Investing in the Future
The Hawk Center for Applied Security Analysis at the Wisconsin School of Business is doing something groundbreaking this year—offering BBA students the opportunity to learn from senior leaders in the investment management industry and then apply the concepts they learn in the classroom to real-world investment problems.
“The class allows us to share industry expertise directly with undergraduate students,” says Brian Hellmer (BBA ’87, MS ’89), director of the Hawk Center. “It extends our nationally renowned Wisconsin Applied Security Analysis Program, which is targeted at graduate students, to a select group of BBA students, giving them a unique opportunity to learn directly from successful executives.”
“The class allows us to share industry expertise directly with undergraduate students, giving them a unique opportunity to learn directly from successful executives.”
- Brian Hellmer (BBA ’87)
Director of the Hawk Center at the Wisconsin School of Business
“We are trying to prepare UW graduates for the practical challenges they will face in real-world investment analysis and help them compete for jobs on Wall Street.”
- Ricky Sandler (BBA ’91)
Ceo and Chief Investment Officer, Eminence Capital LP
The Applied Equity Market Research course—taught by Wisconsin School of Business alumni Dan Pickett (BBA ’87, MS ’88), Paul Leff (BBA ’83, MS ’84), and Ricky Sandler (BBA ’91)—accepts BBA candidates who go through a rigorous application process to be admitted to the class.
“We’re trying to prepare UW graduates for the practical challenges they’ll face in real-world investment analysis, helping them compete for jobs on Wall Street,” says Sandler, CEO and chief investment officer at Eminence Capital LP. “Researching, analyzing, and investing in equity securities is quite different from what students learn in finance textbooks. We’re sharing our collective experience applied to case studies of public companies.”
Both Leff and Sandler, who have been strong advocates of the course since its inception, committed to commuting from New York City to UW–Madison in an effort to share their real-world expertise in person with Wisconsin BBA students.
“Our students aren’t managing money, but instead are learning how to become equity analysts,” explains Leff, who spent 25 years with New York City–based investment management firm Perry Capital LLC as co-founder, partner, and chief investment officer. “This is a very challenging endeavor that requires strong math skills, strong research skills, and good intuition coupled with hard work and persistence. It requires taking all the finance, accounting, and economics that our students have studied and attempting to determine which information is most relevant in making investment judgments.”
By the end of the course, BBA students will develop investment recommendations based upon their analysis and valuation. Subsequently, they will create investment pitches to convince portfolio managers to implement their recommendations.
“We’re trying to level the playing field for our students when they interview for jobs, getting them more applied learning opportunities so that they’re more competitive in New York City,” says Hellmer. “We want to bring more expertise into the undergraduate program.”
“These students are working with investment executives to develop the practical skills necessary to research, analyze, and pitch securities as long investments or short sales,” says Pickett, who worked in the investment management industry as an analyst and portfolio manager.
The most inspiring thing about this unique learning opportunity is that both Leff and Sandler have committed to teaching the class again next year, and Hellmer wants to make the offering a permanent part of the curriculum.