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Raj Sharma’s Emerson Experience

Raj Sharma graduated Emerson in 1983 with a degree in mass communications and he recently agreed to participate in our “Emerson Experience” series.

Today, Raj is Managing Director of Investments and a private wealth advisor at Merrill Lynch. In March 2011, he was recognized by Barron's Magazine as Boston’s top financial advisor for the third consecutive year. Here’s what he has to say about his time at Emerson and beyond.

Raj Sharma

Raj is Managing Director of Investments and a private wealth advisor at Merrill Lynch.

Q. What are you currently working on?

I just finished an economic report for India Abroad. I write a monthly column on various financial topics. This one was about the outlook for 2011 and beyond. Things are really improving, although it may not seem that way. The economic fundamentals are starting to strengthen, and I think we’ll see a pretty good-sized recovery by mid-year.

Q. Could you describe an experience at Emerson that shifted the course of your career?

Actually, it was a series of experiences as I learned the art of writing and creating films or videos. It was in a sense learning the art of communication. Emerson trains you to have the ability to convey a message, to have an impact.

Q. Is there an example of how a classmate aided you with your career?

Colette Phillips (of Colette Phillips Communications) brought me back to Emerson and has been a friend and a booster for my career.

Q. Are you professionally connected to other Emersonians?

Yes, Richard Cresta (senior vice president at Fidelity Investments) got in touch with me because he noticed I was an Emerson alumnus, and we’ve become great friends.

Q. What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to Emerson students?

Be a continuous learning machine. The best thing you can do is add to your knowledge in several dimensions. Over time, your career can take many turns and you have to remember the constant is your understanding, your knowledge, your ability to tell a story.

It’s very important to invest in self-development. Knowledge is one thing you can continue to improve. If you are a filmmaker, maybe you should take a management course. If you are a writer, think of a way to broaden your knowledge base.

Also, focus on being flexible. What you do in your 20s is not the same as what you will do in your 30s. Without flexibility, you will find it difficult to navigate the job environment. Having an attitude of positive expectations is important. It’s not always easy to eke out a living. It’s a learned behavior that will help you navigate life’s ups and downs better.

Also, I would tell young people, go abroad and go global. The world will look different in 20 years, and if you’re able to understand different cultures it will make you more marketable, more competitive. There are jobs available if you’re willing to work in Asia for two years. If I were 22 or 24, that’s what I would do.

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