Why I Quit my Job as a PE Investor to Pursue a Full-Time MBA in New York
Today we have an interesting topic on – Why I Quit My Job To Pursue an MBA.
Aniket is a Chartered Accountant from India, a CFA Charterholder and an MBA from Columbia Business School (New York).
After 4 years of professional experience post qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he decided to pursue an MBA.
Currently, he works as a Hedge fund analyst at BRX Global, New York.
Why I Decided to do an MBA
So, after 3 years of professional experience post qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I decided to go for an MBA.
I realized I lacked global experience from both, a professional and educational point of view and felt my perspectives were limited to India.
At this point, I felt an MBA from a foreign B-School would be the right next step for my career.
Choosing Columbia Business School
I think the choice of going to a local vs global MBA school is personal.
It depends on the following factors:
- Career goals (want to stay in India vs move abroad)
- Personal circumstances (relationship status, monetary capability, risk-taking with loans)
- Professional experience (pursuing an MBA early on vs after a few years of work ex).
However, it’s important to choose the right school that can provide the maximum impact for one’s career goals.
Hence I’d recommend for people to make their choice not merely based on newspaper rankings or the choices of their friends but based on their own research.
CBS was ideal for both my professional objectives:
- A global perspective given the diversity of the student body
- Being in New York at the ‘very centre of business’ with Wall Street just a subway ride away.
CBS is unique in its Value Investing Program offering which is a special class of 40 students constituted in the second year of the MBA program.
Over 7 intense classes, students are exposed to some of the best investors in the world who provide a practical flavor on how they practice their art.
Our professors included the likes of - Bruce Greenwald, Joel Greenblatt, Michael Mauboussin as well as portfolio managers and analysts from some well-accomplished funds including First Eagle, Maverick Capital, Aravt Global, Blue Ridge Capital etc.
CBS has an extraordinary heritage of investors including Warren Buffett and professor Bruce Greenwald is known as the ‘Guru to the gurus’ on Wall Street.
Being in NY also provided me with the opportunity for school-year internships where I was working part-time in investment funds and getting on-the-job experience while being in school.
For my specific career goals, I thought CBS was the perfect choice after speaking to several alumni and current students.
And I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at CBS.
How Did I Manage Financially an MBA at CBS, New York
Going to CBS was a huge financial decision given the opportunity cost of being out of the workforce as well as the explicit cost of tuition and other expenses over two years.
I was blessed to be awarded multiple scholarships from the school.
And I managed the rest of the financial commitment from a combination of personal savings from 4 years of previous work experience, family support and school-year internships/ other school jobs.
The typical cost of MBA at a top school is US$110,000 per year, which sounds like a lot but should not deter anyone from applying.
I say that because after securing admission to a good school, it is generally quite easy to borrow money in the United States (US). Having said that, it is generally a good idea to be financially prudent in expenses since things are on average more expensive than India
Challenges Faced and How I Made It Work in my Favour
When I came to CBS, I had left behind a great life in India. I had an amazing well paying job at Apax Partners as a Private Equity Investor which I quit to pursue an MBA.
Moving to New York also meant living away from my family, my fiancé and the comfort of a support system of my friends.
New York is amazing and might sound like fun but away from family, friends in the winter storms can be very depressing.
Over my two years at school, I worked for free at two hedge funds over the school year, networked with dozens of people over coffee chats and sent out hundreds of cold emails.
I interviewed with 70+ firms pitching them ideas and asking them for feedback.
However, the biggest challenge I had to face was - When most employers have been shying away from recruiting students who do not have permanent US work authorization given the ensuing immigration challenges.
But it was my dream to work in an investment fund in New York, the financial capital of the world so I had to make things work for me.
In several cases, I would reach the final rounds but be eliminated because of my immigration status versus other candidates.
It was disheartening to go through this for months altogether while my friends were all getting amazing job offers.
While it was tempting to run back home, I decided to give my best to try to live my dream here.
After almost 7 months of back-breaking legwork, I was finally offered a role by a firm who was willing to see through the formalities and go through the legal maze of sponsoring an immigrant.
And thus began a new phase of my career.
So anyone of you in a similar situation note this - It’s not the size of the man in the fight, but the size of the fight in the man.
Networking to find a job opportunity as a Hedge Fund Analyst
As mentioned above - I have sent 100's of cold emails, networked with different people, worked for free at 2 hedge funds before getting an opportunity.
I would like to share a few tips to help you do the same:
- When it comes to applying for an opportunity as a Hedge Fund Analyst - One MUST have 2-3 investment ideas that can be used as currency to get a foot in the door.
- You can email your investment idea to people and ask them for 15-20 minutes to come in and discuss the idea.
- Most people are busy with their lives and will not be inclined to go out of their way to help.
- Coffee chats just to ask for ‘advice’ is probably not respectful of other people’s times. So all I can say is if you want a person to meet you, give him a reason to meet you.
- On the other hand, you can also send a couple of work samples (a short 2-3 page report in PDF). Most people will appreciate the gesture and help you by giving you feedback.
- Writing to school alumni, other people originally from India or someone whom you might have mutual connections with usually works better – but be prepared for a hit rate of 20-25%.
If you want an idea of what you could include in your email here is an example:
I would write a short note saying ‘My name is xx and I am interested in the investment industry. My previous work background is xx and I am a current MBA student at Columbia Business School.
I have been working on a couple of investment ideas and have attached a short write-up.
Could I request 15 minutes of your time to come in and discuss the ideas and get some feedback on how I can improve my pitches.
Interview Tips For a Hedge Fund Analyst
Almost everyone will ask for an INVESTMENT IDEA and people can very quickly tell if you are bluffing or have done solid work.
It is important to practice the STOCK PITCH - the ability to narrate a complex story very quickly in 2 minutes and delve in details based on the questions.
You must also practice a 1-2 min ‘TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF’ pitch that conveys your background and your interest in the profession.
Opportunities are everywhere and I’d not say immigration is an impossibility but definitely challenging right now.
At the same time, the US has some of the best schools in the world, which one can leverage for jobs in other countries.
I have friends who have studied in Canada, Australia, the UK, and Singapore – all of which are also compelling options.
At the same time, I also would not discount coming back to India – over the last few years, our country has grown quite substantially with deep financial services and tech ecosystem all of which are interesting options depending on one’s interest.
- Everything in life is possible – Provided one is willing to work, fight and bleed for it!
- Michael Phelps, the world’s best swimmer of all time says – ‘I don’t stop when I am tired, I stop when I am done.’
- Don’t settle for what life offers for you but make life happen!
- The effort you put in the first 4 years of your career decide the life you live over the next 40.
- Apart from hard work and luck, what counts is PERSEVERANCE.
I was lucky to discover my passion early on in my life, so I can ‘tap dance’ to work every day.
The other element of my value system I’d highlight is to remember to be thankful and to pay it forward.
Over the years, starting with my father, I have had several mentors who have taken the time and effort to teach, guide and point me towards the right path.
In my own small way, I try to pay back to society for the fortune by guiding others from my experience as I have been lucky to have received over the years.
I am thankful for the blessings of my elders and the grace of God for whatever I have in my life today.
My grandparents and parents imbibed the value of hard work early in my life.
Thanks to their efforts, I could go to great schools that laid the early foundation for my future career - he concluded.
Now It's Your Turn...
Would you ever quit your job to pursue an MBA?
Or have you done an MBA after CA/ CPA?
Comment and let us know.
Aniket is very happy to help. He can be reached on Linkedin at - Aniket Nikumb.
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