Investment Banking Analyst
Robert W. Baird & Co.
Tell us about yourself. How did you come to Tulane?
I grew up in an impoverished part of Philadelphia. Because of this, I knew that upon graduating high school I wanted to attend a college that was both academically rigorous and an advocate for the voiceless. In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, Tulane announced that public service wasn’t just a virtue, but a bonafide graduation requirement. This resonated with me. The opportunity to become part of something greater stirred my spirit and I soon found myself a Philadelphian riding a street car.
Bachelor of Science in Management, Finance 2011
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Master of Accounting, Freeman School of Business 2011
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
What do you do?
As a part of the Technology and Services group at Robert W. Baird & Co. I work within a project team to provide investment banking advisory services to our clients. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of industries from consumer to education to technology. Depending on the day, you can find me pouring over and creating financial models, writing and drafting client materials and even doing a little bit of graphic design.
What skills do you use regularly?
This challenging yet rewarding career path utilizes many skills that were honed at Tulane. There is certainly the technical aspect of investment banking which calls on my general finance skills (crafting operating models, performing valuation analysis and determining the accretive / dilutive effects of a transaction), but I was initially surprised by the amount of business writing that was involved in my role. I spend a significant amount of time drafting materials to support a proposed transaction. I also commonly use graphic design skills in my normal day to day, which was also unexpected. I used to use Photoshop to make funny photos of my friends, now I use Photoshop to create pictographs to demonstrate how client X’s technology platform is revolutionary.
How did you get to where you are today?
After graduation, I initially launched my career as a member of the Financial Services Group at PwC in Chicago. During my time there, I built a strong foundation in accounting while having the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the field. I learned more about accounting and business in my two and a half years at PwC than I did studying for the CPA or taking business classes. PwC is lauded for their training and mentorship and I am grateful for the opportunities that they gave me.
However, while I enjoyed serving my clients at PwC, I knew after some time that public accounting wasn’t a fit for me long term. I enjoyed the advisory aspect of public accounting, but I wanted to help businesses make critical decisions to further their growth. Investment banking allows me to pair excellent and differentiated companies with the right investors to fuel their growth.
What are some of the pros of your current position or role?
There are many benefits to a career in investment banking. For me, I can bucket them into these categories:
Critical Thinking: Investment banking has really sharpened my critical thinking skills. My job requires me to think like an investor to help my clients achieve their goals. I am required to consider factors that include: what are the merits / investment highlights of the business, what’s the industry outlook, what are the risks that would make my client unattractive and conversely, how do I address those concerns early on? This career is very intellectually rewarding.
Exposure: Beyond the direct exposure and networking opportunities with CEOs, investment banking has given me exposure to a number of different companies and industries. For each company, I had to gain a deep understanding of their general industry and niche. This meant understanding the industry’s past, key drivers of growth and differentiation, how the industry looks to shift in the future and how my client fits in that picture. These experiences help me learn and evaluate other industries as I become exposed to it. For example, I was recently discussing with a colleague the acquisition dynamics and platform potential of a foodservice company. During the discussion, I was able to draw on my prior experience and say I’ve seen how roll-up platforms in property restoration, staffing and education work and I think concept X could be in play here.
Personal Growth: An investment bank can be a pressure cooker environment at times. Learning how to work in a stressful situation with high stakes is invaluable. Not only experiencing that, but realizing that I can succeed and thrive in that environment gives me great confidence in my other pursuits.
What did you study at Tulane?
I earned a BSM in Finance with Energy Specialization.
What insights did you have as a college student?
Take risks and try everything in your early years but really devote yourself to something you’re passionate about after your sophomore year. I was in the fortunate position of already having a strong interest in finance and accounting, thus I stuck with it and found it to be a very rewarding major.
What academic advice would you offer incoming students?
Don’t just take an elective because you think it will further your career. If you’re a business major, take a dance class. If you’re a liberal arts major, take a science class. You’ll be surprised at how valuable a well-rounded experience can be and how these different schools of thought can further your growth in your discipline. More importantly, it makes you a more interesting person.
Do you have any other recommendations?
Always show up and put your best foot forward, you’ll never know where that road will take you. When I was a rising junior in college, I was invited to lunch with the lead partner at a global law firm. It was a casual networking lunch a friend set it up for me as a favor.
I almost didn’t go. After a brutal week of finals and a redeye to Chicago, I had every intention of rescheduling. But luckily, my then girlfriend (now wife) poured a bottle of water on my head and shoved me out the door. That conversation opened doors for me and lead to a series of conversations that got me to where I am today. Ever since that day, I’ve always tried to think of every opportunity as potentially life changing.
What do you wish you had known as a first-semester freshman?
You’re going to fail. A lot. That’s okay, it’s a part of life. You’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 504-865-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org