From Chemistry to Finance: J.P. Morgan’s Justin Nelson Redefines Career Boundaries

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Business

When you think of a chemistry major, you might not envision someone managing billions of dollars, but that’s precisely what you’ll get with Justin Nelson. The Tufts University graduate has a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and economics and an MBA from Columbia University. That might seem like an odd educational background for J.P. Morgan’s managing director and head of the asset management and financial principals coverage team. Still, Justin Nelson’s multidisciplinary journey equipped him with the knowledge to get results for his clients.

Nelson’s journey from studying chemistry to leading a team managing over $15 billion in assets is nothing short of inspiring. He shares the story of his unique career path, highlighting his educational background and professional achievements, to show a degree isn’t always the best indicator of financial prowess.

Justin Nelson’s Unusual Educational Background

Justin Nelson earned his undergraduate degree at Tufts University, where initially he set on a premed track. However, he realized that his true passion was for finance. “I was originally premed, I was a chemistry major. It took me a while to figure out that I don’t like blood and I didn’t want to do that, but I knew I liked finance,” he recalls. This pivot from hard science to economics gave Nelson a unique analytical perspective, which he later expanded on after earning an MBA.

This multidisciplinary background might sound unrelated to finance, but Justin Nelson credits his success to his wide-ranging education. This background enabled him to synthesize information from different areas, allowing him to offer well-rounded advice to clients from both finance and nonfinance backgrounds.

The Leap Into Finance

Although Tufts was not a traditional feeder school for major finance firms at the time, Justin Nelson was determined to break into the industry. With the help of friends already in finance, he navigated the process of securing internships and job opportunities. “I had a bunch of friends who were going into finance, and they helped me think through the process, like how to get a job, how to get an internship,” he says.

Eventually he landed an internship at J.P. Morgan — and he hasn’t left since. “I’ve been there for my whole career,” Nelson notes. His determination secured his place at one of the most prestigious financial institutions and also inspired him to help other Tufts students follow a similar path.

Building Bridges With Recruitment and Mentorship

Nelson’s commitment to his alma mater didn’t end with his graduation. Recognizing the need for more support and resources for Tufts students interested in finance, he actively pushed for change on campus. His efforts contributed to the creation of a finance minor, the establishment of finance clubs with direct recruiting opportunities, and the organization of the annual Finance Career Forum. “It’s amazing how much it changed over 25 years,” Justin Nelson says. Today, 50 to 100 Tufts graduates enter the finance industry each year, thanks in part to his support.

Navigating Success Across Disciplines

Today, Justin Nelson leads a team of 20 professionals and advises clients on all aspects of strategic wealth planning, from investment management to estate management and banking. While a degree in finance could have helped Nelson in his early career, he wouldn’t have it any other way. His multidisciplinary background shows that professionals with broad knowledge have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in their chosen fields, regardless of their degree.

 

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