Landing your first job after college isn’t all fun and games – unless you’re Stony Brook alumnus Bob Feld. During his first job interview at Datasaab Systems, a Manhattan software firm, the hiring manager told Bob point blank that he intended to hire only someone with work experience. Bob worried that his first career break was slipping through his fingers.
That is, until he spotted an “Instant Insanity” puzzle- a popular precursor to the equally mind-bending Rubik’s Cube – on the manager’s desk
Lucky for Bob, during a Stony Brook applied math classes, “One of the few I actually attended,” he joked, the professor (Dr. Tucker) demonstrated how to solve Instant Insanity using graph theory.
“So I asked the manager, ‘If I can solve this puzzle using graph theory, would you hire me?'” The manager agreed and after Bob explained the solution, the manager made good on the deal and Bob landed his first programming job.
This daring attitude, combined with the skills Bob developed at Stony Brook (“It’s where I learned to think.”), his interest in computer science, and a strong work ethic, have served him well throughout his career.
Bob left Datasaab Systems in 1982 and, with his wife Ivy Rosenberg, founded a consulting company, REF Computer Corporation, in New City, New York.
Nowadays, REF Computer is a leading provider of financial software to Fortune 1000 clients such as Citibank, Vanguard, Merrill Lynch, and dozens of others.
The firm’s services and software help clients gain greater control over data and reduce the time for data integration, conversion, and testing while meeting today’s stringent compliance laws.
Bob attributes much of his firm’s success to REF’s more than 100 employees, including Stony Brook alums Lawrence Kamenetsky (’80), Linda Pollack (’80), and Rob Lattanzio (’81).
REF Computer actively seeks out Stony Brook graduates with math or computer science degrees, because Bob has had first-hand experience with, and respects, the rigors of these Stony Brook signature programs. “When I bring on Stony Brook alums,” he said, “they are always successful.”