Our alumni carry the foundation of their Friends School education with them throughout their lives. Not only did their time at Friends prepare them for college and their professions, but they think critically, make room for reflection, work collaboratively with their peers, and thrive having learned “freedom within structure.”
We recently sat down with Justin Sussman '99 to talk about his career and the impact of his experience at Friends. A member of the Friends School Athletic Hall of Fame for his performance on the lacrosse and soccer fields, Justin was recruited his senior year to play goalie at Bucknell University. There he was All-Patriot League Second Team 2001, Patriot League: Defensive Player of the Year, and All-Patriot League First Team 2002 & 2003. Before his career in finance, he played for the Baltimore Bayhawks MLL team. Justin is currently a Partner, Portfolio Manager, and Chief Operating Officer, at Proficio Capital Partners, LLC.
How he got here: A lot of hard work, but a lot of luck as well. I graduated from university in 2003 and eventually moved to New York City to work at an investment bank in 2004. In 2007, a former colleague of mine, who was running a trading desk in Boston, asked me if I would be interested in moving up there to work with him. This was a very tough decision for me as I had not spent much time in Boston and was not too familiar with the city itself. However, the opportunity was too good to pass up so I gladly accepted and moved there, along with my girlfriend Amy (who is now my wife!). Years later, the same colleague went on to start his own investment firm and I came along with him to be his partner and the rest has been history. So, I would say I put my time in to get where I am today, but I was very lucky to find the right mentor and partner with him. Finding the right mentor has been the most important part of my professional journey.
Current work: I am a partner, portfolio manager, and COO of an investment firm called Proficio Capital based in Boston. We manage several billion dollars in private and public assets across all asset classes. I am responsible for all trading and execution at Proficio and portfolio management of certain strategies.
Impact of his Friends education: Friends taught me to be confident enough to voice my thoughts or opinions in any environment. The core of investing is centered around being able to interpret how events and structural changes affect the economy and underlying market trends. Being able to voice and communicate your thoughts on how to invest along these themes is central to any investment firm. Friends encouraged open lines of communication with teachers and students alike to share ideas, thoughts, etc. (even controversial ones at that) in such a way that prepared me for the professional world where I am asked to do the same daily.
Notable Friends School experience: There were many in the classroom, but the experience that comes to the top of my mind came on the field when we won the M.I.A.A. Championship for lacrosse for the third time in a row on Homewood field at Johns Hopkins. That year’s team was amazing with many future college All-Americans and professional lacrosse players. Some of my fellow players that immediately come to mind are Jake Martin ’99, Kyle Harrison ’01, Benson Erwin ’01, and Todd Spear ’01. But many others on that team went on to highly accomplished careers. It was extremely fun to be a part of that team.
Memorable Friends teacher: Coaches Jon Garman ’75, current Upper School Interim Principal, and Richard Seiler ’68, Upper School History teacher (1988-2015) are the two that come to mind immediately. I had the opportunity to have them both as history teachers (my favorite subject) and also as lacrosse coaches during my time at Friends. They gave me confidence and helped me learn how to work in a team environment.