Veteran Trader Shares Career Insights with Students
The question that Scott Friedman hears most from aspiring Wall Street traders is, "Where do I start—and wherever I start, will I be trapped?"
Friedman, who spoke at Yale SOM on November 2 as a guest of the Sales and Trading Club, shows no signs of getting bogged down: starting as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in 2001, he became a trader in Goldman's Risk Arbitrage & Principal Strategies Group, then moved to the hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital, where he was head trader. Most recently, he helped found Soroban Capital Partners, where he is a partner and head of trading and risk management.
Friedman told a roomful of students that it was up to them to maintain the momentum in their career trajectories. "If you sit still, you're going to stay still," he said. Anyone starting on Wall Street will make a lot of mistakes, he added, but being passive is what hurts your career the most. "People fail when they take no action out of fear of making a mistake."
During his decade on Wall Street, Friedman said, he moved up by making himself indispensible—educating himself about the intricacies of the markets he was trading in, from memory chips to raw copper, and becoming a source of information for colleagues and supervisors. In the process, he created allies. "They start to root for you when you're helping them," he said. "I've found that investing in relationships and investing in educating yourself is an asset that never depreciates."