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Westchester Alum Flies High in Business Career (read more)

Up for a Challenge

Westchester alum flies high in business career


            John Merritt, Saint Joseph High School Class of ’94, thrives on new challenges. 


            After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1998 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Merritt completed a master’s of business administration in 2003 at the Keller Graduate School of Management.  


            “John always had a lot of energy,” said Tony Mennella, Merritt’s business teacher at St. Joes. “He was very analytic and always liked new projects.”


            After nine years as a research analyst at Ellwood Associates, an investment consulting firm in Chicago, Merritt accepted the offer of director of marketing and product development for Driehaus Capital Management LLC, also in Chicago.


            “When I have a sense I am no longer being challenged, I welcome change,” Merritt said.


Five years later, he became an investment strategist at Boston-based Fidelity Investments, working remotely from Chicago and serving clients throughout the Midwest.


            As Fidelity’s business grew and gained clients farther west, Merritt in 2018 accepted an offer to transfer to Colorado, where he now resides approximately 15 miles north of Denver, while maintaining a residence in the Old Town area of Chicago.


            “It’s rewarding to think that many of the features I helped to plan and implement are assisting participants achieve their retirement goals and setting them up for success as they make their way through their careers. I truly feel that I make a difference, and I absolutely love my job and Denver, even though I still call Chicago my home.


            “My career also allows me to explore our vast country and has led me to nearly every state in the union (just five more to go), and while we all weather the current pandemic, I relish the opportunity to once again travel the country doing what I love.” 


            Merritt’s lifelong love of travel led him to earn a private pilot’s license in 2000. That passion deepened in 2016, when he purchased a small, four-seat Cirrus SR20 aircraft, which he said is “ideal for ferrying myself between the Denver and Chicago areas, especially during the pandemic.”


            Merritt credits SJHS for his business ascent and for instilling and strengthening his wanderlust.


           “I can honestly say I do not think I would be where I am today without St. Joseph High School. I seemed to hit my academic stride in high school after an unimpressive academic career leading up to that point. I equate that success to many of the great teachers and the family-like environment St. Joes offered.


           “A perfect example of that is someone like Brother Leo Jones. With his recent passing, it brought back memories of touring all of England with Brother Leo and Mr. Q (then-math teacher Tony Quattrochi, now director of alumni relations and special events). As we toured all around the country, I was amazed at the connections Brother Leo had developed as we were hosted by alumni and friends whose relationships Brother Leo had fostered over years of educating. People opened up their homes to us as if we were family. It was a life-altering journey.”


           John, congratulations on your success, and best wishes for getting to those five states before long!