What changes have you seen in markets and the hedge fund industry since you started your career? Did you long/short your own accounts? What do you look for when hiring people?
These questions raised just some of the issues considered by a panel of top hedge fund managers at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce Spring Symposium, “Investing in Markets, Society, and Ourselves: Views from Investment Masters.” McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml welcomed a capacity crowd of alumni, students and friends to the April 26 event, which was co-sponsored by the University’s Contemplative Studies Center and held in the Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.
The symposium’s first panel discussion, “Investing: Current and Future Opportunities,” was moderated by 1985 McIntire alumnus John Griffin, president and founder of Blue Ridge Capital, and featured two other investors who consistently beat the market for over 25 years: Paul Tudor Jones, a 1976 alumnus of U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences who is founder, co-chairman, chief investment officer and controlling principal of Tudor Investment Corporation; and Julian Robertson, chairman and chief executive officer of Tiger Management L.L.C. The trio discussed lessons from their careers regarding investing, the opportunities and concerns they see today and future opportunities.
They also heard and commented on stock pitches by two McIntire students, fourth-year Harrison Freund and third-year Jonathan Wulkan, and an investment idea from 2002 McIntire alumna Hoda Alibair.
Amid talk of borrowing costs, dividend yields and overnight rates, one thing became clear: The success of a company is often based on whom it hires.
“I got great young people who drove me to be better than I’d been before,” Robertson said. “Talented young people begat more of the same in terms of personality traits, brains, honesty and competitiveness – that ‘can’t be beat’ attitude is what we looked for and hired.”
Griffin, a former “Tiger Cub” who worked in various positions at Tiger Management and eventually became president, noted that Robertson was “always willing to take a risk by hiring young people who were smart, competitive and honest. In fact, many of his ‘Tiger Cubs’ came from McIntire.”
The second panel discussion, “Society and Ourselves: Personal Insights and Practices,” featured Jones, Robertson and Griffin, joined by McIntire marketing professor David Mick, who teaches a popular “Wisdom and Well-Being” course, and by 1977 McIntire alumnus Jeff Walker, retired managing partner of JPMorgan Partners and retired vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Walker moderated a discussion about their involvement with and support for important global initiatives and about their own unique strategies for personal development and how these strategies help them to live a more complete and fulfilled life.
Mick discussed the results of a survey of McIntire students and alumni that revealed a vast majority of respondents are engaged in practices designed to enhance their contemplative development.
When Walker asked about his “cutting-edge” class on wisdom and well-being, Mick said it’s partly about ethics, but mostly about wisdom. “Students genuinely yearn for these skills and understandings,” he said.
All five panelists agreed that key elements of wisdom, well-being and a fulfilled life are derived from giving back. The investors spoke about their active involvement in numerous philanthropic activities, and each highlighted the importance of supporting nonprofits that improve people’s lives. They take great satisfaction not only in providing financial resources, but also in applying their business acumen to help the organizations achieve their highest potential.
“I'm a product of mentoring, which I learned firsthand at Tiger, and I've found that it has become an essential part of my life,” Griffin said. “Everyone here has been greatly enhanced by mentors. Being involved with teaching at McIntire, for example, makes me both happier and a better investor; I've built my firm with former students.”
He emphasized the importance of being involved in philanthropic activities. “Being active in philanthropy gives you a connection. Everything is greater than you. If you're not a giver, you're lost.”