Student Profile: Investment Banker
Nnenna Nnoli '07
Admissions Committee Head, Black Business Alliance
Member, Finance Club
Post-MBA Position: Associate, JPMorgan
I was an economics major as an undergraduate at Stanford and then spent three years at a consulting job that focused on economic competitiveness and development strategies in the United States and other countries around the world. So when I applied to business school, I felt that my soft skills were strong from my consulting background. But, I wanted to be in an environment where I could make a career switch and develop hard skills in finance and accounting in a smaller and more collaborative setting. I wanted to go to a strong general management school that had particular strengths in finance yet not exclusively branded as a “finance school.” Yale fit nicely into those criteria.
When I started my internship search, I was initially focused on working for a multinational in a general management capacity. I didn't think I'd be interested in doing investment banking. But I interacted a lot with the bankers during career events on campus, and I found their presentations and their work to be appealing because I was coming from a similar client-services background; banking was also a nice intersection of my interests and background — economics, finance, and business. So I went through the recruiting process for investment banking, and took a summer internship position at JPMorgan.
The internship was a great experience. I was placed in an industry group covering consumer, retail, and healthcare sectors. I did a lot of the analysis and modeling for prospective and current deals, particularly M&A and leveraged buyout transactions. I enjoyed the learning experience and the environment at JPMorgan, but I had some concerns about the quality of life and whether the career would be sustainable over the long term since the hours are long and the lifestyle is very demanding. I talked to some of the bankers at JPMorgan about my concerns with the lifestyle; I had access to very senior bankers and their advice, particularly from senior female bankers, was very helpful in terms of making my final decision to join the firm full-time after graduation. I think if you're going to do banking, you think more about the near term and the benefits that you're getting, and at any point when the costs outweigh the benefits or the job is no longer fun or interesting, you reassess your decision to be there. But, I didn't want to pre-empt myself from getting into an experience that would be worthwhile and a strong foundation for longer-term career interests. So when I was given an offer after the summer internship I took it, knowing that the experience would give me a lot of challenge and exposure to very complex business, finance, and macroeconomic issues.
At SOM, I have been most active in the Black Business Alliance, particularly in admissions efforts. This past year I've been the admissions committee head, working with the admissions office to coordinate diversity events and reach out to black prospective students coming to campus for visits and interviews. When I talk to black prospective students, I try to give them a very balanced perspective and answer their questions as truthfully as possible to help them make the most informed decision they can. I think that we've done an increasingly better job at reaching out to minority students — I and other members of the BBA have interacted with many of the prospective minority students, answering their questions, having lunch with them, taking them to classes, and hosting information events and panels.
I've also been involved with the Finance Club, participating in a number of the panels and events for first-years who were going through the investment banking recruiting process. I have also helped with their preparation for interviews, conducting mock interviews and reviewing their resumes. Some of the best preparation they get for the interview process and summer internship comes from the second-years who have already gone through it.
Interviewed on April 19, 2007.