Meet 2006 psychology alumna Dipali Patel. She’s a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors. With money being one of the biggest worries for people, Patel views finance advisors as a type of counseling that helps ease people’s fears about saving money for the future. Since graduating Clemson in 2006 with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Patel has had an opportunity to accomplish many things, such as starting an All-Girl Cheer program at Clemson University, opening up multiple Subway Franchise while working for a non-profit organization in Spartanburg, South Carolina for ten years. We caught up with her to learn about her career and how Clemson prepared her for it.
Q: What is a typical day/week like at your job?
I work with investors and each investor is unique. Some clients are just starting out with investments, so I help to create a plan tailored just for them based on their risk level and time horizon. For some clients, I provide guidance on how they can make better, more informed choices.
There are also many conversations with clients on all the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 pandemic. As I help clients navigate to, though, and beyond retirement in this ever-changing world, my education from Clemson and major in psychology allows me to add value by establishing strong relationships with my clients.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is engaging with clients in a process of learning about their financial priorities, analyzing their investment needs, understanding their risks levels, and then offering them advice on how to proceed forward. I believe when this is done well, this service to clients can be among the most import aspects of their future success. Seeing them feel confident and less afraid of their investments especially given the current market volatility is a very rewarding experience.
Q: Describe your career path since graduating from Clemson.
Since graduating from Clemson, I have had the opportunity to own multiple businesses. I owned Subway Franchises, a yogurt business, and I became an author. I also served as a Business Development and Marketing Manager at the Upward Star Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I also chose to further my education by pursuing a master’s degree with focus in finance. This allowed me to make more valuable connections, pursue necessary professionally skills and foster personal development.
Q: What are your three top memories of your job/career?
In my current role, I would say the top memory would be when we had to figure out how do business as usual in the extraordinary environment caused by COVID-19 pandemic. It was quite impressive to see how quickly our firm along with others adapted their processes and successfully meet clients’ needs.
In my last job, as a business development manager of a sports complex, I had an opportunity to host Deshaun Watson’s Football Clinic the summer after his rookie year. That was pretty amazing. We had to establish a strong process in place to manage traffic, media, and the general public while ensuring paid participants of the clinic had a first-class experience.
As a Subway franchise owner, my top memory, although not a positive one in the moment, was when a teenager was texting and driving and did not slow down and ran right through the windows and into the lobby of our restaurant. I am grateful no one was injured in the accident. As a business owner, you wear many hats and on this particular day, I quickly became a facility maintenance manager. I knew I could not afford to stay closed for 2 months until the insurance made a decision and I was able to hire a contractor to install new glass window, drywall, fixtures, etc. My husband (also a Clemson grad) and I, drove to Lowes, bought plywood to block and secure that side of the entrance. We bought some paint and created a sign that said, “Please Do Not Text and Drive. We Are Open. Use Other Side Entrance.” This attracted more customers and our sales increased due to curiosity.
Q: What inspired you to take this path?
Money is many individuals top worry. It ranks higher than health, family, and work. Helping others to save for retirement and provide guidance for better decision making, helps to make people feel better and alleviates stress. It’s a form of counseling in my opinion.
Q: How did Clemson prepare you for your career?
I spent a great deal of time learning about research methods and statistics through the psychology department at Clemson. I learned how to gather, organize, analyze, and interpret data. These are vital skills that I can apply not just in my current role as a Financial Advisor but in the past ten years of owning Subway Franchises and as a Business Development Manager at Upward Sports. The skills I acquired during the study of psychology such as analyzing data, communicating complex information, and understanding human behavior, are all useful when making decisions, evaluating progress, and completing tasks.
Q: What was your favorite Clemson memory?
Can I have two favorite memories? First one would be that I met my husband, Adam Britton there. Clemson holds a very special place in our hearts for that main reason.
My second favorite memory would be shortly after graduating Clemson, I was hired on as the Spirit Coordinator-Cheerleading coach. It was also when Dabo Swinney was hired as the interim head coach. His energy and positivity perpetuated throughout the campus, other sports, and especially in our football program. It was exciting being on the sideline watching a “Cinderella” story unfold. He was an interim coach that many didn’t believe in. But he believed in himself and he knew how to help others believe in themselves and he managed to take a program through his leadership and character to one of the most talked about programs in the country.
Q: Do you volunteer with any organizations in the community?
When I first moved from India to America, I did not know any English. I had an amazing teacher who took the time to teach me English as Second Language (ESL). Now, I enjoy being able to teach students ESL. We also enjoy serving through opportunities created by our church in Simpsonville, such as serving the homeless in our community.
Q: Any advice for students wanting a similar career?
My psychology degree has allowed me to make a real difference in people’s lives. Earning a psychology degree is a great way to help others overcome adversity, increase their well-being and make them realize their full potential. The skills you will learn in this major, such as analyzing data, communicating complex information, and understanding human behavior, will allow you to better understand human behaviors which is an important skill in every career.
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