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The Business School Faculty Spotlight Series: ROBERT SARNIE

DEPARTMENT(S): 
July 29, 2021

In one video, he’s rapping alongside Drake. In another subarctic survival simulation, he leads in with “I Will Survive” while standing in front of the WPI welcome sign before snapping his fingers to flash into skiing gear, then into a frigid arctic landscape.   

In others, he bops his head along with sock puppets playing guitars, bongos, and tambourines; dons Mickey Mouse ears in front of a green screen of the Magic Castle at Disney World; and sports baseball gear in front of Fenway’s Green Monster.

“That’s the uniqueness I bring,” says Robert Sarnie. “I’m just trying to make it over the top engaging.”

It might seem a nontraditional way to teach FinTech and risk management—but it works for the infectiously charismatic Sarnie. A 23-year veteran of Fidelity Investments who joined WPI in 2019, Sarnie is passionate about mentoring, teaching, and, most of all, making learning engaging and fun. To say anything less would be a dramatic understatement.

But it’s not just about entertaining, sometimes self-deprecating videos: The self-described professor of practice brings in regular guest speakers (virtually during COVID-19, of course), and has eschewed quizzes and tests in his courses in lieu of business cases and teamwork.

“You can get something good done by yourself, but you’re not going to get anything big done,” Sarnie says. “If you’re just big into understanding yourself, you can’t help your team.”

Sarnie is all about well-rounded risk culture thinking, while also pushing the importance and pervasiveness of FinTech. Right now, he notes, many people don’t even know what FinTech is—but ultimately, it’s everything.

He says of his instruction style: “It’s about connecting the why, making it inter-discipline. Why is this important? Who’s going to ask questions? Who’s not going to understand? It’s all about framing it and focusing on finance leadership.”

The way he puts it, STEM is hard—put people are harder. “That’s more than half the equation of getting anything done,” he says.

Ultimately, “it’s just about helping people where they want to go,” Sarnie adds. “No matter what age people are, I learn from everybody, I try to help everybody.”

On yeah, and you really have to see him dance in that Drake parody video.


Interests:

  • Disney World—he’s been 36 times!
  • Sports – He has been to the Red Sox World Series, six Patriots Super Bowls (yes, he saw Brady play), and Celtics Championships.
     

Mentoring:

He advises three clubs at WPI: Investing, real estate and development, and Enactus.
 

Involvements:

  • WPI FinTech Collaborative
  • Wall Street-FinTech Project Center

Learn more about Robert Sarnie.


About The Business School at WPI

As the business school of a premier technological university, The Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into all of its programs.

Consistent with WPI’s mission of theory and practice, The Business School emphasizes a project-based approach to learning and doing that considers the ethical and social context of everything we do. Our students take advantage of the university’s strong relationships with technology-intensive organizations around the world.

Graduates of WPI’s Business School are prepared to lead at the intersection of technology and business, applying entrepreneurial thinking and harnessing the power of technology and teamwork to solve complex human problems.

Learn more about The Business School.