The average person spends about one-third of their lifetime at work. Given that equals about 90,000 hours, what one does for a living plays a pretty big role in their quality of life. That’s why it’s comforting to know that Broncos like Garrett Evans (B.B.A.′17, Finance) have a passion for making careers count.
Today, Garrett is the co-founder and CFO/COO of The 2.0 Collective, a career advancement homebase for everyday professionals. The 2.0 Collective empowers ambitious humans by giving them the tools and support needed to make the most out of their careers.
But before he landed his dream job, Garrett was an enthusiastic and determined student at Western Michigan University.
“I pursued three degrees, economics, mathematics and finance,” he said. “I fell just short on two but closed my favorite one: finance. I chose this one early on because finance is everywhere, from business to personal to the macro levels that change the world, and I wanted to see success on those three levels.”
Deciding to come to WMU made sense to him, because of the college’s proximity to home, size and affordability. Garrett paid for his college education himself. “WMU struck me, and still strikes me, as an amazing value for all of its offerings,” he said. “Future career prospects initially seemed and ultimately proved to be abundant, too.”
While Garrett said it was hard to pinpoint a single influential moment during his time here, he credits his professors for inspiring his growth. “If I had to point to one theme, it would be the validation and support given by professors and other leaders at WMU,” he said. “I wouldn’t understand a topic, ask what I thought to be way too many questions and reluctantly give presentations, but all of this was met with an unwavering level of support and guidance. This was a formative experience that led to who I am as a person, professional and leader today.”
One professor stood out in particular: Dr. Onur Arugaslan, director of the personal financial planning program and co-director of the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness at WMU. “One great thing about Professor Arugaslan was his ability to mold teaching styles to what works for the student. If I didn't understand a topic, he would switch up his style until it stuck with me, rather than repeat,” Garrett said. “He’s also a professor that goes above and beyond to help students succeed outside of the class, plugging networking events, job opportunities and career paths.”
Garrett graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance with minors in economics and mathematics in 2017. Following graduation, he moved to North Carolina and landed an entry level equity and derivatives trading role in Charlotte. After passing his Series 7 and 63 exams, he was put on the trading floor. “I spent about six months trading before I was burned out and overworked,” he said.
Pivoting to technology consulting, Garrett expanded his skillset and began to envision what his ideal work environment would look and feel like. He spent the next two years moving up the ladder in client consulting at DealCloud, an Intapp Company, eventually becoming head of implementations for West/APAC. DealCloud is the leading finance CRM, deal sourcing and fund management platform.
“Just three years into my career I was given the opportunity to lead, which was rare,” Garrett said. “This was the first time I faced true imposter syndrome, but I worked to overcome and find my leadership style: servant leadership.”
“We did great things, grew the team and the business, and kept everyone together through COVID, amidst a ton of turnover in the market,” he continued. “I began to test different strategies to optimize what leadership tactics worked best for me and for scaling a team, examining what drives fulfillment, excitement and long-term career advancement for people.”
Garrett’s search for meaningful work eventually led him to Lynn Luong, co-founder of The 2.0 Collective. He met Lynn at a conference in Tennessee and they talked for hours about their careers and problems with the current career landscape.
“She told me what she was building to forge a better way for the world,” he said. “This pulled on my heart strings and so I came on board to help.”
Switching from his high-paying corporate leadership position to co-founding The 2.0 Collective is a decision this alumnus considers his proudest professional accomplishment to date. As of October 2023, the company has launched in two markets and is up to a team of 20.
“Right now, we have 1,000+ on our waitlist,” he said. “Our goal is to help early and mid-career professionals crush roadblocks and conquer opportunities, offering a career speed dial (a future you) and technology to help take friction out of the journey.”
Speaking of career advice, he encourages Broncos to learn what they both like and don’t like about their first job.
“Through this first job experience and thereafter, take inventory of your wins and your losses, and what's important to you,” he added. “Learn from experience in your journey, be proactive, take action and your dream lifestyle will fall in line.”
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