Alumni Profile: Colleen (O’Donnell) Thorburn ’97

Alumni Profile: Colleen (O’Donnell) Thorburn ’97

The Thorburn Family Colleen 97, Brennan, Harrison, and Rob 97.

The Thorburn Family (l-r): Colleen ’97, Brennan, Harrison, and Rob ’97.

From English Major to Equity Sales.

Fairfield’s culture and investment in its students taught me that being kind, having a strong work ethic, and giving back to the community are equally — if not more — important than my degree.

— Colleen Thorburn '97

While an undergraduate student at Fairfield, Colleen (O’Donnell) Thorburn ’97, now head of international equity sales at Deutsche Bank (DB), had intentions of going on to law school. That changed quickly when, as a senior, she witnessed friends accepting jobs on Wall Street. “I was drawn to the idea of a couple of years of hands-on client-facing work experience where I could make an immediate impact. With the help of the Career Center, I narrowed down my search to New York-based investment banks and accepted a position as a desk assistant on the institutional European equity sales desk at NatWest.”

She quickly “fell in love” with dealing with international markets and “thrived in a fast-paced environment where I continued to learn something new each day,” she said. “While I did not end up attending law school, I have never looked back on my decision to go to Wall Street and have thoroughly enjoyed every step of the way that got me to my current role.”

Thorburn has spent the bulk of her 25-year career at Deutsche Bank, based in New York City. Her responsibilities include selling and monetizing DB’s international equity, thematic and macro research product, and capital markets to U.S.-based institutional investor clients (hedge funds, asset managers, etc). In addition to being a salesperson, she is “highly focused” on the bank’s diversity efforts, co-leads a recruiting committee for DB’s Women on Wall Street organization, and sits on the DB Americas ESG (environmental, social, governance) Council.

Thorburn calls herself a “people person.” “I absolutely love engaging and building relationships with my clients, who are incredibly smart, challenge-seeking, and ambitious individuals,” she said. “Some of my deepest client relationships are with those that I have known for well over a decade, and it has been exciting to grow with them into more senior roles over the years. I also love utilizing my entrepreneurial spirit to drive revenue growth in my business.”

Fairfield University, Thorburn said, taught her to be a person for others, which has allowed her to put the needs of her clients first, and to be a strong teammate with colleagues as a leader, a mentor, and a peer. “I learned that integrity, respect, and the ability to listen to critical factors will help me achieve personal and professional success. Fairfield’s culture and investment in its students taught me that being kind, having a strong work ethic, and giving back to the community are equally — if not more — important than my degree. I hold myself to a very high standard that Fairfield, along with my parents, helped instill in me.”

Thorburn majored in English and minored in economics — not the kind of education one would think might lead a student directly to Wall Street. But Thorburn said her Fairfield experience has helped her immensely at Deutsche Bank. “Being an English major helped me develop my communication skills. As a stockbroker, I benefited from the ability to quickly read a detailed research report and then summarize it clearly and persuasively to a client with a limited amount of bandwidth. My English degree allowed me to feel confident in my reading and comprehension skills, and allowed me to tackle complex information about the markets, economy, and geopolitics.”

To further her education after high school, Thorburn wanted a college with a strong Jesuit liberal arts education. When she first visited the Fairfield campus, she knew she had the right place. “I felt safe, at home, and excited to embark on my college career on campus and in Fairfield. I loved the proximity to the beach, to New York City, and to my hometown in New Jersey.”

Thorburn has “too many fond memories” of Fairfield to list. “The most special things about Fairfield were the friendships I made during my four years there. The Fairfield network is like no other and when I see friends or meet fellow alumni from Fairfield, we have an instant connection and so many wonderful, shared experiences.”

Thorburn met her husband, Rob (also a member of the Class of ’97), at Fairfield. They have two sons: Harrison (14) and Brennan (12), and enjoy traveling as a family and spending time at the New Jersey shore, when not on the sidelines of the boys’ sporting events. The family lives in Westfield, New Jersey.

Other Articles in the Spring 2023 Issue

Letter from the President

Read the Article

Online Learning, Fairfield Style

Read the Article

Grand Design

Read the Article


Read the Article

Play Ball

Read the Article

In Deep Waters

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Meaghan Mooney '05

Read the Article

Donor Profile: Robert Dawe '72, MD, Honors Wife Jean Dawe Through Gift to the Egan School

Read the Article

Search Results