Adam Reeder '79
"Any success that I may have achieved thus far in life certainly began, in large part, with the foundation I was given at Pike," said Adam Reeder '79. Today, married to DeAnnie and with two sons, Ethan (16) and Austin (13), Reeder is Managing Director and Global Head of Building Products and Building Materials at the investment banking firm Credit Suisse. He leads a global team of bankers who cover companies across the breadth of the building products and materials industries. "It's a seat, an opportunity, a vantage point from which I get to meet and work with CEOs and other senior executives leading businesses of all different types and sizes all over the world – to work with them, advise them, and learn from them in their countries, in their worlds," said Reeder. For example, he recently advised a client in Colombia acquiring a cement business here in North America from a large French company, and he separately helped investors in Italy sell their construction company to a Japanese buyer. For Reeder, bridging cultural differences to help his clients in business is a critical success factor – seeing the world as they do, through their beliefs and histories, without his own cultural biases. Yet even when feeling very far from where he grew up and perhaps particularly at those times, he deeply appreciates the skills and love of learning that he gained at Pike.
Having attended Pike from nursery school through eighth grade, Reeder remembers each and every one of his teachers. From reading time on the blanket with Mrs. Spader in nursery school, to batik art with Mrs. Shovan in Kindergarten, to reading The Odyssey with Mrs. MacNaughton in Upper School, to creating short stories in Mr. Hopkins' eighth grade English class – and all between – Reeder cannot isolate just a single favorite teacher. "It's such a long list. My favorite, if you can call it that, is actually the collective experience of learning from them all, the aggregation of such tremendously different and talented people, all so deeply committed to bringing their knowledge, vision, passion and compassion to their students," said Reeder. Insixth grade, Reeder recalls, he was chosen to be on the varsity basketball team, coached by Mr. Palmer. "It was one of those experiences you remember for a lifetime," said Reeder. The shortest and youngest on the team, Reeder took to heart the lesson of what hard work and "playing smart" can bring, gaining personal confidence from this Pike experience and countless others.
"When I graduated from Pike and entered Phillips Exeter Academy, I carried with me valuable gifts from Pike – the ability to think for myself, to read with openness, to write compellingly, to express myself," said Reeder. With a generous dose of confidence, Reeder felt free to take "less-conventional" classes at Exeter, including archeology, photography, and architecture. He developed a passion for art and architecture and went on to earn a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University. "Education, at its best, is about learning to use one's mind flexibly and full, not cataloguing facts and figures," said Reeder. "To have real drive and truly pursue and achieve excellence, one must have and feel passion." For Reeder, it was the beauty and meaning of art and the myriad architectural designs he studied that moved him.
However, after spending a college summer interning at an architectural design firm, he decided not to pursue a career in architecture. "I saw tremendously talented people spending literally the first decade of their careers drawing someone else's designs and struggling to make ends meet," said Reeder. In banking, Reeder found the opposite."I wanted my career to be about my ideas (after proving myself capable, of course)," said Reeder, "and I realized that my career in investment banking could be about my ideas, from a very young age." He has now been in investment banking in New York City for 26 years, and he attributes a meaningful degree of his success to his early education at Pike, developing skills in critical thinking, research, exploration, and communication.
Today, Reeder's passions also include two organizations for which he serves as a member of their Boards of Trustees: Madison Square Boys & Girls Club and the United Nations International School (UNIS) – both of which are dedicated to youth education and development, but in very different ways. With its mission to "save and enhance lives", Madison serves over 5,000 at-risk youth (ages 6 to 18) at four clubhouses and three school sites in some of New York City's most disadvantaged communities. Reeder takes pride in being a part of this organization, providing stability and education/development services, recreation, nurturing, guidance programs and hope in a safe environment that many kids consider a second home – as he says "blessings that we and our families consider 'basics' and largely take for granted" and are deeply needed "right here in our own backyard".
At the United Nations International School, Reeder is one of a few businessmen on a Board that consists largely of professionals from the United Nations and its "missions". Although located in Manhattan, it is a school where Reeder's son, Austin, as an American, is in a small minority among students from more than 120 countries. Both of the Reeders' sons, now 13 and 16, previously attended a very traditional allboys school starting in Kindergarten. A few years ago, however, Reeder and his wife, DeAnnie made a conscious decision to expand the boys' horizons. "Growing up somewhat 'privileged' on Park Avenue in Manhattan can easily lead to a rather narrow view of the world – and an under-appreciation of the beauty, value and importance of diversity of all types," said Reeder. "UNIS offers its students and their families a uniquely powerful and truly global educational opportunity and community." At the United Nations International School, students, teachers, administrators and Trustees are compelled to think in new ways. Serving on its Board gives Reeder an opportunity to re-energize and to broaden his world view, as well as to reflect on his own independent school education.
"Now that DeAnnie and I have children of our own, I realize how incredibly special a place Pike is," said Reeder. He greatly values the teachers who, while being true to their own individuality and uniqueness, all shared a like-minded approach to bringing their students into the excitement of their respective disciplines – teachers that Reeder remembers so fondly, like Mr. Vivien (English and Latin), Mrs. Jablonski (science) and Mrs. Palmer (theatre), among so many others. Like his mother, Mimi (Ganem) Reeder '53, Reeder also remembers learning to read in Miss Cole's first grade class. "It is so difficult to convey the special beauty and value of Pike in just one sentence, but part of the magic is certainly its rare ability to combine the value of a rich traditional education with a strongly progressive approach – making learning come alive," said Reeder.