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Then and now, IU Northwest continues to build confident business leaders

1971 alumnus Tim Boroughs reflects on career, college and how IUN’s mission remains the same

Alumni Sep 7, 2023
Tim Boroughs poses for a picture with his mother at Commencement.
Tim Boroughs poses for a picture with his mother at Commencement.

The campus looked substantially different to business finance alumnus Tim Boroughs during his recent visit to Indiana University Northwest.

But while the campus and its buildings may have changed over time, the mission of IU Northwest, where Boroughs graduated in 1971 with the highest honors, remains the same as it was more than 50 years ago.

“IU Northwest, it certainly gave me an academic foundation,” Boroughs said, noting how what he learned on the Northwest campus about money and the banking system he still uses today as the Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer at Chubb, the largest publicly traded P&C insurance company by market cap.

Meeting with students, Boroughs shared some photos from his graduation and spent time talking and listening to presentations from current business students, several of whom have benefited from his contributions to the STARS (Students Together Achieving & Reaching Success) peer mentoring program.

No such program existed when Boroughs attended IU Northwest. He does, however, understand the importance of confidence. Because more than the academic foundation IU Northwest provided for him, several moments propelled the Highland, Indiana native to a widely successful business career.

Now, he’s hoping to give current students the same confidence he developed on the Northwest campus more than 50 years ago.

How IU Northwest launched Boroughs’ career

Boroughs smiled as he told the story about his guidance counselor at Highland High School.

“They basically said, ‘You shouldn’t go to college. You’re not college material,’” Boroughs said. “I was pretty determined, and independent at the time and I have been ever since. So, IU Northwest accepted me on academic probation, and I ended up graduating first in my class.”

There are stages in everyone’s life when they’re particularly impressionable, Boroughs said. College is a time when you can be supported positively or negatively. And that support can have long-lasting impacts. While Boroughs’ determination helped him graduate college with straight A’s, several moments in his IU Northwest career set him up for success.

One of the most memorable was when Boroughs scored a 98 on an introductory finance exam taught by Sam Dreher, the eventual founder of H.S. Dreher Capital Management. Dreher pulled Boroughs aside to tell him if he became a finance major, Dreher would help him land an internship at Northern Trust Company in Chicago the following summer. Boroughs quickly agreed.

“That summer was so cool,” Boroughs said. “I really felt that I had some self-worth, you know?”

To this day, Dreher serves as Borough’s financial advisor.

There were plenty of other moments where Boroughs was forced to think outside the box, challenged by his professors and influenced by them.

 

Instilling confidence in current students

Boroughs knows not everyone is as lucky or as determined as he was in college. That’s why he and his wife, Barbara, chose to invest in the STARS Peer Mentoring Experience Program.

Through STARS, which began in 2017, first-year, first-generation and underrepresented students are provided with connection opportunities, motivational encouragement, resources and a place to ask questions of rising upperclassmen.

When Boroughs visited IU Northwest, he was happy to see the program is helping create confident and competent business leaders.

“The STARS students conducted a presentation of a product they designed, and they were pretty proud of all that,” Boroughs said. “I was very impressed with the presentation. The subject matter was well thought out and the students were articulate and confident. It all looked like it was working.”

Tim Boroughs takes a picture with IU Northwest STARS students during his visit to his alma mater.

Moments like those are why Boroughs has decided to give back to his alma mater. He and Barbara also received a box of hand-written letters around Christmas from around two dozen students about how confident they felt thanks to the program.

Out of the 40 mentors who have gone through STARS, 34 have graduated and have gone on to work as business owners, credit analysts, financial advisors and more. The other six seniors are currently enrolled in classes this fall.

Confidence is key. When Boroughs was told by his guidance counselor he shouldn’t go to college, he could’ve quit. Others never receive the guidance they need in college and might not finish. Through STARS and as the chair of the Squash Education Alliance, Boroughs hopes to continue inspiring confidence that leads to life-long success for students.

“You’re going to run into these moments in life where things are really going wrong. How are you going to deal with it?” Boroughs said. “Your resilience is really a function of the way you feel about yourself and you’ve got to remain positive; that’s hard to teach in a classroom.

“But if you set up a facility that helps to engender mentoring and encouragement; that all helps to build self-confidence.”

As much as things change, they stay the same

Boroughs’ company operates in 54 countries and territories around the globe. Living in New York, it’s hard for him to come back to IU Northwest, making his most recent visit even more special.

The building where he worked as an assistant placement director was gone. He was able, however, to point out where he walked across the stage at graduation and shared the photo with the students and faculty during his visit.

After his graduation, Boroughs spent some time in the United States Army and returned to Chicagoland to work at Continental Bank. He later became the managing partner and director of global leveraged investment activity at Fischer Francis Trees & Watts, director of fixed income at Tudor Investment Corporation and chief investment officer at ACE Group, which was acquired by Chubb in 2016.

Through all his success, however, Boroughs continues to think back to his time at IU Northwest and support it as an alumnus.

Because, for as much as has changed in the 52 years since Boroughs graduated, much has stayed the same.

There are still inspired students from Northwest Indiana and beyond, passionate educators guiding their students and professional opportunities for growth in and out of the classroom.

“There were some key moments when I was at IU Northwest that changed the way I thought about myself,” Boroughs said. “My hope is that in giving back, we can influence several students a year, that were headed one way and change the way they think about themselves. Barb and I hope that is exactly what we can accomplish.”

 

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