Like many teenagers with wanderlust, Matthew Tipple felt he was biding his time in high school, waiting for his chance to leave his hometown to go out and see the big world.
He did just that, leaving Rochester for new experiences that included a promising career and marriage. But like many accomplished professionals who leave the area for a time, Tipple ultimately decided to come back. Now he is a relationship manager with M&T Bank Corp.
"You never feel like you are part of a community in a big city like Boston," Tipple explained. "That's why I picked M&T. It's a bank that's more community-focused. I was fortunate enough to get an opportu-nity there when I came back to Rochester."
Tipple graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1994 and then headed to the University of Vermont. After graduation he started his career with a boutique firm in Burlington, eSecLending LLC, as a founding employee.
From there he moved to Boston, where he was responsible for the short-term fixed-income and cash collateral group, which managed $30 billion on behalf of large pension funds and insurance companies. He also met his wife, Julie, in Boston.
Tipple spent eight years with eSecLending, and during that time he lived and worked in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He later joined Pearl Insurance Group, a job that took him to London for two years.
"I cut my teeth running all over the place," Tipple said. "But when my wife and I decided we wanted to settle down and raise a family, we decided to come to Rochester."
Tipple said he came home to Rochester not only for the sense of community he wanted to regain from his childhood, but also for the next step in his career. He earned an MBA at the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business.
After that he transitioned from institutional asset management to corporate banking and joined M&T Bank in June.
"We made the right decision to move back here. We bought a house. We have two little kids now," Tipple said. "Looking back, I was the classic kid who thought where he grew up was boring. I couldn't get away fast enough. But once you do leave, you appreciate all Rochester has to offer."
Today, Tipple gives back to his hometown and tries to help kids who might be like him by teaching at his alma mater.
"I am a board member at Junior Achievement, and I teach four or five classes a year at School 46. That's where I went to school as a kid," Tipple said. "J.A. fosters business development programs for kids in areas such as work readiness and entrepreneurship, and my experience in startup companies and traveling the world lends well to that."
With a full-time career, volunteer work and a young family, it is not often that Tipple gets to go back to Vermont to visit, he said. But he is content making his life here now.
"You think the smart people are in Boston, Chicago, New York City, but the truth is the smart ones are the ones who were smart enough to stay here," Tipple said. "I give a lot of credit to people who knew to stay here from the start."
The social-cause lure
Attorney Jeremy Wolk started his career in the Big Apple but returned to the Flower City, where he finds great fulfillment in the area's strong commitment to social causes.
Wolk, a 2010 Forty Under 40 honoree, is counsel with Nixon Peabody LLP. He left Rochester in 1995 to pursue his law degree at Hofstra University on Long Island and got his first position as an associate with Breslow & Walker LLP in New York City.
As his career flourished, he took a new position with media giant iVillage, where he eventually became its senior vice president and general counsel. When NBC Universal bought the company, Wolk saw it as a turning point.
"The sale presented a fork in the road for me. I could stay in the media industry and spend the rest of my career in New York," he explained. "Or I could come home to Rochester to be with my family.
"I was very close with them and in particular my aging grandfather, and I really wanted to spend as much time as I could with him."
Wolk and his wife, Melanie, moved back to Rochester in 2007, and he enjoyed four and a half years with his grandfather, which Wolk said he is very grateful to have had. Since he has been back he has come to a deeper appreciation of his hometown.
"From a cultural and relationship perspective, we tend to be more qualitative here," Wolk said. "Much more social and charitable action occurs in Rochester than in other cities of comparable size."
Wolk and his wife, a member of the 2011 Forty Under 40 class and an attorney with Goldberg Segalla LLP, are committed to social causes. Wolk is president of the Jewish Community Center as well as treasurer and finance chairman of the Monroe Community College Foundation. He also is a trustee of the Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation.
"We've found ourselves being able to be involved in the community in addition to the workplace here," Wolk said. "In New York there wasn't the same opportunity. There's an expectation here locally that people will get involved. In New York there's an obvious anonymity. There's not an emphasis on social causes. Here you have more opportunity to make a significant difference."
The Wolks live just outside the city line in Brighton. They love the area for the great variety of things to do.
"The Rochester music scene makes this a unique place. With the Eastman School of Music and the RPO, it's great," Wolk said. "There are so many activities here. If people complain, they are not seeking out things to do. It's hard to be bored here on the weekend."
The big-city life also called Rochester native Amy Tait away right out of college. She said the experiences she gained in New York City helped her grow professionally, but the contacts she made in Rochester are the ones she still uses today.
Tait, who received a Forty Under 40 award in 1996, graduated from Penfield High School and left to attend Princeton University. She earned a B.S. in civil engineering, then joined Chemical Bank in New York City. After completing a six-month management training program, she joined the commercial real estate lending division of the bank.
"It was a great place to launch my career," Tait said. "I was in New York City, 22 years old, working as a loan officer doing $100 million deals, negotiating with very successful businesspeople.
"It gave me an opportunity to get some experience that I could bring back to the family business that I wouldn't have been able to add if I had come back here directly from college."
After two years in New York, covering the Washington, Maryland and Virginia region, Tait was relocated to Wilmington, Del., along with about 30 other young professionals. She went from renting a studio apartment and riding the subway to owning a four-bedroom house and driving a luxury car.
"I decided that maybe small-town living wasn't so bad after all," Tait said. "I talked with my father and decided if I was going to settle down in a small town, why not return to Rochester and join the family business?"
She began working on finance and acquisitions for Home Leasing Corp., which at the time was owned by her father and uncle, Norman and Nelson Leenhouts. Tait eventually became executive vice president and a director of Home Properties Inc. when the family took it public in 1994. Today, Home Properties has a market capitalization exceeding $6 billion.
Tait said continued education in Rochester helped her in her professional development and career growth.
"One of the first things I did when I returned was to enroll in the Simon School executive development program," she said. "I made great contacts there I still have today."
Tait also had her first date with her future husband, Robert, after she returned to Rochester. He is a Princeton graduate she met while the two were on campus more than a decade earlier. They married, started a family and, together with her father, started a new company, Broadstone Real Estate, in 2006. Tait is chairman and CEO.
"We are extremely happy here in Rochester. It has a low cost of living, lack of traffic, great cultural and recreational offerings and a good education system," Tait said.
She hopes her children, who both attend Princeton University, will be able to have experiences similar to hers.
"I would recommend the same path for them that we took," Tait said. "Go out into the big, wide world. Then come back when you can appreciate all Rochester has to offer."
Lori Gable is a Rochester-area freelance writer.
11/9/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.