Wall Street to War

Straddling two worlds to serve his country

Tim Sanchez, BCEMBA 05
Lieutenant Commander,
U.S. Navy Reserve, Afghanistan
Director-Western Region, NYSE Euronext
Palo Alto, Calif.

Tim Sanchez

Home on leave from Afghanistan earlier this year, Tim Sanchez explains that there are more connections between business experience and military operations than one might think.

“In the combat zone, you’re often doing things on the fly,” says the U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. “It reminds me of a Silicon Valley startup environment, where there are no rules. Day to day, you’re trying to adapt and take advantage of certain situations.”

Sanchez joined the Navy Reserve after 9/11. “I’m not the type of person to sit in a comfy chair and not do something,” he says. A few weeks after graduating from the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program, he was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait, where he spent nine months overseeing troops’ return home.

Back in the United States, he took a job with a startup, VestMatch, a collaborative savings platform that folded during the 2008 downturn. He then started working for the New York Stock Exchange in Palo Alto, managing the relationships of 175 West Coast-listed companies across all industries and market capitalizations.

In October 2012, the Navy sent him to Afghanistan. In a compound outside Kabul, Sanchez worked 15 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, equipping and training the Afghan police in their fight against the Taliban and other insurgents. He also provided military forces with equipment and weapons to conduct operations and helped move troops around the country.

“It has been an incredible experience helping a country build an infrastructure from the ground up. It’s probably the most rewarding, fulfilling thing I’ve done,” he says. “We’re doing our part to secure the United States’ safety.”

Though not involved in direct combat, Sanchez frequently traveled outside the compound, which can be dangerous. He says he wasn’t scared, however: “We’re trained to deal with the situation at hand.”

Before Sanchez’s tour of duty in Afghanistan ended in June, the father of three managed to speak to his wife and children once a day using WiFi. He quips, “She likes to say I went from one battlefield, the New York Stock Exchange, to another, Afghanistan.” –Mandy Erickson

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