya, a first-generation college student who attended Tuck as a Robert Toigo Fellow. He says it is not enough to claim diversity and inclusion as a core value. There needs to be action and follow through.
“I have not found a lack of will or desire to improve, but there is often a lack of understanding of how to improve diversity and inclusion,” explains Minaya. “It’s about accountability and backing that desire with the right resources.”
At TIAA, actionable steps include launching a D&I Council and diversifying their employee pipeline through an expanded internship program. They have also worked to combat biases and improve diversity across all phases of the hiring process.
“We found that we did a great job attracting a diverse candidate pool,” says Minaya. “But when you looked at who were the people in the room interviewing these candidates, there was a lack of diversity that we also needed to improve.”
Reflecting on his own career path, Minaya says his Dominican-born parents instilled the importance of education at an early age, but the particulars of applying to schools and planning a professional future were mostly unknown.
“I was not well-oriented. I didn’t really know what the SAT was,” recalls Minaya. “I remember eventually buying an SAT book from a Hallmark store and splitting the cost with one of my friends.”
Becoming a doctor or engineer always seemed like the most practical career paths, but after realizing he despised both engineering and the lab, Minaya’s interest shifted to finance.
After graduating from Manhattan College, he joined J.P. Morgan as an associate, providing merger and acquisition advisory services to clients in consumer products, health care, retail, and energy. It was a vice president at J.P. Morgan who introduced Minaya to the Robert Toigo Foundation, an experience that Minaya says left a lasting impression.
“This was the first person I ever worked for who looked like me and had a similar background,” says Minaya. “It was an eye-opening experience to receive guidance from someone who had taken a similar path.”
It was after four years at J.P. Morgan that Minaya began applying to MBA programs.
At first, Tuck was not one of the schools at the top of his list. Having spent his entire life in the city, Minaya gravitated toward schools located near metropolitan cities like Wharton, Booth, and Harvard Business School. He took a visit to Hanover at the urging of another supervisor at the time, Mark Davis D’81, T’84.
Accompanying Minaya on the trip was his then-girlfriend and now wife, Romy Minaya T’00, who was also working on Wall Street and applying to many of the same business schools.
“By the time we drove back to New York, I said to her, ‘I need to go here,’” recalls Minaya. “For me it was perfect. As a city kid, it opened my eyes to the outdoors and felt like a true college experience that in some ways I never had. Tuck represented this playground of all these different things I could try and experience.”
They both chose to enroll at Tuck and when they eventually married their wedding party included several Tuck classmates. In addition to nurturing some of the most important relationships in his life, Minaya’s Tuck experience gave him renewed confidence as he continued in his career.
“When I first arrived at Tuck and was surrounded by all these classmates who had graduated from top undergraduate programs, I had to fight this initial feeling of ‘Can I cut it here?’” says Minaya. “What I found out was, ‘Yes, absolutely.’”
After earning his MBA, Minaya admits he initially took a more traditional path. He arrived at Tuck from J.P. Morgan and took another job in investment banking when he left. But within a few years, he transitioned to the “buy-side” as a portfolio manager at TIAA where he grew to manage a team responsible for investing globally in real assets, including agriculture, energy, and infrastructure.
Today, Minaya enjoys being on the people side of the business, where he can stretch some of the soft skills he learned at Tuck. To give back to the institution that transformed his life, Minaya serves as a member of Tuck’s MBA Council, a commitment he takes to heart.
“Tuck took a chance on me and brought me into an environment where I could grow and be challenged,” he says. “I want to repay that tenfold, twentyfold, and so that is what I’ll continue doing.”
