In celebration and support of Pride Month, Morehouse College is sharing its inaugural “Profiles of Pride” series, which will highlight the life, experience, and successes of a selection of the College’s own students, alumni, faculty, and staff who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. These people are a few of many who embody the Morehouse mission of leading lives of leadership and service with disciplined minds.
George Wells is the chief financial officer of quip, the oral care startup, and founder of Wells Group of New York, a 16- person management consulting firm based in New York City that advises high growth businesses & early stage startups on finance, accounting, & strategy. Mr. Wells previously served as interim CFO/COO of Lehmann Maupin, one of the top ten art galleries in the world, and CFO of Zola, the fastest growing wedding registry and wedding company in the country. Mr. Wells began his career in 1999 as a financial analyst in Morgan Stanley’s mergers & acquisitions group and held various roles in the finance world including as a private equity analyst in Goldman Sachs’ PIA group and as an associate in Houlihan Lokey’s Financial Restructuring Group.
Mr. Wells serves on the Out in Tech board, an organization committed to promoting diversity in the tech and startup community, and has pledged a $1 million dollar art donation to Morehouse College. Mr. Wells is an avid art collector who serves on the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Artists Council. Born in Newport, Rhode Island and raised between Rhode Island and St. Augustine, Florida, Mr. Wells received his bachelor’s degree in Finance & Accounting from Morehouse College in 2000 and his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2006. He and his husband, Manfred, maintain residences in New York, Los Angeles and Tirol, Austria.
What does "Pride" mean to you?:
Pride to me is the confidence and strength to pursue your dreams without fear that part of your identity will get in the way. I grew up in a traditional household and followed a very trodden path when it came to education and career. With my father’s direction, I decided to attend Morehouse College and study finance and accounting, putting myself on a clear path to a career on Wall Street.
I wasn’t out during my time at Morehouse, nor was I while working in investment banking for eight years due to fear that it could impact my trajectory. I definitely felt like part of my identity was suppressed - at Morehouse, in the investment banking world, and in my fathers’ eyes - as I kept this closely personal secret to myself. It was not until I brought my full self to work that my career truly started to flourish. Being true to myself enabled authenticity to show through and established trust in leading teams to very aggressive outcomes, which paved the way to success, in my opinion. While I sometimes felt different as a young man working in finance, my time in business school in Los Angeles at Stanford really cemented my hope, strength, and pride in who I was in every part of my life.
Pride is my coming to terms with my identity at that time and unabashedly accepting and projecting it to pursue my business goals. It was thanks to this environment in LA and at Stanford that I was able to even begin to have dreams about breaking away from the well-trodden path and starting my own company as a gay man. Now, I work as a tech CFO with my own boutique consulting firm in New York, something I never could have accomplished without confidence, strength, and ultimately pride in self.
What advice would you give your younger self?:
Work hard, be true to yourself, and it’s okay to fall but pick yourself up and learn from it. Realize that the people you surround yourself with will have just as great an influence on your success as yourself. This means finding mentors who support and guide you and underlings who push you and your goals forward. Find those people and lean into them.
What are the ideal attributes of an Ally?:
There are commonalities in the human condition that extend beyond identity politics. It is important to look beyond both race and sexual orientation for similarities as it relates to goals and the pursuit of excellence. Listen, educate yourself, and learn as you go. Support your LGBTQ+ friends and family in their ventures and successes. By amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and putting us into positions of power and influence, we will be able to bridge inequalities in the workplace and thrive together. In addition, allies do not have to come from only gay voices, in fact most of the mentors that have helped propel my business endeavors have been neither black nor gay.
My matriculation at Morehouse College very much made me the man that I am today. The amount of self-confidence instilled and honed during my undergraduate studies fuels my everyday life from both a personal and professional standpoint.
Over the heads of her students, Morehouse holds a crown that she challenges them to grow tall enough to wear.Howard Thurman, '23