Curtis Jensen '95
Chief Investment Officer
Third Avenue Management, LLC
A gift for the International Experience, Loan Forgiveness, and corporate governance
"I’ve been very fortunate in my career. When I started at SOM I thought about a joint degree at the Forestry School. In fact, my summer internship after the first year was with a waste-management company, where I figured out it wasn’t for me. What I was really keen on doing was research. I happened to meet my current boss, Marty Whitman, in the second semester of my second year. He was my professor. I actually graduated without a job. I suppose the serendipity part was that he decided that he needed some human resources to support him and he liked the work that I had done. We connected after graduation, and the rest is history.
When I arrived we had one fund. We had about $400 million in assets under management, and there were just three analysts, including Marty. Today we have $29 billion in assets, and a team of 21 analysts, and so it’s just been a wonderful and crazy ride.
"One of the reasons I was attracted to SOM, initially, was because it had a multi-sector perspective, including the world of nonprofits, government, and the private sector. Not only in terms of the curriculum, but also in terms of my classmates. Many came from outside of the U.S. and brought wonderful perspectives to me, personally, and to the classroom experience.
"At Third Avenue, we’ve really expanded our presence abroad, in both developed as well as developing countries. It’s crucial to have a broad, international perspective in thinking about investing. When I heard about the International Experience trips, I thought that they’re something I would have jumped at if they had been available when I was a student. I just think it’s invaluable to spend time with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
"Another major aspect of SOM I appreciate is its dedication to people wanting to work for nonprofits. I’m on the board of a nonprofit here in New York and I’ve been able to see the really great work done by a number of organizations in the city. They deserve to have the best and brightest minds, high-energy folks working with a sense of urgency. And SOM can do that. When I was at SOM I noticed that a lot of people had to take high-paying corporate jobs just to pay off their student loans, even if their heart was in the nonprofit world. Loans can be an enormous burden. But the SOM loan forgiveness program is a way for students to do the kind of work that really helps people. It’s an amazing program, and I’m glad to be able to support it. I hope that SOM-trained students can go into that world and bring their energy and smarts into something that can have a huge impact."