A Winning Story: Meet Crunchyroll CFO Travis Page T’10
As the CFO of Crunchyroll, a specialty streaming service that boasts 120 million users, Travis Page T’10 is leveraging his varied experience in the media and entertainment space to bring the Japanese art form to a wider audience.Read More
Closing the Financing Gap for Local Businesses: Meet Honeycomb Cofounder George Cook T’17
Honeycomb Credit works specifically with small businesses and allows consumers, nonprofits, and other organizations to loan small amounts of cash to a particular venture.Read More
At BCG, A Small-Team Approach: Meet Cristina Henrik T’08
A conversation with Cristina Henrik T’08, managing director and partner at the Boston Consulting Group, on how private equity has evolved and what has stuck with her since her Tuck days.Read More
Tuck Relationships Run Deep at .406 Ventures
Classmates and spouses So-June Min T’95 and Liam Donohue T’95 reflect on their winding path as co-founders of the Boston-based venture capital firm .406 Ventures.Read More
Leading with Purpose: Bank of America CFO Alastair Borthwick T’93
Alastair Borthwick T’93, CFO at Bank of America, reflects on his Tuck experience and the people-first approach that drives his success as a financial leader.Read More
Why We Need More Women Entrepreneurs—And Investors
A conversation with venture capitalist Elizabeth Davis T’20, an investor with the Anthemis Group’s Female Innovators Lab.Read More
Meet Tuck Alumnus Richard Noyes of Bartlett Associates
Meet Tuck Alumnus Richard Noyes of Bartlett AssociatesRead More
Noreen Doyle T’74, chair of the Newmont Mining Corporation, was the first woman to chair the British Banker’s Association in its 96-year history.Read More
Preserving Culture Through Banking: Meet Dawson Her Many Horses T’10
Dawson Her Many Horses T’10, SVP & Native American business leader at Wells Fargo, helps Native American tribes protect their way of life.Read More
Tuck Alumnus Named Head of Goldman Sachs’ Global Securities
At Goldman Sachs’ Global Securities Division, Tuck Alumnus Jim Esposito orchestrates a global operation managing risk for asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, corporations, and governments.Read More
Bringing Order to the Chaos
Solving complex problems is what's kept Diego Ferro T'93 in finance for 25 years. Here's what he's learned.Read More
T’98 Rick Cardenas’ first job was bussing tables at a Red Lobster. Fast forward 30 years and he’s now CEO of Darden Restaurants which, until 2014, owned Red Lobster.Read More
Fun Finance: Lindsey Drake T’11 talks about her role as a senior finance manager at Amazon Books.Read More
James “Jim” Lindstrom
Jim Lindstrom T’01 has a career of both investment and senior operational roles—a unique perspective to lead a multinational corporation in today’s dynamic environment.Read More
As managing director of the Boston Forum of Golden Seeds, a national network of angel investors funding early-stage companies led by women, Deb Kemper T'95 lives by the motto: be the change you want to see in the world.Read More
Kathryn Baker T'93 is a true expert on boards of directors. She has served on more than 20 of them over the last 16 years, ranging from oil and gas companies to Norway’s Central Bank to Tuck’s own European Advisory Board.Read More
The Chinese economy has grown tremendously since 1989, and so have the opportunities for enterprising Tuck graduates, like Jie Lian T'01.Read More
Not many people in ball bearing sales finish their careers in venture capital. For Mike Carusi T’93, now one of the most successful health care investors in Silicon Valley, that unlikely journey started with two eye-opening years at Tuck.Read More
Williams College chief investment officer Collette Chilton T’86 is helping deliver big returns for the Little Ivy.Read More
Investor. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Roger McNamee T’82 is all of these and more in a career that has taken him to the top of the tech world.Read More
Alain Karaoglan T’87 never could have predicted he would one day be chief operating officer of Voya Financial, a top-tier retirement plan provider with more than $500 billion in assets under management and administration.Read More
Navigating the present while honoring the past is a challenge for many Native people. Debbie Atuk T’04 has found a way to do both.Read More
After working in security sales for Goldman Sachs, Christopher Fox T'81 was drawn back to the public sector because he wanted to serve his community and for the intellectual challenge.Read More
At Tuck, Vicki Craver T'97 discovered a latent interest in financial strategy. Now, after a successful career at Goldman Sachs and raising a family, she applies her financial accumen to vetting nonprofit projects.Read More
Following five years in the mergers and acquisitions industry, Scott Frantz T'86 joined a few close friends in putting together a private equity and venture capital business.Read More
Sword, Rowe & Company CEO Daniel Rowe T’09 is blending his love of music into a successful career with the boutique merchant bank.Read More
In much of the Middle East and North Africa, cash is still king. PayPal’s Francis Barel T’05 wants to change that, and open people’s lives to the world along the way.Read More
One of Blair LaCorte T’90’s great skills as a leader is not only to guide a company from infancy to success, but to know when to set it—and himself—free.Read More
Christopher Williams T'84 harnessed his architectural and business skills to grow the Williams Capital Group into one of the most successful mid-sized investment banks in the world.Read More