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Stu and Matt

#SOMBFF: A Helping Hand Leads to a Lifelong Friendship

Generations of students have made lifelong friends at Yale SOM. Matthew Carpenter ’95 and Stuart Staley ’95 share their #SOMBFF story.

Matthew: I met Stuart in fall of 1993, first year at SOM. I was struggling in one statistics/game theory class, and of course Stu had already aced the class and had been made the TA. I remember we met and then it seemed he almost immediately began spending a lot of time with me and my wife, Beck. From that first meeting, it was clear that Stu had a lot of firepower, an extremely broad set of interests, yet was extremely approachable.

Stu is one of those rare people that is just remarkably competent, yet has no need to remind you that this is the case. We hit it off immediately, and not only did Stu become one of my closest friends, he also became a great friend to my wife, my college and SOM friends, my later colleagues, and my entire family. Virtually everyone that deals with Stu can see that he is as transparent as he is sharp, and as curious as he is humble.

“From day one, I think we saw we shared a similar worldview that you don’t need to take yourself too seriously to be a competent and trusted individual.” —Matt Carpenter ’95

 No matter what Stu is doing, whether as a rising star early in his career, or as a proven leader later, Stu always does two things: he strives for excellence and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Sadly, these two characteristics are not the most common of bedmates in our world. Seeing Stu today, relatively unchanged as a person, despite all his success, has been a pleasure to watch. In addition, having Stuart get to know all the important people in my life—friends, family, children—has also been a real treat. That I have been able to get to know his wife, Gill, and lovely daughters, and his family and friends as well, has made it a very rewarding friendship. Anytime I want to bounce an idea off someone, Stu is at or near the top of the list, and has been for 20+ years.

We have too many wonderful memories to anoint one primacy. I think we were just super lucky to know that you only get to attend this giant carnival once, so you better enjoy it. From day one, I think we saw we shared a similar worldview that you don’t need to take yourself too seriously to be a competent and trusted individual.

Stuart: Matt is a fantastic leader, great with people, excellent business instincts, high IQ/high EQ, fearless, relentlessly positive, always moving forward, unwaveringly self confident, best man in my wedding, godfather to my third daughter, and friend to my entire family.

I was a joint-degree student with the School of the Environment, so I had taken a couple of the first-year core courses the prior year, including Individual Decision Making (IMD). I ended up being one of the TAs for Barry Nalebuff’s IDM class the following year, which was the first year for my SOM classmates. I got to know many of my fellow classmates very well by helping them navigate the spring term. I am sure Matt and I had met before that, but we definitely spent some quality time together that spring. I also became great pals with his wife, Beck, since I was regularly over at their flat for cocktails, dinners, and claymation movies.

Matt is always my first call for advice. I have always admired the clarity with which he sees things. We are similar in a lot of ways, but we are also very different—so I really value his views about whatever I am struggling with because he usually sees something that I haven’t considered.

Matt and I both headed to NYC for our summer internships—he was with Smith Barney, while I was with Booz Allen. I was working around the clock on some “dig-a-ditch/fill-a-ditch” project, and he was constantly calling me to join him for various martini-fuelled Gotham adventures. Over the Fourth of July weekend, he invited me to his parents’ house out in Westchester. I met his parents, his sisters, his grandmother, his high school friends, his college friends, and the band of merry men and women that perpetually create a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere around him—after that, I never stood a chance!

I hold Matt responsible for my career in banking. Matt had been at Citi since we graduated when he suckered me into joining him in 2004. I had only been with Citi for a few years when Matt moved on to greener pastures, and now I have worked at Citi longer than he ever did. It was the ultimate judo maneuver—he used my own momentum against me!