Sharing Life-Shaping Experiences

Cristo Rey Shines a Spotlight on Victoria Rios, Baird Advisors Intern

Victoria Rios was just 14 years old and a first-generation immigrant to the United States when she came to Baird as an intern from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee. “I was very shy at first,” she recalls. “But I’ve learned so much working at Baird and, honestly, it’s really been one of the greatest blessings of my life.”

Victoria shared her journey and discussed the value of her more than five years at Baird in an interview during Cristo Rey’s Trailblazer – A Night of Impact virtual fundraising event in November. As a 2019 graduate of the school’s inaugural class, her experience with Baird is viewed as one of the great success stories of the school’s innovative work-study program.

"They are getting an incredible experience in a business and professional environment," says Mary Ellen Stanek, President of Baird Funds and Chief Investment Officer for Baird Advisors. “They are gaining coaches and mentors and professional experiences way beyond their years.”

A Win-Win Proposition

All Cristo Rey students work five full days per month at companies across the greater Milwaukee area, where they gain confidence, connect the relevance of their academic coursework to future employment, acquire skills that will benefit their career, and receive unprecedented access to the professional world. And the program benefits the companies that participate as well.

“You’re really growing the next generation of workers,” says Mary Hoppa, Managing Director for Baird Advisors. "We talk so much about recruiting here and wanting to get great candidates in the door; I think the best way to do that is by starting early."

Baird Advisors has been very intentional about building generational diversity into their team, knowing that fresh eyes can bring diverse and valuable perspective. This philosophy, coupled with leadership’s commitment to mentoring and developing next gen talent, is designed to ensure continuity and consistency for clients.

Now a Sophomore at Marquette University, Victoria still works with Baird Advisors while studying corporate communications – one of many passions and aptitudes she has discovered in her time at Baird.

“I feel like absolutely everyone I’ve talked to in the office has been some sort of mentor for me,” Victoria says. “It just feels really wonderful to be a part of a team that really cares about me as a person, as a student and as a worker.”

A Long-Term Investment

Baird’s relationship with Cristo Rey goes back to the firm’s past Chairman, Paul Purcell, whose passion for supporting education – particularly for students with limited financial means – was well known both in Milwaukee and his native Chicago, where his relationship with Cristo Rey began. Paul was also a big believer in the benefits of establishing strong relationships with next generation talent and recognized that inclusion and diversity is essential to Baird’s long-term success.

“At Baird we know that when people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives work together toward common goals, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish,” says Mary Ellen, who also co-chairs Baird’s inclusion and diversity task force. “Remarkable people like Victoria are and will continue to be essential to the sustainability of the great outcomes we strive to create for our clients, for each other and in our communities every day.”