High-Tech Learning Centers Prepare You for ‘Real Life’

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By Kristen Walsh

When Brandon Samba ˊ20 gives prospective students a tour of the Bentley campus, he often asks: “Have you ever sat in class wondering when you will use the material in real life?” It’s something that Samba didn’t want to be asking in college. And at Bentley, he doesn’t – thanks to experiences in high-tech learning centers like the Trading Room, where he works with the same technology used by top financial companies.

“I chose a school where I would be afforded opportunities to study what I was passionate about as soon as I entered campus,” the Finance major recalls, adding that the Hughey Center for Financial Services (where the Trading Room is located) was “an extreme selling point” for him.

His goal of using technology from the get-go happened during an introductory accounting and finance course. “We analyzed Coca-Cola and made a buy, sell or hold recommendation on the stock. During this experience a Trading Room analyst did a presentation to our class about the technology in the Trading Room and how to utilize it.”

Ever since, Samba says he has used the Trading Room resources — financial software such as Bloomberg, FactSet and Capital IQ — for a multitude of course projects. But he also uses the programs for work that is not assigned by his professors. As portfolio manager and vice president of the student-run Bentley Investment Group (BIG), for example, Samba leverages the technology to facilitate equity research.  

“The software we use most is the Bloomberg terminals to manage $1 million of Bentley’s endowment,” Samba says of BIG members who are responsible for managing a portion of the fund. “We also use FactSet primarily for portfolio management and monitoring. It has helped me understand concepts such as attribution and how performance is benchmarked.”

Samba used Bloomberg “just about every single day” during an internship at Loomis, Sayles & Company for research purposes and news updates. He says his familiarity with the software and his financial literacy made him more comfortable on the job; and he wants to share that with others.

As part of the Bentley Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center, Samba volunteers for America Clicks! to tutor third-grade students in technology and software skills that he learned during an introductory information technology course and in classes that use Microsoft Office Suite. He also uses technology from the Trading Room to teach financial literacy and money management skills to kids in underserved communities through Captains of Capital, an organization that Samba founded in 2015 and staffs with Bentley student volunteers.

Samba came to the U.S. at an early age, immigrating from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Growing up Samba had an entrepreneurial mindset and started his first business in middle school. Samba says, “In middle school, I started a dog-walking company called Perfect Paws to pay for youth football fees and equipment. In high school, I realized I had a passion for business, especially finance, and stopped playing sports.”

During his junior year of high school, Samba started an investment club at his high school in San Diego, California. He adds that greater access to technology has furthered his ability to gain insight on investments, and accomplish tasks outside of finance.

“At Bentley, I always feel like I have the resources to accomplish any task or project. For instance, during my first year I utilized computer programs in the Center for Marketing Technology and Media and Culture Labs and Studio to do video editing for a spring project (Bentley University Fashion Show).”

No matter the industry, Samba feels prepared and ahead of the curve because of that access to technology. “As the world becomes more technologically advanced, my Bentley education has provided me with the skills to adapt to changes and capitalize off innovation. A common saying I hear at Bentley is, ‘If they use it out there, you will find it here.’ And that’s true. The technology experience on campus gives students a career advantage in the real world.”

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