Monica Isaar, BS '96, MBA '03

Managing Director and Head of Asset Management and Foundations Group, JP Morgan

“Global resources delivered locally” is how New York native Monica Issar describes the educational experience that NYU Stern imparts to its students, and it is one of the principal reasons she selected the School for her undergraduate and MBA studies. Stern enabled Issar to acquire a global perspective through both her coursework and the diversity of the students surrounding her, a perspective that she brings to her position as Managing Director and head of the JP Morgan Asset Management and Foundations Group.

Although she was always passionate about business, Issar started out as an undergraduate at NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences because she believed a liberal arts education would give her the best foundation upon which to build her finance career. She transferred to Stern after just one economics class, reasoning that if she were enrolled at Stern, she would be learning from professors who were financial services practitioners as well as academics. Indeed, she affirms, that was the case. Her teachers’ willingness to share their stories of the real world – both successes and failures proved invaluable. Issar explains: “These firsthand examples have stayed with me throughout my career as reminders of resiliency. Even people at the top, CEOs, face uncertainty during strategy changes and mergers. But they survive and bounce back.”

A few years later, while working at JP Morgan, she returned to Stern for an MBA degree, which reinforced her global perspective. “My classmates were from all over the world, so I was learning about their lives and beliefs on a daily basis. My classes also reflected that global outlook: I remember learning about how US companies like Coca-Cola were creating strategies for growth in Asia, and teachings like that really tied everything together for me,” she recounts. At JP Morgan, Issar started her career in equities research, moved over to portfolio management, and then completed an associates’ training program in order to take a position in the firm’s Private Banking division. As an Investment Specialist, she advised public company CEOs and hedge fund managers on their personal financial affairs. She then founded another group that consults endowments and foundations that may not have a Chief Investment Officer on areas like strategic asset allocation and risk analysis. Now, as Managing Director and the head of the JP Morgan Asset Management and Foundations Group, she leads a team that provides customized advisory services and investment strategies to some of the largest charitable organizations in the world. She credits her education at Stern for her imparting an understanding of the level of trust necessary to excel in the money management industry and how to earn that trust.

Whether at the office or spending time biking with her two children, Issar keeps in mind a dictum from her grandfather: “Aim the highest; seek the highest.” She explains, “It means to always dream what’s possible. It’s something I did when I was a teenager and dreamed of going to a global, cosmopolitan university, and it led me to paths I couldn’t have dreamed of.”