Catching up with Greg Barrow ’87 Barrow’s experience at W&L gave him the confidence to work through any challenge or opportunity.
What was your major at W&L, and how does it apply to your career now?
Business Administration, but I also had 18 credits in Computer Science and was going to double major in it. I ended up in the computer industry for 10 years, back in the computer hardware days. For the last 20+ years I have run General Capital Partners, and we have completed more than 150 transactions. I still lean on the things I learned in my 18 credits of accounting classes and in my finance classes. Great stuff in the C-school.
What was your first job after graduation?
I went to Wall Street in the fall of 1987 to make my mark in finance, but was greeted by Black Monday and jobs were scarce. I did get my first job at Chase Manhattan Bank, NA (now the megabank) thanks to a W&L alum and fellow Phi Psi, Chris Komosa ’88. I lasted a mere four and a half months as ties, suits and subways did not work for me — and I was off to L.A.
How did W&L prepare you for your career?
I learned how to think. I took classes in many different areas and left feeling confident that I can work through challenges and opportunities as they appear.
What are some of your major or memorable career milestones?
I enjoyed living and working out in California in 1989 trading computer equipment amongst Fortune 500 companies back when hardware was “a thing.” I went out there for a real job in a real city yet was still living at the beach. Ironically a transfer moved me to the mountains in Denver one year later, and I have lived here since 1990.
I was also part of the management team at a nut-free snack company about five years ago. I have been around transactions most of the past 20 years and I really enjoyed being on a team and building a brand with a specific purpose.
Who or what has most inspired you along the way? (Staff, faculty, classmates, internships, alumni, etc.)
As a student I looked up to and learned a lot from my dorm counselor, Kevin Kelley ’85. Kevin’s discipline and work habits changed me from a scatterbrained freshman to a slightly less frenetic being in one short year. We stayed close after that year and he actually ended up in Denver as well.
Later in life I was backed by a W&L alum, Cort Dietler, a Denver legend that attended W&L around World War II. He passed away in 2008, but our company General Capital Partners survives 20 years later, and his confidence and self-deprecating manner still inspires me to this day.
In addition, I helped build and develop the entrepreneurship program with Jeff Shay, Larry Connolly and so many other gifted alums. Working alongside them has been a huge highlight for me.
Also, Ed Parkinson ’87 was my next door neighbor in Graham Lee freshman year, my fellow dorm counselor and summer roommate at the beach, and we remain close today. He lives his life in a way that motivates me to live life fully.
What do you miss most about your time at W&L?
The simplicity. It seemed hectic here and there but compared to my 35 years in the real world and my 24/7 world today, it was four years of bliss: learning, laughs, workouts and making memories.
What was the one class you most enjoyed outside of your major, and why?
Discrete Math, taught by Professor Vinson. I probably should have been a math major — I was good at it and it always made sense.
What is the one class or professor you wish you could return to campus and take a class with now?
Spanish with Larry Boetsch — he was always excited and passionate to teach. I would take those classes all over again.
What is one thing on your W&L bucket list that you would still like to accomplish?
Attending my 75th reunion in 2062!
What advice would you give to next year’s graduating class?
You are looking at 360 degrees of opportunity in 2023: if you want to try something, then go do it. I’ve lived my life off a Mark Twain refrigerator magnet I saw long ago: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I have some bumps and bruises but no regrets.
Tell a favorite memory in five sentences or less.
Freshman year, dorm living. Everyone in my hall would get back from the library or emerge from their rooms late at night, each night, during the week. We would order Domino’s pizza and talk and dish it out late into the night. Good times; I’m still in fairly regular contact with five of those guys.
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