Alum-to-Scholar Mentoring Program: Phil Berney ’86 & Jack Dinges ’21

Blog | April 1, 2020
Head shots of Phil Berney ’86 and Jack Dinges ’21
Phil Berney ’86 and Jack Dinges ’21

Jack Dinges, a junior from Alpharetta, Georgia, will head to New York City this summer for an internship at Bank of America in the investment banking division.

Although this will be Jack’s first time living and working in “The Big Apple,” he won’t start off alone. That’s because he has a mentor through the Morehead-Cain Mentoring Program, which the Foundation launched this past fall. The program pairs rising juniors and seniors with Morehead-Cain Alumni based on shared values and interests for a twelve-month mentorship.

Jack’s mentor, Phil Berney ’86, is the co-chief executive officer for Kelso & Company, a private equity investment firm located on Manhattan’s Park Avenue. Phil is also a vice chair of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund Board.

Jack, who hopes to pursue a career in the private equity industry following his graduation next spring, says that his conversations with Phil have helped shape his professional goals. He describes the personal relationship that the two have as an additional benefit of the pilot program.

“It’s always been clear that our network is strong, but it’s nice to have a real, tangible connection that goes beyond just reaching out to an alum,” says Jack, a double major in mathematics and economics at Carolina with a business administration minor.

His campus involvements include serving as an associate for the UNC Kenan-Flagler Private Equity Fund, as co-head of investment banking for the UNC Finance Society, and as vice president of the Portfolio Management Team at the business school.

Jack says being paired with someone whose career aligns so closely with his own aspirations has be­en an invaluable asset and resource.

“Not only has Phil provided me a valuable picture of the industry landscape and where I might be a good fit, but he’s given me guidance on skills I should build to set myself up for success,” he says.

Phil, who received his undergraduate degree in business administration from Carolina before spending his entire career in finance, says that sharing his more seasoned perspective has made him reflect on his own experiences as a college student.

“This program has made me think, ‘If I’d had someone to provide this kind of professional mentorship in my life as an undergrad, how might that have changed my path?’” says the co-CEO, who directs investment funds for EACOM Timber Corporation and Eagle Foods at Kelso. “Our hope is that the program can go at least one or two layers deeper in terms of person-to-person engagement so that we can truly understand the scholar’s values, concerns, and priorities.”

For someone who is well-grounded and driven, mentoring often focuses on exploring interests to make sure a career path aligns with beliefs and values as well as navigating intra-industry networking structures, according to Phil.

“My role is really to harness Jack’s energy­ to make him even more effective, and he’s a rock star, so it’s easy to get excited about that.”