Patty Driscoll Servaes received her B.A. in economics from the University of Dallas in 1986, a M.S. in accounting from Northeastern University in 1987 and an M.B.A. from Northeastern in 1999. She started her career at Price Waterhouse in Boston and began implementing financial systems and working on mergers and acquisitions at the Boston Globe. She joined the New York Times to redesign their financial infrastructure in 1995. Patty used her financial systems experience, as well as her love of seniors and closing deals, to create her companies focused on veteran benefits.
Q: As a student, what was your favorite part about UD?
My favorite thing about UD was the common Core and the Rome experience, for many reasons — the fun, obviously, but because it meant you had something in common with every UD student, no matter what year they attended. You can meet a UD grad who attended 20 years before or after you and it’s like you’ve known each other for years. In the long run, that helped me to realize that each of us has something in common with everyone, not just other UD students. You just have to look for it.
Q: Could you tell us about Servaes Consulting Group, how it got started, and the work you do with veterans?
When [my husband] Minhaj, also class of ’86, and I had our bonus baby, Josie, at 41, I decided I wanted to do something where my business background could help seniors and I could work from home. I wasn’t sure what it was, so I purchased a home care franchise and gave myself a five-year goal of figuring out what my business model would be. Luckily for my goal, day one, before I even opened my doors, I learned of a VA benefit for wartime veterans and their surviving spouses who need care — it is a complicated financial benefit with arcane government rules and forms which can result in up to $2,120 per month to help those in need of home or facility care. Each case is unique and life-changing for the families we work with — you should hear the WWII stories Minhaj has collected from our clients!
Q: You were an accountant at Price Waterhouse, worked as a finance executive for The Boston Globe and New York Times, and now run your own business. How has your UD education benefited you throughout this exciting and successful career?
UD taught me how to think and talk to people. When I was hired by the Boston Globe in 1990, I had never used a computer. Price Waterhouse only had two portable computers in the Boston office. Because of my UD training, before I started my job at the Boston Globe I went and got a manual for the financial computer system they were using and, gasp, read it. I did not know that reading the manual was odd and so when they came to teach me the system on Monday morning, they assumed I was a genius — I also had no problem calling my sister and anyone else who could answer my questions when I got stuck — that’s UD all the way. When the Boston Globe was being purchased by the New York Times and the two C.F.O.s had a dinner alone, they invited me to keep the conversation going, because I have the UD gift of knowing we all have some common ground and I can tell a pretty good story. Without that dinner, I doubt I would have been asked to be the Globe executive on loan to the Times.
Q: What advice would you give to current students interested in one day running their own business?
Whenever you start a new hobby, job or experience, keep your eyes open because that’s where the business ideas are. Think about what you love doing and how you can bring a new twist, perspective or product to the table — and while working at a company with a 401k, maximize it so you can use those funds to start your own business later.
Students, are you interested in speaking with alumna Patty Driscoll Servaes or learning more about starting your own business? Contact UD Alumni Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.