The Biz by Bentley University

Thomas Gaffney fell in love with finance at Bentley. The idea of a career in health care, however, came from home.

Gaffney, a native of Suffield, Conn., spent a week at Bentley the summer prior to his senior hear of high school, as part of the university’s Wall Street 101 immersive finance program.

“I got to spend a whole week living the life of a Bentley student,” he says. “This really sold me on the school, as the campus was not only beautiful, but every single person I interacted with could not have been nicer or more welcoming to me.

“I spent five whole days in the Trading Room working with Bentley faculty members, and was blown away at their intelligence, as well as how interesting the subject matter was for me,” Gaffney continues. “I loved how the markets were constantly changing, as well as the competitive nature of the field. From here, I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in Finance, and Bentley seemed like the perfect place!”

After enrolling and learning about Bentley’s optional Liberal Studies Major (LSM), though, Gaffney found a way to connect his newfound passion for finance with a lifelong admiration for health care.

“I ended up choosing an LSM largely because of my dad,” he explains. “He has worked in the health-care industry for my entire life, and I looked up to him a ton growing up —and still do. I saw him start and successfully grow multiple health-care companies, and go on to become and executive in the industry. Besides wanting to be like him, I just feel that the space is very exciting, especially in the present with the central role technology is playing in creating new industry norms.”

Gaining a Broader Knowledge

The LSM is an optional second major, but it’s different than most secondary degrees because it doesn’t stand alone. And it’s not like a typical liberal arts major that drills deep into one particular field of study, like philosophy or history. Instead, the Bentley LSM is paired with a primary BS major, serving as an interdisciplinary partner that dramatically helps increase the value of a student’s education.

With an LSM, a student can study business while exploring important themes that cut across the wider scope of arts and sciences: ethics and social responsibility, global perspectives, media arts and society, and issues related to the environment.

“I loved, and still love, the idea of adding a liberal arts component to the business degree at Bentley,” says Gaffney. “Apart from the obvious perk of making yourself more marketable to employers, I just think it allows you to get as much possible out of the educational experience.

“With a business degree, you have the obvious ‘hard skills’ to be successful in any business field. With the arts and sciences integration, you gain a broader knowledge that allows you to interact with people on all levels of business, and all levels of life in general.”

Besides his work in the classroom, Gaffney kept busy during his time at Bentley, as most students do. He spent four years working for the Office of Undergraduate Admission, interviewing prospective Bentley students to assist with the application decision process. He also served as president of the Bentley Entrepreneurship Society, helping to promote a culture of entrepreneurship at Bentley through workshops, speaker events, and a semi-annual “Shark Tank” pitch competition.

“Despite popular belief, there are a large number of students at Bentley interested in something other than the traditional ‘corporate’ route,” says Gaffney. “They want to work at startups, innovate, and potentially even start their own businesses.”

Becoming Multidimensional

Like all LSM students, Gaffney finished his studies with a capstone project that demonstrates how his studies intersect.

“I investigated both private equity and venture capital investment in the health-care industry over the past five years,” he explains. “Using the top 10 deals in value from each year, from both VC and PE, I was able to draw conclusions about where these investors see the industry going in the future.”

It’s this kind of co-curricular thinking that makes the LSM such a valuable option for students at Bentley. But the LSM also gives Bentley graduates like Gaffney a depth of understanding and confidence that sets them apart.

“When you’re on an interview, or making a deal, you form an opinion of someone, and they form one of you, in the first five minutes of meeting — maybe sooner,” he says. “This judgement is made on a very topical level, so if you are skilled in the art of small talk then you already have a leg up on other business students who have not had the benefit of such integration. You are able to speak intelligibly about a wide range of things: You are multidimensional.”