By Allison Scola
At her Commencement ceremony in 1997, Allison Fillmore Magliocco was overwhelmed with gratitude. She remembers feeling grateful for having had the opportunity to study the great works of literature, art, and music; for instruction and guidance from renowned professors; and for the freedom to learn at Columbia as an adult student. When she heard GS Dean Gillian Lindt confer her degree, granting her with “the rights, responsibilities, and privileges, thereto attached,” the statement deeply struck her heart.
“It’s a responsibility I take very seriously,” Magliocco says. “With all of the rights and privileges that we have as a result of a Columbia University education, we also have a responsibility. It would be very empty to have this kind of privileged education and not put it to good and share it with others.”
Magliocco has spent much of her adult life sharing the fruits of her success with others. After earning a degree in the sciences early in her life, she started her career in Denver, Colo. in E.F. Hutton’s analyst training program. Over the years, she built a notable résumé in asset management with E. F. Hutton, Fidelity Investments, and PaineWebber; however, in 1994, she decided to take a leave of absence in order to attend Columbia and earn the education she aspired to have.
While at GS, Magliocco majored in comparative literature with a focus in Italian. She spent a summer studying in Scandiano, Italy with Professor Jo Ann Cavallo; she took Shakespeare with Professor James S. Shapiro; and she honed her critical thinking and writing skills. Her professors and fellow students challenged her to think differently. Ultimately, the experience enhanced her
strengths. “As a young person, I didn’t have a support system guiding me through the college search and application process. I found myself trying to figure it out for myself,” Magliocco recalls. “Coming out the other end of [my Columbia education] … experiencing all of the ways it has
changed my life and developed me into the woman I am today—my career changed, my connection to my Italian heritage changed, my sense of philanthropy changed, and my personal politics changed.”
"It would be very empty to have this kind of privileged education and not put it to good and share it with others.”
- Allison Fillmore Magliocco
After graduation, Sierra Global Management, a New York-based European long/short equity hedge fund, hired Magliocco because of her analyst background, coupled with her newly acquired Italian language skills, experience of having lived in Europe, and Columbia University degree. Eventually,
she became a partner responsible for investor relations, executive marketing, and operational management. Her work in the hedge fund industry enabled her to participate in social-justice causes, specifically those that assist women and children in need. She served as the philanthropy committee chair of the international nonprofit 100 Women in Hedge Funds and a board member of High Water Women, and she was a president’s council member of the International Women’s
“I’ve experienced poverty. I know what it feels like. My Ivy League degree gave me the confidence to transform that experience and gave me the courage to look into the eyes of confused children and terrified women in dire situations and treat them with dignity. It enabled me to support them,” Magliocco says.
In 2007, Magliocco’s years of experience led her to become a cofounder and managing partner of Monitor Capital, LLC, a brokerdealer specializing in private placements for hedge funds and private equities. Then, in 2011, when her younger sister faced a lifeterminating illness, Magliocco again shuffled her priorities. She asked her partners to buy her out and she became her sister’s healthcare advocate.
The time away from the industry changed Magliocco’s life. Once her sister received a clean bill of health, instead of returning to the world of finance, Magliocco decided to focus on her home life in order to support her husband Joseph and stepson Matthew and to give more to philanthropic causes. That led Magliocco to play a vital role in 2013 during Columbia Giving Day, when she and Joseph supported GS’s Yellow Ribbon Program Fund with a matching donation.
“For those people who didn’t start their lives in privilege, education is still the path to upward mobility,” Magliocco states, “Because so much of my current life can be attributed to what I learned at Columbia, I understand the value of having this educational opportunity. If I could change the doubting voices in one student’s head, I know I will have been successful. The point is, giving back is a responsibility.”