Linda Davila (B.S. ’78) was all set for a career in law but got sidetracked by opportunity.
As the first female president of the NYIT Law Club, vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the Women’s Association, student representative to the Board of Trustees, and recipient of numerous student awards, Davila was on her way to the law school of her choice.
Her mentors included Marcia Singer, associate dean for campus life at NYIT-Old Westbury, and Professor Adele Deerson in the School of Management. “Marcia and Adele played an integral role in my life as an NYIT student,” says Davila. “Marcia had a way of getting you involved in various activities and organizations. It was easy for her to say, ‘My friend, can you do this for me?’ And Adele gave me the encouragement to become the Law Club’s first female president. I’m glad we have all remained friends to this day.”
Enter Merrill Lynch, looking for candidates in the financial industry shortly after Davila earned her degree. “I was asked to submit my resume, and based on my experience and extracurricular activities at NYIT, I was hired on the spot,” she says.
Several promotions later, Davila is still with Merrill Lynch, serving as first vice president, investments, of Global Wealth Management. She specializes in financial risk management for high net worth individuals and nonprofit organizations, including financial planning, wealth management, estate trust planning, and strategic philanthropic giving, with an emphasis on capital preservation and growth strategies that are designed to mitigate risk.
Davila spends most of her days on the phone or face-to-face with clients as she develops investment policies, creates business models, and identifies trends.
“I don’t think of it as being in a man’s world,” says Davila. “I’m just as good as they are—if not better. And I love what I do.”
She credits NYIT with offering a stellar education and providing her with the confidence to succeed at whatever career path she chose. “You could see they were invested in human capital, which really means that they wanted to provide the best education possible,” says Davila.
Throughout her 31-year career, she has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including an honorary degree from NYIT and being named one of the most “Influential Women in Business” by the Women’s Leadership Exchange. Invested in the Most Venerable Order of St. John, she also holds the distinguished title of “Dame Linda,” an honor bestowed upon her by the Queen of England in 2004.
In 1989, Davila joined the NYIT Board of Trustees, became vice chair in 1999, and today holds the distinction of being the university’s first female chair, a role she assumed in 2004. In this capacity, Davila leads NYIT in developing profitable global strategic alliances that attract top students and faculty.
She frequently travels to the university’s global campuses to participate in student and alumni events. Along with President Edward Guiliano, Davila has been an invited participant in the United Arab Emirates’ Festival of Thinkers international conference, which brings together Nobel laureates, academics, business leaders, government officials, and other global thinkers to address the world’s greatest challenges.
When she’s not in her New York City office or traveling across the globe to conduct business, the NYIT graduate enjoys relaxing in the Mediterranean islands, Europe, or the Middle East as well as listening to the works of Antonio Vivaldi.
But her proudest moment took place on May 23, 2010. At NYIT’s 49th annual commencement, her daughter, Caitlin (B.S. ’10), donned her graduation robe and earned her bachelor’s degree in international business.
“She is determined to surpass my degree of professional success and accomplishments,” says Davila. “And I will be there to support her all the way.”