Increasing Women’s Numbers in Investment Management

The Parker Center hosts its seventh annual Women in Investing Conference

by Irene Kim

Increasing Women’s Numbers in Investment Managementinline-block

This past November, MBAs from 10 top business schools and investment professionals from 15 major investment firms gathered at the Parker Center for Investment Research for the seventh annual MBA Women in Investing (WIN) Conference. Providing a forum for students to network and learn about investment management, the conference attracted more than 130 attendees.

Women are significantly underrepresented in investment management and constitute less than 10 percent of U.S. fund managers, says Lakshmi Bhojraj, conference founder and Parker Center’s Breazzano Family Executive Director. “That underrepresentation was the incentive for starting the conference,” she adds. “We help with growing the talent pipeline and creating greater awareness of the field.”

WIN Conference

Lakshmi Bhojraj welcomes conference participants.

Increasing the number of female investment managers is an important issue, one that Bhojraj feels is gaining awareness in the media and the general public. “The diversity of perspective in money management is important to the process as well as the outcome,” she adds.

WIN attendance has grown steadily over the years. “The numbers of women going into the industry haven’t improved in leaps and bounds, but we are starting to move the needle,” says Bhojraj. “Something that’s very gratifying is that we’re seeing several of the women that participated as students coming back as representatives of sponsoring firms.”

Conference highlights included addresses from Seth Klarman ‘79, President and CEO of The Baupost Group, and Christine Thompson, CIO of the Bond Group at Fidelity Investments; panel discussions on career options, generating investment ideas, researching companies, and investment strategies; a stock-pitch showcase; and speed networking sessions with investment professionals.

WIN Conference

WIN 2016 Dinner Keynote: Fireside Chat with Seth Klarman ‘79, President and CEO, The Baupost Group, and Jane Mendillo, Former CEO of Harvard Management Company.

The conference kicked off with an opening keynote address by Klarman who was interviewed by Jane Mendillo, former CEO of the Harvard Management Company. Klarman, author of Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor, shared a number of insights with listeners about investing, organizational culture, and balancing one’s work and personal lives.

On investing: Baupost has been successful for more than three decades, Klarman said, in part due to its emphasis on a long-term investment horizon and serving clients who believe in its investment philosophy. In his view, markets have always been driven by human emotion – greed, fear, in particular; therefore, it’s imperative to distinguish between stock price fluctuations and underlying business reality. Klarman also shared that successful investing requires a little bit of arrogance (having the confidence that you know more than a lot of very smart people) balanced with a lot of humility (knowing that you could be wrong).

On culture: Klarman, who values collaboration and mutual respect, said that he has spent considerable time building and nurturing those behaviors in his firm – even to the extent of chasing down employees who fail to greet the receptionist in the morning.

On balancing work and home life: Klarman said that family always comes first with him, followed by philanthropy. Klarman and his wife Beth founded The Klarman Family Foundation, and Klarman sits on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.

In closing, Klarman encouraged his listeners to seek advice. Most people are receptive to mentoring young professionals, he said, and even queries for help can lead to fulfilling, lifelong friendships.

Learn more about the MBA Women in Investing (WIN) Conference.

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