A Look at Alumni Visits: Fall 2010
Each year, Yale SOM alumni return to campus to lecture, teach, and give students a peek into how they’ve built successful careers. This past fall saw a bumper crop of such alumni visits.
A number of alumni who have excelled in the financial world came back to campus. In September, three graduates with very different stories stood before students to explain how they chose their paths. Eddie Tam '93, CEO of Central Asset Investments in Hong Kong, talked about his decision to leave a successful career with Credit Lyonnais, Merrill Lynch, and Salomon Brothers to start his own hedge fund in 2002. Aisha DeSequeira '95, by contrast, is still working for her first post-SOM employer, charting a course from investment banking in New York for J.P. Morgan to opening the company’s first permanent office in India just as the financial crisis hit. Robert Davis '97 is also at the same company he joined after SOM, leading a $1 billion private equity fund at insurance giant Aetna. Davis told students that while the hard skills they’re learning at SOM are important, learning how to deal with people is often as crucial to success in business. "It all goes back to people, never forgot that," he said. "And it all comes down to management in the end."
In early October, Michael Eisenson SOM/Law ’81, explained in a conversation with Dean Sharon Oster why Charlesbank Capital Partners, the private equity firm he leads, avoids investing in "glamour businesses," choosing instead to focus on the kind of companies many in private equity overlook. Eisenson got into private equity soon after leaving SOM, first at Harvard Management Company and then with Charlesbank. He told students that the past couple years have exposed flaws in the private equity model, which often focuses on quick turnarounds instead of long-term management, something Charlesbank stresses. "The outlook in private equity is cloudier than the economy as a whole,," he said.
November brought the first Leaders Forum lecture of the fall, with Timothy Rub ’87 focusing on what it takes to manage large public institutions such as art museums. As the new head of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rub is overseeing a huge expansion in the museum’s physical plant. He noted that when he first started out, a museum’s director could manage almost as a dictator, but that the job now requires the ability to forge consensus among a diverse constituency. Rub surely understand the challenges facing philanthropic organizations that were described in the Net Impact student club’s Philanthropy Conference. Now in its sixth year, the conference on December 3 brought together leaders in the varied field of philanthropy. Three SOM alumni participated in panels: Sheila Cavanaugh '91 spoke on public and private collaborations; Paul Connolly '91 on how to harness digital and social media; and Christopher Keevil '87 on new ways to make philanthropy effective.
Also in December, two prominent alumnae participated in talks sponsored by the Women in Management student club. Sandy Urie '85 took a job at investment firm Cambridge Associates partly because as a single mother she wanted to be near family in Boston. In 2001, she was named the company’s CEO, having helped a firm that had 40 employees and two offices 25 years ago grow into a global brand. Nancy Pfund '82 started a social investment fund in 2004, trying to marry great returns with a positive impact on communities and the environment. She noted that when she first approached potential investors, the idea of a double bottom line approach didn’t quite make sense to many of them. She anticipated a different response from the SOM audience. "In many ways it embodies the SOM ethic,” she said. “It taps into a lot of themes at SOM."