The path that J.C. Waller III took to his present position with Icon Advisers is not the typical one. He didn’t come to Icon straight out of some prestigious MBA program or after having earned his stripes with a wirehouse. His previous employer was the U.S. Army, in which he served for three and a half years as a Ranger and then as a Chinese/Mandarin linguist.

As his military service was drawing to a close, Waller sent his resum? to investment firms in the Denver area. One of those landed on the desk of Dr. Craig Callahan, Icon’s founder and president, who hired Waller as a research analyst in 2000. “He doesn’t like to hire people with a large amount of industry experience because we run a quantitative system that is non-emotional, systematic, and disciplined,” says Waller. “I think what really caught his attention was that my background showed I had the discipline to do some of the training that I’ve done and I had a clean slate, not a lot of preconceived notions and grand ideas about how things should be.”

As valuable as that discipline may be in his post-Army career, there’s more to Waller’s background. He has a B.S. in business administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and an international MBA from the University of Denver, where he’s pursuing a Master of Finance degree.