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Communication skills lead York College grad to business success

Pasquale Nocera stands on the street in New York City.

Pasquale Nocera never thought he’d end up working for a big bank. When he enrolled as a Mass Communication major at York College of Pennsylvania, he figured he might become a news anchor one day.

“But,” he says, “I’ve always been the kind of person open to where the road’s going to go.”

When an internship at JPMorgan Chase opened his eyes to the world of business, he went with it. Today, nine years after graduating from York College, he’s a vice president and product owner in digital account opening at JPMorgan Chase, and he was recently named a recipient of the Year of 50 Spartans Award.

Communication is key

Pasquale says the foundation built at York College helped him get where he is today. In product and program management, communication is essential, he says. Designers, business people, and technical people don’t always speak the same language; part of his job is being able to communicate effectively with all of them.

All of those are skills he honed at York College, and they’ve helped him be successful in his career. But Pasquale has never been one to just sit back and be comfortable. He’s always pushing himself to learn more and be better.

“The most important thing is never stop learning,” he says. “I truly think that you really need to make it a point to learn as much as possible. Be a sponge.” After a few years in the field, he decided to go back to school to earn his MBA.

A strong work ethic

Pasquale’s father owns his own business. Growing up, Pasquale remembers him always being there for the family, but also working a lot of the time. “I think that work ethic was instilled in me early on,” he says. “Instead of running from that, I embraced it.”

It’s fitting, then, that the biggest test of Pasquale’s work ethic was when he became a father himself. He says the hardest two years of his life was the period when he was working full-time, raising his newborn daughter with his wife, and earning his MBA through a mostly online program from Syracuse University.

Every morning, he’d spend his two-hour commute from New Jersey to Brooklyn working on case studies. He’d work a full day, then spend the commute back home working on his course work again. At home, he’d spend time with his wife and daughter, then get up the next day to do it all over again.

It was difficult, he says, but having a new family actually made him more dedicated to bettering himself. Graduating felt incredible. “Honestly,” he says, “I had so much pride in myself.”

He was inducted into the International Business School Honor Society, an honor that further solidified his belief that going back to school had been the right decision for him. “It gave me reassurance that even though this period was probably the hardest two years of my life, I got through it,” he says.

Paying it forward

Pasquale says he’s not finished learning and growing either—something he’s doing now through mentorship. Whether it’s a senior in college or a person higher up in the company, having someone to bounce ideas off of and to learn from has been incredibly important for him. “Hopefully,” he adds, “as you get to that point in your career you can flip it and be the mentor.”

That’s where he’s at now. He’s been a mentor for many of the newer people at his company. “I get a lot of satisfaction in just helping them,” he says. “It’s a way to give back.”