Alumni in 10
Charles Ragauss, '09
Title/Employer: Director of Product Management at Exponential ETFs
Degree Earned/Emphasis Area: Bachelor's in Finance and International Business with a minor in French
1. What has your journey been since graduation?
Right after graduation, I was fortunate enough to land a banking job in the midst of one of the most existential crises in modern finance – The Great Recession. That job, and those that followed landed me both in Ohio and Michigan. During this adventure, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest people, earn the coveted Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, and ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. This has ultimately led me to join a start-up asset management firm, Exponential ETFs, which I have helped build from the ground up. I’m both proud of my overall professional journey and my contributions to build the first exchange-traded fund (ETF) issuer in the entire state of Michigan.
2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?
Grand Valley provided me a high-quality and accessible education. In a world of increasing choices and growing costs, this cannot be stressed enough. Integral to that education was also my preparation for the workforce. I’ve interviewed potential job candidates from many schools, and it reinforces my belief that Grand Valley prepared me, and other students, better than other institutions.
3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?
I have such fond memories of my involvement in the student investment club, Investment Portfolio Organization (IPO). From our regular meetings in Devos Center to our annual trips to the Chicago Fed, that was such a great organization.
4. What three words describe your experience at Grand
Prepare. Strive. Exceed.
5. How, and why, have you stayed involved with Grand Valley
I try to go to the different alumni events where I’m living, whether that’s GVSU football games in Ohio or attending the GVSU Tiger’s night. Doing this is a great way to stay connected with friends and the GVSU community.
6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?
As I previously mentioned, Grand Valley provided a high-quality education at a discount relative to its peers, which afforded me a solid foundation in which to begin my professional life. What I have achieved since graduation builds upon this foundation.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
To keep it brief, I would say cycling, travel, playing the piano, and spending time with friends and family.
8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?
I could go a few different ways with this, but I’ll settle on the Stockdale Paradox. It may sound a little dramatic, but I’ve found it can be applied to almost anything: “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. At the same time, you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
9. What motivates you?
I am motivated to be the best “Me” that I can be. While life can get in the way, I am driven to continue to learn, explore, grow, and contribute. Those driving forces can apply to a personal, professional, and societal context.
10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?
I recently re-read Good to Great by Jim Collins. While ultimately focused on companies, it lends itself to application in our own lives for framing and achieving our own success. This is always the first book I recommend someone to read.