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Jay Helvey ('81)
After a globetrotting career in finance in New York, Tokyo and Frankfurt, Jay Helvey ('81) now works out of an office in the guesthouse behind his home off Stratford Road. "We had lived in big cities and we had lived abroad, and we thought wouldn't it be nice to raise our family back in North Carolina." Helvey, his wife, Jane, and their sons, Cole, 17, Jed, 15, and Walker, 13, moved from New York to Winston-Salem in 1999.
"The quality of life is tremendous here," he says. "Sure I gave up some professional opportunities. But it comes down to what are your priorities in life?" For Helvey, that means being able to spend more time with his family, more opportunities to be involved with his church, and the "appeal of Southern culture" — which he describes as everything from the friendliness of the people to the beautiful weather to the proximity to the mountains and coast. "There's a tremendous sense of community here that's enhanced by Wake Forest," he adds.
A native of Lexington, N.C. (his mother, Doris, is a 1952 graduate of Wake Forest), and a political science and German double-major at Wake Forest, Helvey met his future wife, Jane, while she was a student at Salem College. After graduating, he received a Fulbright Scholarship and studied at the University of Cologne for a year and then earned a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University. He joined J.P. Morgan in 1985, lived in Asia and Europe for seven years — running the company's derivative trading operation — and then moved to New York, eventually rising to vice chairman of the company's risk management committee. But by 1999, he was pondering a change.
During a visit to Winston-Salem for a meeting of the University's Board of Trustees he decided the time was right. "I got a little Lexington barbeque, the 'hot and now' light was on at Krispy Kreme, it was ACC Tournament time, and the azaleas were blooming," he recalled. "I just knew there was more to life than leaving the house at 5:30 every morning to drive into lower Manhattan and then coming back home at 8 o'clock at night. My wife and I felt a nudge, the old dream we had from college, to raise our family in Winston-Salem."
He stayed with J.P. Morgan for another two years, running from his home office a start-up online derivatives service-company that shut down when the dot-com bubble burst. In 2004, he mounted an unsuccessful campaign in the Republican primary to succeed now-U.S. Senator Richard Burr ('78) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since then he's become a partner in a small hedge fund, CMT Asset Management, based in Chicago.
Now, rather than rush to hit the Holland Tunnel by 6 a.m., he can have breakfast with his wife and kids and take his kids to school before his three-minute commute down his driveway to his office. While he still has some unusual hours (working late a couple of nights a week to talk with clients in Asia) and frequent travel to Chicago, New York and overseas, he has more flexibility to do things with his sons during the day. "I enjoy going back to New York," he says, "but I've never once regretted the decision to move."
— Kerry M. King ('85)
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