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Jack Hampson

Leveraging Alumni Connections: The Hawk Center Visits NYC & Boston

by Jack Hampson Monday, March 7, 2016

One of the difficult things about a career in investment management is that one must continually act without perfect information. Managers are often required to make decisions without access to every data point he or she would desire. Picking an MBA program can create a similar dilemma for prospective students. This post is meant to provide an additional data point, should you be considering attending the Hawk Center for Investment Analysis at the Wisconsin School of Business.

Many schools boast about their investment management programs where students manage real money, varying in terms of size, style, and often, restrictions. Many also tout their successful alumni, location or the placements of recent graduates.

But the willingness of the alumni and friends of the Hawk Center to open their doors to the students, as part of the first-year MBA students’ winter trip to New York and Boston, is notable and differentiated. The trip is fast-paced and packed with information. Over the course of four days we visited 15 firms and attended two alumni receptions in NY and Boston. In total, we met with over 30 investment professionals, all of whom were more than generous with their time and effort to help us learn more about the nuances of the industry and their jobs within it.

Our trip kicked off bright and early at 7am on a Tuesday in January. The first day consisted of five firm visits: three highly regarded sell-side research firms, a prominent value-oriented hedge fund (with a great view of Central Park, and its own style of salad dressing which was recommended to us at lunch by the chef), and a credit-focused alternative asset manager. The day concluded with an alumni reception in midtown. The next three days were a whirlwind of more fantastic conference room views, brisk walks between office buildings, an I-95 road trip and some of the best, most insightful and candid conversations about investing I have ever been a part of.

Alumni of the Hawk Center are truly invested in the program and it is never clearer than when you visit them at their offices and they take time out of their day to answer your questions, whatever they may be. From a story told about why the Enron sign sits in the lobby, to an investing metaphor about a balloon and a boat, to stock pitches, investment philosophies, the banality of commuting and basic career advice, the advice imparted on this trip truly runs the gamut. I found it to be extremely valuable and also a lot of fun. And, hopefully, it helps portray the commitment of the Hawk Center to connecting alumni and current students.