I grew up in Jersey City, N.J. As the fifth of six children, I learned how to be a good arguer. So good, in fact, I thought I might become a lawyer. I received a B.A. in political science from Saint Peters College in 1990. But living in the shadow of New York, I was drawn to financial services instead.

While in college, I worked part time at Paine Webber. When I graduated the company offered me a back-office job in the insurance group. But, I wasn't very good at it, and I later moved into the marketing department. That first job taught me that if you don't know why you are doing something-ask.

I later received an M.B.A. in finance from New York University. Then, in 2001, I took a position at Nuveen Investments as the managing director of international product management and alternative investments. This was during the early part of an impressive growth stage for the company. Management knew that in order to take advantage of their potential, they had to diversify across multiple products. They subsequently acquired Symphony Asset Management-a hedge fund group-and they needed someone who understood the appeal for investors and how the asset class was structured. I was appointed to that role.

In 2004, I was hired as head of product development at Morgan Stanley because of my solid understanding of product offerings. Throughout my entire career I've taken advantage of the knowledge I've gained in various positions at the individual product level-from insurance, to mutual funds, to hedge funds-and I can offer that knowledge to advisors.

During the market dislocation of 2008, I was COO of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. It was a challenging time and I really learned the importance of surrounding yourself with a strong team. Crisis helps you distinguish the good workers from the great ones.

In 2009, I became head of Alternative Investments for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Its joint venture with Smith Barney that same year gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons. We inherited a tremendous amount of talent. Meshing the Smith Barney alternative investment group with the existing Morgan Stanley group has positioned us as a premier player in our space. In a difficult period, we were able to build a new, single-manager hedge fund platform: Hedge Premier.

On weekends, my wife and I shuttle our kids to their birthday parties and games and I try to find time to work on my old GTO convertible and play golf.