Nothing Comes to People by Accident:
A conversation with Clinton Gartin '77
You've pledged a substantial gift to the University of Connecticut School of Business over the next five years. What do you hope this gift will accomplish?
From my perspective, the UConn School of Business has made great progress over the last decade. National prominence is within reach and I hope my support and the support of others will help the School of Business reach that goal. This all ties into the difficult economic times we're currently experiencing. This is a time for alumni to step up with the financial support that will allow the University to continue its mission.
This is not your first gift to the school – can you tell us a little about your philanthropy and what has prompted it?
I had a great experience at the school. I had excellent professors and the courses I took were well designed; but despite that experience I had lost touch with UConn until about 15 years ago when I ran into Tom Gutteridge (former Dean of the School of Business) and got to talking about the school. He persuaded me to join the school's board of advisors, and frankly, I became very enthused about what they were doing. It seemed like a good thing to give a little back to the school that had given me such a good grounding.
The other thing I'd say about general philanthropy is that I think education is the one great investment you can make as a donor that has a guaranteed return. You know that every dollar you invest helps the future. I think there's a very clear payback. When you educate people and prepare them to do things for the rest of their lives, you get paid back forever.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your encounter with Dean Gutteridge?
Sure. I ran into him at a homecoming weekend celebration. My wife, who was a cheerleader at UConn, was marching in the parade and it was raining. I ducked into the School of Business to stay dry and there he was. So we got to talking.
Your wife also attended UConn?
Yes, I met my wife the second weekend of our freshman year.
The university has just initiated a major Capitol Campaign. What can you share with other School of Business alumni to prompt their participation in giving back to their alma mater?
I guess I'd say that for anyone who went to the UConn School of Business, at least some portion of their success can be attributed to the education they received there. We all had the good fortune of graduating during good economic times, which enabled us to leave school and embark on successful careers. Giving back to the school would enable others to enjoy the same benefits we have enjoyed, especially during these trying economic times.
You mentioned the poor economy. What is your perspective on the current financial crisis?
I think it's fair to say we've been through one of the most difficult economic times in any of our memories, and we've taken a number of steps that have been very positive to reverse that. I think we're in the beginning of a recovery, but I don't think anyone should underestimate the amount of work that we have left to do. It's going to take an attitude toward financial risk that is much more conservative than we've had for the last decade.
How did the education you received at the School of Business prepare you for your success in business?
I think the most important thing is that it created a very solid base level of business knowledge. All of the key tools in finance and accounting were extremely well taught at UConn. I walked out of UConn well prepared for a career in business.
Did you know your own career path from a young age?
I knew I wanted to be in business and I had a notion I might major in accounting. When I got to UConn and took my first accounting class, I liked it a lot and I decided that Accounting would be a great major. Interestingly, I'm one of the few people who turned down Duke to go to UConn — and I did that because if you go to Duke, you can't take the CPA exam. They don't have a very good basketball team either.
Are you a Connecticut native?
No, my father worked for GE so I grew up around the country. I lived my senior year of high school in Fairfield, Connecticut, so I decided to stay in-state for college.
Do you have any special memories of the school that you'd like to share?
Yes, there was one professor, a gentleman by the name of Dick Kochanek (currently Emeritus Professor of Accounting) who was my intermediate accounting professor. He was an exceptional educator and individual and he created a level of enthusiasm around a subject that does not always generate a great deal of enthusiasm. I came away from his classes excited about the field of business.
One of the things that was distinctive about him is he knew every student by name and called on them by name. The other thing that was distinctive about him was how excited he was about what he was teaching. He was interesting; he was funny; and he really captured your attention. He is still one of the most popular professors on campus.
Tell us what you did after college. How did you embark on the career you have now?
After I graduated in 1977 I went to work for one of the Big Eight accounting firms, Arthur Young & Company in Hartford. I left there in 1979 to go to Harvard Business School, where I graduated in 1981 and joined Morgan Stanley later that year. I started at Morgan Stanley as an associate in corporate finance. Over the years, I have done a variety of things, but I now principally do mergers and acquisitions and capital raising. Last year, my colleagues and I represented Wyeth in its sale to Pfizer, for $68 billion dollars, the largest deal in the world last year. I also worked on the sale of Schering-Plough to Merck, which was $46 billion. Working at Morgan Stanley has been exciting and fun. I still enjoy it after all of these years.
What advice can you give to upcoming graduates?
I think the most important thing is to do something that you really enjoy because you'll do the very best at those things you are most enthusiastic about. If work can be fun, you'll do well. If you wake up every morning saying, "I get to go to work" instead of, "I have to go to work," you'll be successful.
The only thing I might add is that nothing comes to people by accident. Success comes to people who work hard and who are focused and determined. Those who are self-reliant and have a goal can achieve a lot. I think that getting an education at a school like UConn is a great base from which to achieve those types of goals. Students also need to understand that academic performance really matters. No one wants to hire someone who is average because they don't think their business is average. They want to hire someone who is exceptional. College should be a wonderful time; it certainly was for me. But it needs to also be a time when you have objectives and goals. I've always told my kids that the eight most important years of your life are high school and college because they set the stage for everything that you accomplish thereafter.
Clinton G. Gartin is Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley's Investment Banking Division and oversees the firm's health care franchise. He graduated from UConn in 1977 with a BS in accounting and later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He joined Morgan Stanley in 1981 and has held a variety of positions with the firm since that time, including co-head of Global Industries, Head of Health Care and Chief Administrative Officer of the investment banking division. Mr. Gartin has extensive experience in both mergers and acquisitions and capital raising. He has served as advisor to over $500 billion of M&A transactions. He lives with his wife and four children in Darien, Connecticut.