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UNF Foundation, Inc.

The Energy Authority funds trading room makeover

Mike Zaccardi holds the distinction of participating twice — at the bachelor’s and master’s levels — in the Osprey Financial Group, a student-managed investment program within the Coggin College of Business. The real-world experience Zaccardi, ’11, ’16, gained made him a great hire for The Energy Authority, or TEA, whose core services are energy trading and risk management.

students pointing at a monitor hanging on the wallHe was not alone. TEA has hired 11 OFG students and given others internships. As further support of the program, TEA recently donated $100,000 over five years to upgrade UNF’s trading room, named The Energy Authority Center for Portfolio Management.

Zaccardi credits the program with providing students practice “writing and speaking finance,” which now helps him communicate his financial ideas in the workplace. The program also provided networking opportunities with portfolio managers and analysts. “I honestly have a hard time envisioning my professional career had I not had that experience,” he said.

According to Dr. Reinhold Lamb, the program’s designer, the yearlong course is structured to function as a real-world investment company. Students manage real money — initially $500,000 donated by Jody and Layton Smith in 2001 — for a real client — the UNF Foundation. Lamb, as the Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Accounting and Finance, oversees OFG, which over the years has grown the fund to $1.1 million.

Susan Boggs, vice president of administration and chief people officer at TEA, is also an MBA grad from UNF. She believes that Lamb and other finance faculty do a great job identifying the right students for the program. “The competencies they are looking for when they interview for the OFG group are very similar to what we’re looking for as well,” Boggs said. 

TEA’s donation also enhances the strong community partnership the company has with UNF, according to its CEO Joanie Teofilo. “Our partnership produces significant mutual value as we invest in the future of these students and together groom them into leaders in the industry,” Teofilo said. The company also has contributed to the Financial Investment Society at UNF and frequently sends its experts to campus to share their knowledge in the classroom.

Lamb explained that the University plans to use the generous donation to modernize the trading room’s technology, databases and other resources, which are now nearly 15 years old. “With The Energy Authority gift we will have access to the latest resources,” Lamb said. “Everything our students do in the trading room is what the pros do, so the upgrades will help make our students that much more marketable when they graduate.”