Alumnae Gabrielle Clay, Nesmira Muratovic among Business Journal’s 30 under 30 honorees

by | Jul 15, 2019

Clay, who earned a degree in mathematics in 2012, is a senior project accountant at HOK. Muratovic, BSBA 2013, is a retail risk & supervision oversight manager at TD Ameritrade.

UMSL graduates Gabrielle Clay (at left) and Nesmira Muratovic were among this year’s St. Louis Business Journal 30 under 30 honorees. Clay is a senior project accountant at HOK. Muratovic is a retail risk & supervision oversight manager at TD Ameritrade. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Nesmira Muratovic has enjoyed the attention that’s come her way the past month since the St. Louis Business Journal first unveiled its 2019 list of 30 under 30 honorees.

Muratovic, a 2013 graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Business Administration, was still getting over the surprise of finding out she was being nominated when the list was announced with her on it, along with 2012 UMSL graduate Gabrielle Clay on June 6.

“It’s been really cool,” said Muratovic, now a retail risk & supervision oversight manager at TD Ameritrade. “At first it was a little strange because it made me realize that I guess I’m old enough to work in this industry, in finance.”

As meaningful as the honor and all that comes with it – a photo shoot, Q&A in the Business Journal and award reception last Thursday at the Stiefel Theatre in downtown St. Louis – has been for Muratovic, it might be even more meaningful for her parents.

They fled Bosnia more than two decades ago with Muratovic and her two siblings amid ethnic violence and restarted their lives almost from scratch in St. Louis.

“My family moved here with absolutely nothing,” Muratovic said. “They left everything they knew and literally came here with a backpack and no money. It shows them that it was worth it – that the last 20-whatever years, the struggles that they went through, the multiple jobs they worked, all the stuff that they did to survive paid off. They were both very emotional and very happy.”

Because her family had spent so much time in survival mode, Muratovic hadn’t always gotten to fully enjoy all her previous accomplishments – graduating from Bayless High School, attending college or landing her first finance job at Scottrade.

Muratovic got in the door there before she even finished her BSBA with an internship while a student in the Pierre Laclede Honors College.

She began working at Scottrade after earning her degree and worked her way up in the compliance department. When TD Ameritrade purchased Scottrade, Muratovic, after initially looking elsewhere, decided to transition along with many of her familiar colleagues.

“It’s different because Scottrade was a private company,” Muratovic said. “It was a lot smaller, and TD Ameritrade is publicly traded and three to four times the size in clients and in assets. The decisions are different, but TD Ameritrade kept a lot of Scottrade people in two offices here, so the culture is still there.”

Clay, who grew up in Creve Coeur, Missouri, has experienced her own career shifts since she finished her degree in mathematics at UMSL.

Her original plan had been to get into actuarial science – something the university at the time did not yet have a degree program in – but Clay felt a pull instead toward accounting after taking courses as an undergraduate.

“I always loved numbers,” Clay said. “After a few months of starting my first accounting job, I knew that I loved accounting and that was the route I wanted to take. That was how it got started.”

She spent a year and a half at a public accounting firm, Davis Associates in Florissant, Missouri. Then she moved to Cushman & Wakefield, working as a corporate accountant in the commercial real estate company’s St. Louis office.

After another year and a half, she transitioned again to HOK, the worldwide design, architecture, engineering and urban planning firm, and now works as a senior project accountant.

“I think the best part of my job is that, especially in St. Louis, I get to see projects from start to finish, and I get to drive by them as they are being built,” Clay said. “It’s wonderful to think, ‘Oh, I’ve been working on that project for the last year or two years or three years.’ Just being a part of something in your hometown, that’s one of the best things I like about my job.”

Like Muratovic, Clay is grateful for the education she received at UMSL, which helped set her up for success.

“I just thought it was always a great school,” Clay said. “My sister-in-law graduated from UMSL as well, and she’s a pediatrician now. She gave me a really good recommendation before I started the school. She loved it while she was there and so did I.

“I still think it was a great choice. I had really good teachers that wanted to see you succeed, and I used a lot of their office hours.”

Her nomination for 30 under 30 was unexpected, and she’s been a little overwhelmed by all the emails, cards, flowers and even gift cards she’s received over the past month, including Thursday’s reception.

“I wasn’t expecting all of the attention,” Clay said, “but I’m grateful.”

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik