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“People communicate their needs to you every day”: Nick Noriega’s story

Nick Noriega
Since he was 17, Nick Noriega has wanted to be a financial advisor. In spring quarter 2023, he enrolled in Business 101.

Little did he know that these two paths would converge sooner rather than later.

His team pitched Sign Academy – a hybrid sign installation course that filled a need for education for this skilled trade. Their idea made it to the Driehaus Cup finals, where it won the Audience Choice Award.

As part of this award, Nick and his team got the chance to meet with representatives from Morningstar, which sponsors the Driehaus Cup. The connection was made in large part thanks to Laura Kohl (MBA ‘94), Chief Information Officer at Morningstar and a member of the Driehaus Business Advisory Council.

When Nick researched Morningstar in preparation for the meeting, its mission immediately resonated.

“When I started to gain financial knowledge, my first thought was: why doesn’t everyone know this?” he reflects. “When you go on Morningstar’s website, that’s their whole mission. They want everyone to know what hedge funds and mutual funds know.”

Nick knew from firsthand experience just how important financial education was. After his mother’s death, he recalls his family meeting with a financial advisor. Nick was struck by how important this meeting was in providing reassurance.

“It made me hopeful,” he says. “My mom’s gone, but at least our family is going to be taken care of financially.”

Fast-forward several years, and Nick is a few steps closer to translating his experience into a career. The Driehaus Cup was one such step. Getting connected to Morningstar was another.

He recalls walking around the company’s offices.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” he says. “It’s a very open floor plan. It gave us a better sense of what day to day life might look like if we land a job there, or do an internship.”

Nick has one more example of what his career could look like. Thanks to Business 101, he’s also cultivated the skills needed to make that career a reality.

Looking back, there are two major takeaways that stand out.

The first insight: Entrepreneurship can make you more attuned to the world around you.

“My professor talked a lot about the entrepreneurial process,” Nick says. “A big part of it was identifying a need. If you think about it, people communicate their needs to you every day.” 

The second insight: Entrepreneurship teaches you how to persist.

Entrepreneurship, Nick says, “is iterative. If you make a plan, it doesn’t have to go on one track. You constantly have to go back and revise.”

This piece is part of Voices of the Driehaus Cup, a series of five interviews with students who competed in the first three Driehaus Cup competitions. In this series, you'll hear from a wide range of voices: first-year students and transfer students; seasoned entrepreneurs and students just embarking on their careers. One through-line: Competing in the Driehaus Cup helped a​ll five students push themselves into the next phase of their career.