LSU SFA Visits NYC
February 4, 2015
NEW YORK – On October 1, 2014, 16 members of the LSU Student Finance Association (SFA) visited New York City to meet with E. J. Ourso College of Business alumni and gain exposure to the daily activity in the financial district and surrounding area. The trip is an annual tradition, with SFA members traveling to the “Big Apple” during fall break.
Students had the chance to meet with representatives from several areas of finance, ranging from investment banking, consulting, asset management, and commercial banking. The trip was not all business, though, as the students were also given free time to explore the city and watch the LSU-Auburn football game.
The following is an account of the trip, originally submitted by SFA Vice President Brad Felger and Treasurer Mason DeLapp.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
On Wednesday morning, the group eagerly traveled to Baton Rouge Metro Airport to begin the journey to New York City. Lucky for us, our flight was scheduled for late morning, giving us a chance to be refreshed and ready for what awaited us. Although we had minor delays in getting there, the layovers provided an opportunity for trip goers to get to know one another. After a layover in Charlotte, we took cabs to our hotel, the Intercontinental in Times Square.
Immediately on arrival, we were struck by the stark difference between where we came from and where we arrived. Taxicabs filled the street, HD video boards lined the exterior of the buildings in Times Square, and the famous New Year’s Ball was within our sight. After an Italian dinner and some nightlife, we went back to rest for our meetings the next day.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
We met bright and early with Allen & Company. This was a treat, as Allen & Company is famously known for being covert. The meeting was hosted by LSU alumni Colin Toney and Kristi O’Brien, both received their Bachelor of Science in Finance in 2009. Previously an analyst at Stephens Inc., Toney discussed the history of Allen & Company and how it differs from the “bulge bracket” companies that the market views as its competitors. Toney and O’Brien talked about the atmosphere of the company, its annual conference in Sun Valley, and its privacy concerning operations. They then went on to detail their history related to joining the organization and explained their various backgrounds. Both also mentioned examples of past transaction experience in the media, sports, and health care sectors, including Twitter’s IPO and Allen’s recent advising on the sale of the Buffalo Bills.
We then scurried to our next meeting with JPMorgan Chase & Co. A senior bank executive there organized a career panel, allowing us to discuss various topics with high-profile executives who included commercial bankers, asset managers, investment bankers, and CPAs. Sitting on the panel were Scott Troy, Rilan McClendon, Cass Sellers, and Rob Wittenger. Topics discussed included careers paths and the advantages larger firms offer for the beginning of a career, such as training programs and outstanding exit opportunities. The panel also spoke of the importance of networking as it relates to obtaining jobs in cities far from your university and mentioned the characteristics, such as organizational and presentation skills, found in top candidates for jobs. Lastly, the speakers encouraged a sound understanding of accounting in performing financial analysis.
After breaking for lunch, we went to Guggenheim Partners, where Sheli Bloemer, a 2013 LSU finance graduate, greeted us. She spoke about her recent career in fixed income and explained the different divisions of Guggenheim Securities before introducing us to Sergey Trishin, who works in structured product banking. Trishin gave a detailed explanation of the concept of securitizing assets and then delivered an extensive and motivating talk on goal setting. He emphasized the importance of knowing your passions and the things that motivate you. According to Trishin, one should know what a job entails before applying, know why one wants to do that job, and know where one would like to do that job most. He also stressed the importance of a perfectly formatted and detailed resume and provided some tips. We were then greeted by Paul Friedman, chief operating officer of Guggenheim. He detailed the business model of the organization and proudly presented the positive performance the firm has seen over the last several years and future expected growth. Friedman also emphasized that although entry-level work may not be exciting, it is important to maintain a positive attitude and learn as much as possible when starting a career.
Our last meeting of the day took us to the heart of Manhattan, where Fernando Guerrero, a distinguished LSU alumnus and managing director of Varadero Capital, hosted us. He gave an inspiring speech on the attitude necessary for excellence in New York and how personality and perseverance really make a difference regarding job opportunities. Guerrero detailed the hardships and extra steps students from LSU must take to reach the top. He stressed, however, that the track to the top must be done in a fashion that maintains integrity above everything else. No shortcut can erase the effects of a bad name or bad reputation. Guerrero also emphasized the importance of relationships in business and that integrity leads to lasting relationships. Above all, he stressed the importance of reading – one must keep one’s mind sharp for success.
To end the eventful day, we attended an alumni dinner at the Pig N’ Whistle. There, we were given the opportunity to network with some of the speakers we had met with earlier, as well as other alumni. It was a great way to build contacts in New York and socialize in a less formal setting.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Our first meeting on a busy, yet invaluable, Friday was with Jordan Low, managing partner and founder of Wave Hill Capital. Low detailed his inspiring life story of moving to the United States and attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received bachelor’s degrees in computer science, management, economics, and mathematics, as well as a Master of Engineering in Computer Science! All five of Low’s degrees were earned in four years, requiring him to take 12 classes per semester. After graduating, Low was a proprietary equity trader for Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank before forming Wave Hill Capital Management in 2011. He attributes his success to a healthy diet (consisting of superfoods and Omega-3 fatty acids), meditation, and an understanding of others’ personalities. He also provided personal financing advice, such as holding off financial decisions for at least one year when getting married, conducting due diligence on stocks or funds before investing, and other recommendations.
On the way to our next meeting, we visited the site of the new World Trade Center and September 11 Memorial. It was a solemn moment of reflection for us, but seeing the progress made since the devastation was a sign in our minds that nothing can take down our country forever.
We then visited Goldman Sachs for a lunch meeting that included LSU alumni Melissa Landry, a 2011 LSU finance graduate,and Rocio Pineda, a 2013 LSU international trade & finance graduate with an internal auditing concentration. They moderated a panel that included internal auditors, investment bankers, commodity traders, and fund managers. The panel discussed various topics, including interview preparation, interning, and networking. The panel agreed that maintaining a high GPA, becoming involved in clubs and obtaining leadership roles within them, and being eager to learn are characteristics that stand out in successful job candidates. The panel also mentioned ways to be a successful intern after obtaining the position.
We wrapped up the final day of meetings and were given the remainder of the day to do what we pleased. Some saw a show on Broadway, others dined in Times Square, and the rest visited the Empire State Building.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
On Saturday, students had the opportunity to tour New York. Some spent the day shopping, a few visited Central Park and Rockefeller Plaza, and others explored parts of the city we hadn’t had the chance to visit. In the evening, we all met at Legends Bar to watch the LSU vs. Auburn game. Legends is the only LSU bar in New York, so most of the people there watching the game were originally from the south and attended LSU. The atmosphere made it feel like we were back in Baton Rouge. Even though the game didn’t end in LSU’s favor, it was still fun to see Tiger spirit that far north before heading home.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
We were again lucky to have an afternoon flight for our return trip to New Orleans. Some attendees had the morning to jog, make a last-minute sightseeing trip, or shop for souvenirs. We then arrived home that afternoon and reflected on the eventful trip.
This outstanding journey would not have been possible without the efforts of Walter Morales, instructor in the LSU Department of Finance. With his help, the students of the SFA were able to experience the finance world in New York in remarkable fashion. The SFA is also incredibly grateful to the company representatives for providing it with a truly educational and unforgettable trip.
LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business