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Adapting to Change

dale horn

Photo courtesy of Dale Horn.

Dale Horn '95 

Once he decided against medical school after he graduated from Dickinson, Dale Horn ’95 jumped definitively onto a new path: one that led him to his MBA. Now the former biology major is a financial advisor with UBS Financial Services in Baltimore, where the financial markets keep him on his toes. Read on to see how Horn's Dickinson education prepared him for his career, how he gives back and what he says changed his life in the "best possible way."

Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts approach applies to your career?

It’s funny when I think back: Not a single class I took was geared specifically toward finance, and yet I felt prepared for my MBA. I think it's similar to the impact of playing multiple sports or cross-training your brain versus specializing in one athletic pursuit all year. To me, the variety was key to gaining a better understanding of how to think and constantly learn.

What was your favorite activity at Dickinson?

I spent a summer with Professor [Emeritus] Janet Wright studying an endangered animal that lived under a boulder field on top of one of the local mountains. She gave me a great deal of autonomy to make decisions and get the job done with some pretty expensive equipment. We flew in her airplane and ate dinner with her on numerous occasions. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had that type of relationship with a professor who really cared about my development and gave me room to grow.

What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?

Love at first sight—24 years later, and it keeps getting better.

How do you stay involved with Dickinson?

I've attended a few new-student events over the years. It's great to connect with another generation and remember what it felt like to start a new chapter in life. Additionally, I recently opened myself up as a mentor—something I am really looking forward to. I was once on the other side, looking for answers. It can make an amazing difference to receive some guidance and smooth out the career path.

What about your career excites you most?

I love the constantly changing economic environment—it's impossible to be bored in wealth management. Most of all, I love the people I work with. My team and I work incredibly hard to know everything about our clients' lives that may allow us to do a better job in shepherding them through the financial world.

What does your current work entail?

After attaining a certain degree of success in life, a typical client comes to me as their financial lives become more complicated; advice and guidance can make a significant difference. We typically answer the question, “Am I going to make it?” and guide them to their goals, attempting to avoid potential financial pitfalls along the way.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

The unpredictable nature of financial markets keeps us on our toes when planning for client outcomes.

What comes to mind as something memorable you’ve done since you graduated?

Getting married (Tracey '94), and having two incredible girls (Reilly, 11, and Natalie, 7) has to top the list—they changed my life forever in the best way possible. I'll also throw in one of the most rewarding experiences I've had—spending two weeks in Ecuador with a client on a medical mission. I've never felt the sensation of “doing good” so intensely. We took care of 125 kids a day in some pretty tough conditions. My job title on my name tag read “Entertainment.” I was the laymen with a group of doctors in charge of keeping the waiting kids happy. Balloon animals need no translation.

If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?

There are so many great historical figures I'd love to spend time with, but I have to say Bill Murray. He has tremendous wit and wisdom, and I love the way he lives. Learning to take life as it comes, relax and have fun with it … great lessons.

You just built a time machine: Where and when do you go?

Although it scares me in some ways, I would go forward. Think of the impact you could have if you knew what the world looked like in 500 years or more!

You’re going to live on an island by yourself for a year: What books, albums, and movies do you take with you?

So many choices, I'll limit myself to three—books: Pillars of the Earth, War and Peace and Catcher in the Rye. Albums: Nothing fancy or cutting edge, just good repeatability. The Police’s Synchronicity, U2’s The Joshua Tree and Bob Marley’s Kaya. Movies: The James Bond collection, that gives me one James Bond movie night a week; Goodfellas (bonus: has a great soundtrack); and The Godfather I and The Godfather Part II.

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

I would have traveled more earlier in life after college instead of getting right to work. There is always the pervading thought that you can't take the time, but everything always seems to be waiting for you when you return.

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Published December 3, 2015