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Demystifying the Stock Pitch for Women MBAs

In 2015, during her first year at Acme Business School’s MBA program, Julia V. met John S., our company’s director of research for North America, at an on-campus stock pitch competition. Impressed by her brilliance and promising talent, John asked Julia if she would be interested in pursuing a career in investment management. But she said she didn’t feel prepared.

 

Like many first-year MBAs, Julia had never learned how to pitch a stock, and in the investment management world, stock pitching—presenting a summary of a short- or long-term investment opportunity or idea in order to initiate discussions on potential investments—is an essential component of the interview process. It determines whether one gets the job.

 

In fact, when Julia asked her female cohorts if they would be interested in investment management, very few responded in the affirmative.

 

“By the time we start business school, we have to already know what we want to do since recruiting starts almost immediately,” one person said. “If I don’t know how to pitch a stock by the time I start business school, the prospect of landing a job in investment management is very low for me.”

 

“If investment management firms provide training sessions or opportunities to pitch one-on-one, the idea of pitching a stock for the first time may become less scary,” Julia told John.

 

Recognizing that women are largely underrepresented in equity and investment management roles and remembering the firm’s commitment to encouraging women to pursue careers in investing, John sought out to change the numbers.

 

“I started coaching Julia, and she made her first-ever stock pitch to me in a windowless interview room on Acme’s campus,” John remembers. By April 2016, Julia was part of a team that pitched a stock to over 500,000 CNBC viewers during the Stock Pitch Challenge, a three-month competition where about 40 teams of first- and second-year Acme Business School students compete to present their best investment idea to a panel of judges. She won.

 

Later that year, our company started the annual Stock Pitch Workshop for Women, a free, one-and-a-half-day workshop for women entering their first year of business school. Since 2016, the program has become a strategic driver for attracting diverse talent to asset management roles and provides participants the opportunity to learn from and network with the firm’s investment professionals.

 

This year’s stock pitch workshop took place August 17–18 at our corporate headquarters in Baltimore. On Friday, students joined investment professionals for dinner and conversation about the various career paths available in investment management, including buy side, sell side, and consulting. They heard stories from analysts—both women and men—about the paths that led them to their current careers.

 

The all-day workshop on Saturday focused on the basics that participants need to know in order to develop an effective stock pitch. Participants were offered guidance on how to select an investment idea and take it from the initial stage through to the final pitch. The workshop covered: finding an idea, how to conduct primary research, what makes a good investment thesis, valuation, and tips for delivering a great pitch presentation. Participants interested in fixed income careers also learned skills that are transferable to credit analyst roles.

Attracting top women MBAs

Since its inception in 2016, the Stock Pitch Workshop for Women has helped over 100 women become better prepared and skilled at developing stock pitches and has provided opportunities for them to create better networks with investment professionals at our company. This year, there were 36 participants from nine business schools and two undergraduate programs, representing the largest class and the highest number of academic institutions represented since the program began.

 

“This workshop is a strategic effort by the Investments team to build a pipeline of talented women in investment management,” says Nancy G., diversity recruitment program manager. “Events like this deepen our relationships with impressive, diverse candidates.”

 

Terry W., director of U.S. equity research, who helped to plan the workshop and was also a presenter, agrees.

 

“Our primary goal is to increase awareness and interest in an investment management career among high-potential, incoming women MBAs, as well as arm them for success should they decide to pursue this path. Hopefully, some of the attendees will pursue investment management—ideally at our company.”

 

It takes a village

Planning and hosting a stock pitch workshop is no small feat. This year’s event was a collaborative effort among Equity, Fixed Income, Talent Acquisition, and Corporate Events associates. While John and Terry were responsible for planning the agenda and participating in the event, Nancy—along with Kelly R., talent acquisition manager—recruited panelists and presenters and incorporated feedback from past participants into shaping this year’s event. Jennifer J., corporate events coordinator, planned and oversaw the event logistics.

 

“It’s been inspiring to see our analysts and portfolio managers show up on a Saturday to participate in this workshop,” says John. “I am proud to work for a firm that not only talks about diversity but lives it every day.”