Newman H. Rochester, Jr. ’00 never imagined that majoring in philosophy at Montclair State would lead him to a career in finance. He is currently the vice president of Business Development in Individual Life Insurance at Prudential Financial.
“I believe I achieved a level of success in my career due to my experiences at Montclair State,” he says. “The coursework was rigorous but the professors constantly pushed me to collaborate with others in order to gain a broader perspective of my career potential.”
In his current role, Rochester identifies and develops distribution relationships that leverage new strategic business capabilities. “I strive to be more than just a product provider,” he says. “I take time to assess the big picture, while learning about each firm’s goals and unique challenges.”
In the past 7 years, Rochester has served in various leadership positions at Prudential. He previously held the title of vice president of business development executive, as well as director of client solutions in Sales Strategy and Business Intelligence. He has extensive leadership experience in financial services, having been recognized repeatedly for exceptional sales and service as a manager.
Some of his professional accomplishments include being named Internal Wholesaler of the Year, Sales Leader of the Year, as well as establishing a partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to drive diversity in sales during his time at MetLife.
“As an undergraduate student, I never thought I would be working in my current field,” he says. “I took an interest in a Philosophy class my freshman year and decided to switch majors at the end of the year.”
Initially, he started his college career as a pre-med major at Virginia Wesleyan University but then transferred to Montclair State as it was a better fit. For Rochester, it was the best option because he was closer to home and had the flexibility to go to school and work at the same time.
Reflecting back on his time at Montclair State, he credits one particular professor for leaving a positive impact on his academic career. As he puts it, “Professor David Benfield was the most influential person in my career and gave me the confidence to persevere through my courses.”
Rochester graduated from Montclair State with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2000. He went on to earn his executive MBA from the University of Connecticut, where he also received an Advanced Business Certificate in International Business and studied insurance marketplace in China and Argentina.
Just as he once did, Rochester advises students to pursue their dreams. “Find something that you are interested in and go with it.