Thanks to the leadership of Investment Club co-President’s Chao Zhang ’13 and Matt Therian ’13, 16 Haas MBA students (plus 1 undergraduate) visited Los Angeles for two days last week and met with a range of investment management firms across both public and private investment classes. Courtney Walker, newly hired account manager for financial services and real estate, also joined us.
On Thursday, we took a quick flight down to Burbank and met with Oaktree Capital, an alternative investment firm. Immediately, we got a sense of the firm’s culture summed up by Howard Marks, the firm’s founder who has a rule on hiring “no jerks.” We also heard from several investment professionals across the firm’s distressed debt, high yield, and private equity groups including Rajath Shourie, co-Portfolio Manager and Jerilyn Castillo McAniff, Senior Vice-President and a Haas undergraduate alum. Aaron Bendikson, Managing Director, encouraged us to think of business school as a “priceless call option” and to use our time wisely to reflect and explore different career options.
Later that evening, we checked into our hotel and changed out of our dress clothes. Several of us stumbled upon a family-style Mediterranean restaurant, where we enjoyed a nice break, good meal, and a lot of bonding with our fellow classmates.
On Friday, we got going early to meet with several more firms. First, we had a breakfast meeting with the Capital Group, one of the largest public equity managers. Three Capital investment professionals discussed their work and long-term, diversified investment approach. Portfolio Manager Greg Johnson described how he “skips to work every day” and highlighted the intellectual excitement of a career in investment management. We also got great advice on preparing for stock pitches, a necessary component of the investment management interview. We were advised to keep our stock pitches concise and not worry about making mistakes.
Our second meeting was with PRIMECAP, another public equity manager whose founders originally spun out of Capital Group. Several PRIMECAP investment professionals including Jared N. Herzikoff-Cornell, a Berkeley alum, shared their long-term investment approach (their holding period is 7-10 years) that avoids committees and allows for individual decision-making. We also discussed the merits for investing in Schwab and Amgen. Joel Fried, President of PRIMECAP concluded by sharing some meaningful words of advice on investing: “Don't assume the most recent past will be the immediate future. Stocks have no memory and change in perceptions lag change in reality.”
Finally, the group finished by meeting with PIMCO in Newport Beach, where PIMCO account manager and recent alumni Laura Bentzien ’12, hosted us. Imagine our surprise when we entered PIMCO’s trading floor and saw the words “Welcome Haas Investment Club” on the stock ticker around the floor! Several of us also managed to catch Bill Gross, a legend of the investment industry. Despite being 68, Bill Gross is still one of the earliest in the office and still finds time to do yoga in the middle of the day. Finally, an informal networking reception with plenty of refreshment and delicious cookies capped off our LA visit. All in all, it was a great trip and we all benefited from our interactions with some extremely talented investment professionals. We returned to the Bay Area late Friday night, exhausted but pleased with our experience.