Why Columbia Business School?
In my desire to pursue investing more seriously, I started to read more on the topic and discovered value investing. It seemed at once simplistic and logical, and I grew rather obsessive about learning more. Columbia Business School remains the preeminent institution for value investing — I can’t think of a better place to go if you're serious about it. That made CBS the obvious choice for me.
How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
In the past three or four months, I have listened to or spoken directly with Bob Bruce, Bill Ackman, David Einhorn, Henry Kravis, and Michael Price. These are some of the legendary value investors in the field, and they're on campus so frequently. They can give you creative advice and tell you what to do and what to avoid. I think you just have rare access.
What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role?
I’ve benefitted immensely from strategy courses with Bruce Greenwald, investing lectures by Tano Santos, bankruptcy and LBO courses with Michael Grad and Margaret Cannella, and many others. If I had to pick one, however, it would be Applied Value Investing with Tom Tryforos. The practical nature of the course made it incredibly beneficial, albeit quite demanding as well. He treated the entire class like investment professionals and encouraged us to engage in what should be the requisites of sound and well-deliberated investing. I took a lot of his recommendations to heart, and I expect the learnings from the course will stick with me throughout my investing career.
What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
While there are several strong contenders, I would rank the international seminars to Shanghai and Rio de Janiero as my favorite experiences. Being able to wed my love for travel and foreign cultures with the knowledge gained from studying the intricacies and challenges of foreign businesses left me with a broader perspective and greater appreciation for those parts of the world. The fact that all of this was undertaken with a group of friends, and combined with a sampling of different cuisines and visits to many of the world’s must-see sights, made it that much more enjoyable.
What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
I came into the program with a preordained plan to focus on value investing, which remained true throughout. However, I decided to stray beyond my comfort zone and took several courses on behavioral finance, entrepreneurship, personal leadership, and management. To my surprise, the non-quantitative courses had a remarkable impact on my mindset and personal development, as well as my approach to conflicts and resolutions. It’s refreshing that CBS provides such a well-balanced program, and I encourage all to exploit the myriad of options and resources to their utmost.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I consider it a real privilege, not due just to what I've gotten so far, but what I think will still remain available once I graduate. I've been surrounded by very highly regarded professors who have a deep passion for their subjects. I also now count as friends accomplished yet still very ambitious professionals in various industries. I have access to a very diverse student population, and I've met people with all sorts of ideas that grant a varied and often unconsidered perspective on different subjects. There's a very extensive network, and I think it will only continue to grow.
How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
It's been absolutely pivotal. Thus far, I've studied a plethora of businesses through case studies, company filings, and analyses of business plans. Learning about their keys to success, and the unique approach of the entrepreneur or the management team in each case, has been very elucidating. More important is that in a lot of these cases, professors encouraged us to focus on missed opportunities and potential pitfalls. Being at the helm of a young fund, these sorts of exercises have been most useful for me and have spurred a greater sense of confidence in my ability to maneuver through challenges in the coming years.
Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
I'm fortunate to be able to combine my fervent passion for investing with my ardent interest in the burgeoning landscapes of frontier markets, particularly Africa. While I cannot dismiss the significant impact luck has had on my journey thus far, I believe my opportunities to gain a thorough education have been just as meaningful. Ergo, I cannot think of a better way to arm the marginalized than with a similarly sound education. Looking ahead, I believe education will continue to be integral in raising standards of living and planting a ladder for the less privileged to emerge from the depths of abject poverty, and I hope to launch or support causes striving towards this goal. I also believe that the eradication of poverty in these frontier markets will be supported by efficient and transparent capital markets, and I hope that my involvement there will continue to foster the necessary steps towards meaningful progress.