Wood, 57, has spent 30 years at Morgan Stanley, where he’s a senior adviser after holding managerial roles including global head of sales for fixed income and equities.
While the duties of part-time college golf coach may not seem to dovetail with that of an executive at the world’s top merger adviser, Wood says he sees similarities.
“You recruit kids from schools, you try to get the best talent, you give them the tools to learn the business, then basically mentor them, and hopefully they come through in a big way,” Wood, of Huntington, New York, said in a telephone interview. “A lot of the kids I hired as MBA’s and analysts are now managing directors running the business. It’s very rewarding seeing somebody who you kind of picked.”
Wood never has coached golf before but brings a competitive background to his new job.
He was captain of the golf team in 1975 as a senior at Manhattan, which plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and has memberships at Huntington Country Club and Garden City Golf Club on New York’s Long Island. He finished ninth at last year’s Long Island Senior Open at Fresh Meadow Country Club against professionals and amateurs. He has a 2.3 handicap index and said he’s played all but six or seven of Long Island’s 140 golf courses.
“If you talk to anybody who played golf in college or high school at the competitive level, they’ll tell you that as they got older they learned a lot more about the game and their swing,” Wood said. “That’s what I can bring to the table for these kids: How do you manage yourself around the golf course as opposed to just getting up and ripping it?”
After graduating from Manhattan with an accounting degree, Wood started his career at Ernst & Ernst, then spent one year at Merrill Lynch before joining Morgan Stanley in 1978 as a municipal bond trader. He got his MBA in 1980 after taking night classes with his wife.
Wood left in 2003, going to Credit Suisse Group AG and working with John Mack, Morgan Stanley’s current chairman. Wood returned to Morgan Stanley in 2005 and a year or so later resumed playing competitive golf in senior tournaments. In his current advisory position, Wood helps with Morgan Stanley’s charity efforts and client relationships.
Wood’s ability to manage -- in the boardroom and on a long par-5 -- appealed to Manhattan Athletic Director Bob Byrnes. The two were introduced within the last year by a mutual golf partner, school chaplain Rev. George Hill, and Byrnes contacted Wood when his previous coach retired.
Wood invited Byrnes out for a round at Huntington and offered an impromptu lesson when the athletic director was struggling in a bunker. Wood accepted the coaching vacancy soon after, his flexibility at Morgan Stanley allowing him the chance to pursue the new role. Manhattan College, in New York City’s Riverdale section, is about an hour’s drive from his home. He’s donating his $11,000 salary back to the golf program.
“A lot of this is weekend and some mid-week tournaments, and some time with practice, so it’s a full-time job that’s part time, so to speak,” Byrnes said. “But once you meet Jerry, you see why he’s such a successful businessman because he quickly gets to the subject and heart of the matter. He’s a terrific player himself and is going to be a great teacher.”
Wood, who is married with three children between the ages of 23 and 27, got a perfect score on the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s recruiting test for coaches and has already arranged team travel for the season that begins Sept. 9 with the Central Connecticut State Blue Devil Fall Invitational. He can’t meet or practice with his players until classes start at the end of this month.
“I’m excited because a lot of the kids on our team are business students or engineering students and I think that not only will he help them in golf, but really in their future lives,” Byrnes said. “This is a unique hire for me, and I’m not a rookie. This is my 24th year. It’s very energizing for me that Jerry will be with us.”
Steve D’Antonio, Morgan Stanley’s global head of securitized products, has seen Wood’s competitive drive, on and off the course. D’Antonio, who said it’s a “rare but wonderful moment” when he takes Wood’s money in a match, predicts his colleague and golfing buddy will be as successful with college players as he has been with clients.
“He’s had leadership roles, he’s a very good communicator and he gets along with a very wide range of people,” D’Antonio, who’s known Wood since his first day at Morgan Stanley 25 years ago, said by phone. “He had relationships with a very broad set of people and clients.”
Byrnes said Wood has a natural “knack for communicating and that’s really what coaching is.”
While Wood has a lot of experience to impart, D’Antonio joked that it’s unlikely he’ll be sharing too many swing tips with his players when they step to the tee.
“I can tell you one thing, his kids will have much better looking swings than his,” said D’Antonio, 51. “He has an ugly swing, it just works. He just repeats it. The kids on the team will have a good time with that, but he gets it done. He’s in the fairway all day long.”
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