Jake Wamala, MBA19

Experience best teacher for Haas finance fellow: Jake Wamala, MBA 19

By Liz Rosenberg

If you want to harness the power of knowledge, you must acquire the wisdom to apply it correctly. Take chess for example.

“You can learn the rules, but it takes years of experience to hone the skills needed to win,” explains Jake Wamala, MBA19, Haas Finance Fellow, and former youth chess champion.

“In chess, you build a database of pattern recognition where you see this works well or that move would give you an advantage,” he says. “That also applies to investing when you see a certain company doing something unique and sense that this opportunity could be really big.”

Because he understood the vital role of experience in a person’s success—on and off the chessboard—Jake embraced the many experiential learning opportunities available to him as a student in the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA program.

Investor insights

Through his Investment Strategies & Styles course taught by veteran investors Ted Janus and Bob O’Donnell, Jake gleaned insights from the perspective of some of the nation’s top performers. He found himself drawn to Warren Buffett’s value investing approach.

“It still resonates with me in terms of investing in businesses with a clear competitive advantage and the potential to produce long-term profits. This allows you to take advantage of the power of compounding.”

Investment club

Involvement in the Haas Investment Club helped Wamala expand his professional network, practice his analysis and pitching skills, and explore potential employers.

As co-president, he helped set up and joined in company treks to premier organizations such as Franklin Templeton, Guggenheim Partners, and Ares Management.

“You can only find out so much from a company website,” he says. “When you get to meet the people and see how they operate day to day, you get a better feel for the company culture.”

Jake also participated in a variety of stock pitch competitions including the 2017-18 Global Network Investment Competition which involved 22 teams from 15 schools. For six months, judges measured and weighed each team’s stock performance against the S&P 500. The Haas team nabbed first place. “That was exciting because we outperformed with close to a 30% net return against schools from all around the world.”

Jake Wamala, MBA19

Parnassus internship

Jake gained his first hands-on experience in socially responsible investing through a summer internship at Parnassus Investments, a fund founded by Berkeley alumnus Jerry Dodson ’65. At Parnassus, he worked on two pitches and learned how to assess a company’s value based on fundamental analysis and study of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

“I got a look at how Parnassus does things. They don’t just download reports, they do their own analysis. They look at the stakeholders: what impacts the bottom line and what a company needs to get right from an ESG perspective.”

SRI fund

His experience at Parnassus folded neatly into his next role: serving as portfolio manager for the student-led Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund . Since last fall, Jake has helped manage the fund’s more than $3 million in assets.

“Managing the fund allows me to examine issues of corporate and social responsibility and then combine that with investing acumen,” Wamala says. “We decide to buy or sell certain companies based on changes in their fundamentals, including how their ESG impacted stakeholders such as employees, investors, and the communities they were involved in.”

Jake values the wisdom gained from his time at Berkeley Haas and hopes to apply it to his new position at Aristotle Capital Management where he’ll serve as a global research analyst.

“I hope to leverage my experience from Haas to help Aristotle analyze really good businesses in which to invest.”

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Posted on April 18, 2019
Themes: Finance
Liz Rosenberg
Liz was Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Full-time MBA Program at Berkeley Haas from 2018-2019. She holds an MBA from Boston University and came to Haas after gaining years of experience in retail for Gap and Gymboree, in financial services for Putnam Investments, as well as engaging in significant non-profit volunteer work. Prior to joining the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program, she spent 7 years in admissions for Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She loves her work in admissions because of the connections she's able to develop with students, all of whom bring such amazing diversity of personal and professional experience to the program.