Neil V. DeSena, of Rumson, passed away on Saturday, February 11. He was 52 years young. Neil was managing partner of SenaHill Partners, the merchant bank he co-founded in 2013, after an impressive career spanning three decades. During these three decades, Neil helped drive the electronification of Wall Street and what is now called fintech. His vision, spirit and larger-than-life persona came with him to work every day where he influenced a whole generation of professionals around him. His kindness and care ignited the successful careers of many others on the path he blazed. Not only did he create a legacy in the businesses he built, but he also left a massive family that is now carrying forward his mantra. Not many people had the magic he did to get work done and build bonds that lasted well after he had left the room.
He started his career in the back-office at Quick & Reilly Clearing in 1985. He later became a partner at the venerable Spear, Leads and Kellogg (SLK) where he pioneered the REDI electronic trading division as its first employee in 1992. After it was acquired by Goldman Sachs, he became a managing director and global head of REDI Products from 2000 to 2006. This business was generating nearly a billion dollars of revenue a year for the firm. He took an archaic business and leveraged technology to bring it into the future. He pushed ideas and people in a way that was unique and built the best franchise on Wall Street that remains unparalleled.
The vision he had for SenaHill is a testament to who Neil was – an out-of-the-box thinker and leader. He recognized that in a business focused on building technology, it was the people who made all the difference. With that underpinning, he hatched SenaHill. His vision is now a reality, and he will be sorely missed by the team and partners he leaves behind. We hope he looks down proudly as the firm carries on bearing his family name, building upon the seeds he planted. Neil leaves a leadership void on the Boards of Symbiont, Vessel Interactive, and Zipz, as well as a portfolio of twenty exciting emerging businesses that he helped accumulate.
Neil embraced life with integrity, kindness, generosity and honesty. Neil believed you are born and will die with one thing and one thing only and that is your name. If you screw it up and tarnish it, you will never get it back. His family meant everything to him; he was a loving, giving, caring, selfless, protective, supportive and dedicated husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend.
For those who were lucky enough to have known Neil, he touched the lives of everyone around him. He was the most loyal, passionate and warm person you would ever know. He left this earth with a perfect untarnished name. He will be missed dearly by all of his family and friends.
Neil was the most devoted husband of Carolyn C. DeSena, the loving father to his three children, Madeleine, Neil Anthony and Jack and the best friends to his dogs, Teddy and Bandhu. He was cherished by a brother Robert and his wife Tracy Bennett, a sister Julie and her husband Robert Kochanski and many nieces, nephews, cousins and his in-laws. Neil was predeceased by his parents, Neil A. DeSena and Marie Ceglio DeSena from Bayonne.
Visitation will be Friday, February 17 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St., Red Bank. A mass will be offered on Saturday, February 18 at 10 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 979 Avenue C, Bayonne. In honor of Neil and his love of gardening, please consider a donation to the Neil & Carolyn DeSena Foundation where monies will be used to build new community gardens that will grow and blossom in memory of Neil. Please send donations to SenaHill Partners Attn: Joe DiMaio at 113 East River Road, Suite A1, Rumson NJ 07760. If you prefer to send flowers, natural wild flowers were Neil’s favorite.
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