Hopkins Alumnus Fellow Junta Nakai ’00 Talks Tech and Life Lessons

Junta Nakai ’00, a 2018–19 Alumnus Fellow, returned to campus on Monday, May 6th to share with students his journey from Hopkins into the worlds of finance, technology, artificial intelligence and entrepreneurship.

Clearly impressed by the pre-assembly energy of students as they poured onto the bleachers, Nakai expressed amazement that there was an assembly DJ.  “Wow, I wish we had that in my day!”  Things have changed.  During Nakai’s tenure at Hopkins, Ace of Base had the #1 hit “The Sign,” Netflix was mailing dvds and Amazon only sold books.

The theme of Nakai’s assembly presentation focused on the rapid pace of technological change and how to recognize and react to those changes.  In his own career, which has spanned from a traditional position as an equity trader at Goldman Sachs to a finance-tech startup Selerity and most recently as Industry Head of Financial Services at Databricks, Nakai learned he had to “adapt, re-set and re-invent.”  In response to the growing dominance of data and artificial intelligence, he took data science classes online and started networking in the technology field.  

Nakai invited three of his fellow students of the Class of 2000—Clifford Sosin, Adam Kaye and Ryan Walsh—to join him at the assembly.  Sosin and Kaye were able to stay on throughout the morning.  The three close friends visited Mr. Thornburgh’s Economics class and Mr. Gries' Computer Science class where they had wide-ranging conversations with students about A.I., investing in tech, managing data storage and security and the lessons learned through trial and error.  All three alums agreed they wished there had been an Economics course when they were at Hopkins.  “Hopkins is the safest space you’ll ever have in your life,” Nakai said, “Take chances now.” 

As a special nod to the Class of 2000, Hopkins’ DJ Alex Stroup ’19 played Ace of Base’s “The Sign” after Nakai dismissed the assembly with “off to class.”

Pictured at left, Class of 2000 Ryan Walsh, Adam Kaye, Junta Nakai, and Clifford Sosin.

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