The Tippie Connection
Thursday, May 10, 2018
By Rebekah Tilley

When we tell student success stories, what sometimes gets lost are the stories of all the people who made that success possible. Each one of us stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Our families raised us, faculty mold us, alumni give back with their time, counsel, and hard-earned money. 

This is the story of a Tippie student from Burlington, Iowa, who through a solid curriculum, good advice, and hard work landed a job offer with Goldman Sachs following her graduation in May 2018. And it's also a story of some of the people whose shoulders she's standing on.  

Hannah Hendricks

While her orthopedic surgeon father encouraged her toward a career in medicine, it was the business side of her dad’s private practice that captured the attention of Hannah Hendricks (BBA18). She eventually followed three of her older sisters to the University of Iowa.

“I came in an economics major and then Hawkinson guided my eventual decision toward adding the finance major and wanting to pursue a career in financial services,” says Hendricks describing the Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance, a highly selective undergraduate program that grooms Tippie students for careers in investment banking. “Combining those two majors led to me being interested in capital markets because that’s where those two subjects marry so well.”

The top-down analysis model in financial services is a skill Hendricks honed in Applied Equity Valuation – the Krause Fund elective course – where Tippie students are under the tutelage of Todd Houge, the Curt and Carol Lane Research Fellow and director of Undergraduate Studies in Finance.

“Going through the Krause Fund has been one the most valuable experiences I’ve had while at Tippie,” declares Hendricks. “Through it I was able to gain technical skills that are directly applicable to a career in banking.”

This included producing a report that looks at macro-economic factors driving a sector, researching sub-industries likely to benefit from those trends, exploring how this influences companies, building financial statement forecasts and valuation models from scratch, and synthesizing a cohesive opinion in a report to an audience of experts. In the case of Krause Fund students, the audience of experts is the Krause Fund Advisory Board.

In addition to the hard skills gained through the Krause Fund, Hendricks received extensive soft skills coaching through the Hawkinson Institute.

After being accepted into Hawkinson as a sophomore, Hendricks attended a class in which two Hawkinson alumni – Sandy Davis (BBA04), a vice president in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, and Shalini Hanoman Campbell (BBA04), a director in leveraged finance distribution and trading at BMO Capital Markets – spoke to current students about opportunities at their respective banks. At a lunch afterward, Hendricks began to forge relationships with both women – especially with Davis.

“That connection I formed with Sandy was really instrumental in getting a foot in the door at Goldman Sachs,” says Hendricks. “She really helped me when it came to the Goldman Sachs undergrad camp, and eventually securing an internship and a full-time position.”

“Hannah stood out as such a hard worker,” says Davis. “I remember looking at her resume and thinking: ‘Wow, this woman isn't afraid to put her head down and get a job done.’”

Sandy Davis

But why was an executive at a major investment bank in New York City taking time out of her hectic schedule to come to Iowa City and coach students?

“I'm just so grateful for the experience that I had at Iowa,” responds Davis.

As a Hawkinson student herself, Davis flourished under the mentorship of Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, director of the Hawkinson Institute from 2002 to 2004, and Sarah Rogers, then assistant director. Colloredo-Mansfeld had spent a portion of her career as a Wall Street analyst and found innovative ways to get Hawkinson students into internships with top investment banks that had not historically taken Tippie students. This included careful pre-screening and “match making” between investment banks and students. Over time, says Colloredo-Mansfeld, bank recruiting teams came to trust the reputation of Hawkinson students.

“A combination of a really strong finance faculty and finance course offerings, summer internship experience and coaching, as well as a real hunger for opportunity on the part of the students meant that recruiters started looking to Iowa to recruit for New York and Chicago positions,” says Colloredo-Mansfeld, now the executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit MiracleFeet.

Once students land jobs, they excel, which enhances the reputation of Iowa’s Hawkinson Scholars as well-grounded in finance and down-to-earth. These alumni then become advocates within their firms and strengthen the talent pipeline.

Besides getting Tippie students’ collective feet in the door, Hawkinson instills in students a confidence that they can compete professionally.

“The confidence part was half the battle,” recalls Davis. “I was terrified to move to New York. I didn't think I belonged there or that I could do it, and Chesca and Sarah pushed me out of my comfort zone to at least give it a try. I think that often, especially as women, we need that person to nudge us and say, 'No, really. You are absolutely qualified to do this. It's not as scary as you think and let me tell you why.’" 

“Alumni are the driving force behind our ability to place students in these high-visibility positions at well-known banks,” says Brian Richman, director of the Hawkinson Institute since 2008. “Most are very dedicated about paying it forward and creating the same opportunities for younger students.”

The collaborative environment has long been a hallmark of the Hawkinson Institute, Richman says.

“Seniors help juniors. Juniors help sophomores. Alumni are involved all along the way. As strange as it sounds, interview prep for investment banking is very much a team sport. You can’t do it alone. It depends very much on building cohesiveness within the program.”

Gary Fethke and Jay Sa-Aadu

The concepts that became the Hawkinson Institute and the Krause Fund were born in the 1990s under the deanship of Gary Fethke (BA64; PhD68).

“It's important to create distinctive programs that are hard to copy," said Fethke. "You just can’t have mass- produced undergrads. You have to give them something special. And that programming has to be funded by private sources."

He found an early champion in Marvin Pomerantz (BSC52) who wanted to honor investment banker H. John Hawkinson (BA36), who had profoundly impacted Pomerantz' life and career. Other donors stepped forward including Keith Cook (BSC49) and Sharon Kress and, in 1999, the Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance was established. In the previous year, W.A. (Bill) Krause (BA57), endowed the Krause Fund, which offered undergraduates experiential learning in real-world portfolio management.

Fethke says that initially, the idea was to teach investment banking to students, but it quickly became clear that the curriculum wasn't the problem. It was placement.

“We’re far from the major financial centers," said Jay Sa-Aadu, professor of finance and the Finance department executive officer from 1982 to 1994. "In the 1980s, at best we would place students in Chicago or maybe Minneapolis.”

The vision of the Hawkinson Institute quickly pivoted its emphasis to placement and today Hawkinson successfully places students at all types of investment banking firms: bulge bracket, middle market, and elite boutiques in New York, Chicago, and the Bay area. The value of the Krause Fund continues to grow as the elective class pushes today’s students to new levels of excellence. That legacy – coupled with a strong Midwestern work ethic – ultimately landed Hendricks in another interview chair.

During her summer internship, Hendricks pursued an internal mobility option and jumped from Goldman's finance division to the banking side of the business. One major selling point: her Krause Fund class report.

"Taking the skills and the physical report from the Krause Fund class, I was able to leverage that experience into a new position at Goldman Sachs," says Hendricks. "Given that I had been focusing on doing equity research in the Krause Fund and also covering equities in my internship, I was able to combine those experiences to produce a compelling argument that I was a good fit for an equity capital markets role."

Before making her pitch, Hendricks says she consulted with Davis, Kiran Moorthy (BBA10), and Skaaren Cossé (BBA14), all of whom work in Goldman’s investment banking division and were able to offer her concrete pointers. More proof that the pay-it-forward culture doesn't end after graduation.

The resources of the Hawkinson Institute and the Krause Fund are necessary but not sufficient conditions to the success of students like Hendricks, says Richman. At the end of the day, he says, there's one thing that defines every successful student:

“What I really credit student success to is they work their butts off and they don’t give up.”

This article originally appeared in the 2018 issue of Exchange, the UI Department of Finance alumni magazine.  Photo by Justin Torner.