Seeking a Competitive Edge

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.

Seeking a Competitive Edge

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.
Alice Vilma, a Morgan Stanley executive, advises new alums to grow networks, use available resources, and “push the bar higher.”

Alice Vilma, B.B.A. ’99, sister of former Hurricanes linebacker and three-time NFL Pro Bowler Jonathan Vilma, B.B.A. ’04, can still recall the experience as if it were yesterday.

Representatives from Morgan Stanley were coming to the University of Miami campus to meet with students about summer internship opportunities. As a freshman finance major, she knew attending the session could help boost her career.

On the day of the meeting, though, Vilma arrived 45 minutes late, wearing jeans and a T-shirt. When she saw that other students were dressed to the nines, she decided to leave, only to have her hasty exit prevented by a Morgan Stanley analyst who convinced her to stay.

That turned out to be a “a life-changing moment,” she said during her 2015 keynote address at the UM Black Alumni Society and Woodson Williams Marshall Association Scholarship Reception, where 18 students received a total of $64,500 in scholarships for academic excellence.

“I realized I had a little bit more to learn about the real world,” Vilma said.

Obviously a quick study, she earned her degree in finance from UM and eventually an M.B.A. from Harvard. Today, Vilma is executive director in Morgan Stanley’s Global Capital Markets Division, working with companies in the power and utilities and master limited partnership sectors.

Though she attended UM on a Ronald A. Hammond Golden Drum Scholarship, Vilma told students she never envisioned she would achieve such success when she was “sitting where you are today.”

But that doesn’t mean she’s stopped setting new goals. She advised students to grow their networks, use all the resources available to them, and “run with a faster group,” the latter advice a pun on the fact that she has been training regularly with elite marathoners to improve her own running times.

“Continue to push the bar higher,” she urged. “Your time at UM will put you in a prime position to succeed.”