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My Path to the Buyside through Cornell-Johnson

05/19/2014


The equity analyst career and deciding on business school. Many years ago, I stumbled upon my dream career while reading Benjamin Graham’s Intelligent Investor and from meeting Warren Buffett shortly thereafter. I decided that I wanted to be an equity analyst on a value-focused, long-term, concentrated fund (or at least that’s exactly what my B-school application stated). I was driven and motivated by constant learning, had an affinity for finance, and enjoyed searching for and disseminating information - so the career was a perfect fit. To break into asset management, attending business school was an immense decision but the Johnson School, Parker Center and community were the key to my success. Like a hedge fund that hugely outperforms, the risk taken becomes worth the reward in the end.

The Parker Center provides the tools and the Cayuga Fund meshes academia with practical knowledge. The Parker Center provides the industry tools and training to be an effectual analyst. In my first year at Johnson, six students were selected to be analysts on the Cayuga Fund (the long-short hedge fund here) and I was humbled to be selected. As an analyst, I worked closely with the portfolio managers (PMs) and pitched a stock to the Cayuga Fund class of second-year students. This was the first time I had the opportunity to manage money for external investors, it was challenging and rewarding. In addition, valuable feedback from the PMs helped fortify my pitches for internship recruiting.

During my second year, I became a PM and was responsible for covering a sector. Though, like other PMs in the class, I had the ability to pitch stocks into the fund from any sector. The experience of the Cayuga Fund classroom, combined with the decision-making process to invest real money, was invaluable. This experience has allowed me to learn about various sectors, investing approaches, different ways of thinking critically, and how to defend investment pitches. The Cayuga Fund is exceptionally unique and meshes academia with the practical knowledge of managing a portfolio and fund.

MAP opens doors and the alumni are incredibly generous with their time. I truly cannot say enough about the alumni network and their willingness to help. Their inclination to educate, coach, and assist is inconceivable. Similarly, I was involved in the Mentors in Asset Management Program (MAP), which paired me with an alumnus at Fidelity Investments. MAP has been instrumental in my success to prepare for and execute in interviews. My MAP mentor and other alumni have also acted as advocates, opening even more doors within and outside the Johnson network.

Three stocks, two teammates, twelve hours = Johnson’s MBA Stock Pitch Challenge. Our participation in the MBA Stock Pitch Challenge trained us for quick decision-making and use of the proper resources to build investment theses. Overall, two classmates and I had 12 hours to prepare three pitches and present them to judges from highly-respected investment firms (American Century, Fidelity, State Street, and T Rowe Price, among others) the following morning. After presenting, the judges asked our team challenging questions and expected us to defend our theses. Johnson’s MBA Stock Pitch Challenge is truly a unique event and the experience has been invaluable. The time pressure and everything leading up to the pitches made us feel like Jonathan Bush after David Einhorn’s Athenahealth presentation - but the pressure is what makes the challenge unique.

Well-prepared for my summer internship. As my classmates and I pushed through an extensive, first-year recruiting season (typical for the asset management industry), I was excited to start the summer as an Investment Analyst at American Century Investments. With the products I learned in the Parker Center and from investment-related classes in the Capital Markets and Asset Management (CMAM) immersion, I was well-prepared. Because of this preparation, I needed minimal or no training to learn the resources on-the-job and was able to start doing analysis immediately. The MBA Stock Pitch Competition helped me present and support investment theses under pressure and I was able to utilize the knowledge learned from my classmates, alumni and CMAM classes. Overall, my summer went incredibly well and I was fortunate to gain asset management experience.

The Investment Management Club and Career Workgroups are invaluable for incoming first-year students. Post-internship, I returned to school and was Co-President of the Investment Management Club (IMC) and served as a Career Workgroup (CWG) Leader. Both of these forums, which met once a week, help prepare incoming first-year students for recruiting (improving stock pitches, cover letters, and alumni contacts, among others). I found these groups to be invaluable as a first-year student and our newly appointed executive teams sought to deliver again to the incoming class.

My fellow classmates, are smart - really smart - and we have camaraderie. My classmates and I all came here with differing backgrounds and we remained a team committed to break into the asset management industry. Together, we participated in team stock pitch challenges, made company visits to several cities, helped each other with interviews (even when recruiting for the same jobs), and attended the Sohn Investment Conference in NYC. Over the past two years, we drew upon everyone’s experience and learned from each other. We respectfully scrutinized each other’s investment pitches, only to push everyone to be better analysts and effectively prepare for interviews. We all had a fantastic time during our two years. Johnson has provided us with a great learning experience and helped us achieve outstanding careers in asset management.

Realizing the career in my admissions essay. Recruiting wasn’t easy but the risk taken to get into the industry was worth the reward. Post-MBA, I will be working as an Investment Analyst on a value-focused, long-term, concentrated fund, which oddly-enough was exactly what my admissions essay stated. There is surely some luck in getting the exact job that I wanted but the real contributors to my success were undoubtedly my fellow classmates, the alumni, Parker Center, faculty, and Johnson community that are not replicable.

Darin grew up in Michigan and graduated with a BA in Finance from Michigan State University. Post-undergrad, Darin worked at Duff & Phelps and EY Capital Advisors and performed business valuations and worked in investment banking for six years. Further, he started several ventures related to investing and real estate during this time. During the summer of 2013, he interned at American Century Investments as an Investment Analyst, performing due diligence and pitching stocks to portfolio managers across numerous sectors and placed many into funds. Post-graduation, he will be working at Seizert Capital Partners in Birmingham, Michigan as an Investment Analyst.

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