|16 Jun 2021
A 2003 Wheeler graduate, Nick Wall now works as Managing Director and COO at American Pacific Group in San Francisco, a position that he says definitely has ties to his time Wheeler. Read on to see why his most influential experience at Wheeler was taking a ceramics class and what advice he has for those still at Wheeler.
Tell us a little about yourself, when did you graduate? Where do you live?
I am a Managing Director and the Chief Operating Officer at American Pacific Group, a San Francisco Bay Area-based private equity firm. I joined Founder and Managing Partner Fraser Preston (also a Rhode Islander) as his first hire when we started the firm in August 2019. I graduated from Wheeler in 2003 and currently live in Sausalito, California -- just over the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco.
Describe your current job and how you got there.
I run the day-to-day operations of a private equity firm outside of the investments, including managing our relationships with investors. I was first introduced to Fraser through Haley Fox Billipp, a friend a fellow Wheeler 2003 classmate. I got to know Fraser's grandmother because of Haley and her mom which led me to Fraser 15+ years ago. How I got here definitely ties back to Wheeler!
What is your favorite memory from your time at Wheeler?
I loved languages at Wheeler and took French grades 7-12 and Spanish grades 9-12. I received the Edith Erlenmeyer Language Award my senior year for excellence in foreign language. I knew Edie Erlenmeyer and having Ken Clauser and Elaine Reed recognize me this way was an awesome culmination in what I loved to study most when at Wheeler.
What are one or two of your proudest professional or personal accomplishments?
I feel very fortunate and grateful that the timing and pace for our inaugural fundraise were successful. It is sometimes better to be lucky than good!
What would you consider the most important thing you learned at Wheeler?
Appreciation for diversity of ideas, thoughts, backgrounds, and perspectives. More people at the table with different and informed views make for a better dialogue and a better decision.
What person, activity, or experience most influenced you while at Wheeler? How?
Ceramics. People who know me reading this will laugh since I am not artistic whatsoever. I took a ceramics class to meet a visual arts requirement and actually really liked it. I then convinced Cali Almy do to an 'advanced' ceramics class with me senior year. I was terrible at it but what it reinforced was that it's important to try new things and fail and get back up and try it again...you never know what you might like.
Describe Wheeler in 3 words.
Community. Excellence. Rigor.
What advice would you give those currently at Wheeler?
The friendships you form today will last a lifetime - recognize that now.
Any other comments / thoughts for your fellow alum / current Wheeler students?
The last year has taught me to be more appreciative. Take a step back when things seem hard or stressful and take a deep breath and be grateful for what you have, who you are, and that Wheeler is part of that.