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Alumnus recognizes the values and experiences provided by liberal arts education as relevant to his success in international marketplace
Nick Severino '88, B.S. Business Administration
by Mary Denny
“The first sign something was wrong was when I began reading The Wall Street Journal at age ten.” That’s Chicago native, now-Californian Nick Severino explaining his early preference for business and eschewing his family’s long tradition of entering the medical profession. It was an insightful, self-aware choice that—after stops at Andersen and Gap Inc.—has taken him to the top echelons of international business as vice president and chief financial officer for Apple Retail.
Since joining Apple in 2005—“before iPhone and iPad and the incredible array of new software and services that have been introduced”— Nick has fueled the growth of Apple’s direct business from a few stores in the U.S. to 506 physical stores in 22 countries, most recently in China, UAE, Brazil, and Turkey, and established online digital stores in 35 countries, most recently in Thailand and Malaysia. Nick, who is creative and infectiously enthusiastic, promises, “Just like our products, the Apple Retail experience will never stop evolving.” Crediting the success of Apple stores to their ability to bring communities together, he says, “I believe that when you build great gathering places, fill them with the best people, and trust them with the mission of inspiring the world with Apple products and services, the outcome will be nothing short of breathtaking.”
Nick’s strong work ethic and thirst for broad knowledge were evident during his Trinity years. A business major, he sought out the “very tough” accounting classes because “they were great classes for critical thinking,” he says. Ironically, despite his intense focus on business, Nick says one of the most enriching and important experiences during his Trinity years was a China/Japan study-abroad tour, led by history professor Don Clark. That trip and the courses he took with Clark taught him how important it is to be aware of a country’s history and culture and understand how that impacts a country’s endeavors on the international stage. This insight “remains even more relevant to this day as political shifts continue to happen.” That experience instilled in him a quest for lifelong learning, which he firmly believes is more essential than ever as we navigate our increasingly technological and fast-paced environment. He also worked part time at Jefferson Bank, where he says he learned “how to manage academic and work responsibilities, the importance of service, that people are an organization’s most valuable asset, and that great leadership is always about connecting to the community.”
Despite his rigorous courses and work schedule, Nick made time to become involved in campus life. He was treasurer and fundraising chair of the Catholic Students Group, served on the Trinity Admissions Council’s special events committee, and was founding vice president of the Trinity University Financial Management Association, which brought the Merrill Lynch Investment Challenge to Trinity, sponsored presentations by local business leaders on issues in financial management, and coordinated mock interviews with the Trinity placement office. After graduation, he completed his CPA requirements and earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Nick is often called upon to share his guiding principles and perspective on leadership. He advocates low ego leadership, a collaborative culture, and stresses the importance of humility “as it is based on one’s ability to work with others.” He singles out stamina and mental toughness as critical in that “as you grow more successful, even greater levels of intensity are required.” He believes that business is a team effort: “Each of us plays a part, but we can do very little on our own.” At best, Nick adds, “a fulfilling career implies that work is not work. It is another love in your life.”
Prominent among the other loves in Nick’s life are “the most beautiful and awesome woman in the world,” to whom he has been married for more than 20 years, and their three sons, two of whom he is guiding on their college searches, and he is excited that Trinity is among their top choices. Outside of work he enjoys sailing, auto racing, and patronizing the arts. Above all, he relishes traveling with his family and introducing them to the many different countries and cultures he has been privileged to experience during his international career.
Whether at home or abroad, on the job or at play, Nick remains grounded and humble, saying, “I place a great importance on my faith and trying to live a life that mirrors my beliefs.” He is looking forward to sharing his personal story and expanding on the value of a liberal arts education when he delivers the keynote address at Trinity on Tour in April 2019.
You can contact Nick at Severinofamily [at] me.com.