Thomas Koveleskie, MBA ’07 (E), financial advisor and certified financial planner at UBS
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce New York founder seeks to advance LGBT business people
Regardless of their current financial situation, Koveleskie sees his clients as economies unto themselves, with unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. “I'm very selective about the client work I take on,” he says. “It's not just about the money; a client's goals and dreams are hugely important to me.”
Koveleskie also plays an active role in helping the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in New York advance in business. A resident of New York City since the early 1990s, Koveleskie says he has witnessed a profound evolution in the LGBT community while he has evolved personally as a gay man. “One of the greatest strengths I have noted in my community is its ability to catalyze innovative ideas and trends in business,” he says.
As a student, Koveleskie represented Johnson at a “Reaching Out” MBA conference for gay and lesbian students and alumni from the world’s leading business schools. At this event, Koveleskie saw what he calls the “sparks of greatness” among the hundreds of people convened to share thought capital and network. “It occurred to me as I looked upon a sea of polished men and women in well-tailored suits and dresses: ‘What if we took all the energy in this room of globally-trained thought capitalists, and the creativity generally associated with the LGBT community, and directed it toward greatness in society and business?’” he recalls.
To realize that vision, Koveleskie founded the New York Chapter of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCCNY) to provide ongoing development programs and a self-sustaining network of LGBT and allied professionals. “Whether our members are independent professionals, small business owners, or multinational corporate partners seeking to develop their leaders within a larger organization, it's important that we connect as a community in a way that elevates us,” he says.
Since 2008, the New York NGLCC has grown from a handful of members to nearly 250, including 16 multinational corporations and scores of small businesses. “We're still growing exponentially and are constantly raising the bar,” Koveleskie says.
Koveleskie describes his role at NGLCCNY as part cheerleader, part evangelist, speaking members’ praises and inspiring new members to join and take part the effort to advance LGBT business people. Key strategies include helping businesses show that they value diversity by becoming members, and helping them become great workplaces for LGBT employees. The organization also helps qualified member businesses gain certification as minority-owned suppliers, which helps expose them to corporate and government purchasing departments and, in turn, to major procurement opportunities. NGLCCNY continues to expand and form industry-specific councils to help professionals connect more effectively.
Koveleskie believes that the future of NGLCC is bright. “We're often at the vanguard of fresh ideas, innovation, and the leading edge in business,” he says. “Because of our early experiences coming out and formulating our identity in a heteronormative world, I believe we're more adept at change, developing new ideas, and expressing them articulately.”
When he’s not busy with work at UBS and NGLCCNY, Koveleskie enjoys spending his free time indulging in his passion for languages. He already speaks and writes in French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, and is currently studying Catalan. He also enjoys reading the financial news and the research reports produced by UBS. “I'm very focused on living a holistic life,” he says, “so it's tough to separate between hobbies and work; it's all one and the same for me.”
Maria Minsker ’13 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.