Choosing to pursue a career in Investment Banking is an endeavor that requires steady concentration, relentless determination and an ample dose of business sense. But for those who are willing to put in the work, this professional track provides an immensely satisfying opportunity to exercise one’s natural strengths and abilities.
Kyle Schroeder found an outlet for his ‘affinity for numbers’ in a career as an investment banker. His story is proof that with hard work and razor-sharp focus, talented young professionals can achieve the same level of fulfillment with an occupation that will make good use of their skills, and keep them challenged on a daily basis. We asked Kyle how he leveraged his own academic and professional interests to prepare for his ‘dream’ job as an Associate at Citi Group.
Navigating the Finance World with Kyle Shroeder, Citi Group Associate.
Tell a bit about your background: What led you to finance?
I grew up in Wayne, NJ and have an identical twin brother Matthew who is an attorney. I was fortunate to have both a strong academic and athletic career in high school and was sought after by many institutions of higher learning including all eight Ivy League schools. I decided to attend Dartmouth College because of their excellent academic reputation, their access to professors and their winning football program.
Even as a child, I always had an affinity for numbers and attempted to place values on things such as baseball cards. I was the guy who ran the fantasy football league before the advent of the Internet and took much joy in adding the statistics after each game to figure out which team won. When I was introduced to the stock market, a passion for finance developed. The markets seemed like a natural place for me to turn a hobby and talent into a career.
How did you get your first job?
My senior year at Dartmouth I interviewed with multiple Investment Banks. However, it would have been impossible for me to pursue a professional football career as an Analyst, as they typically work 80+ hours a week. Therefore, I decided to look into proprietary trading for a firm in which my hours would be limited by the market, thereby allowing me to continue to train and work out for professional teams. A former classmate and friend was working for a proprietary trading firm at the time. When I asked them if they would let me take a sabbatical to join a professional football team if given the opportunity, their response was very positive. The decision to join a firm that would be that supportive of me was easy.
Why did you join a start-up company? What was the upside and downside of the experience?
I joined the start-up company after applying to and getting accepted to Tuck’s MBA program. While my motivation for attending business school was to land an Associate position in M&A, I felt that given the lack of access to programs for pre-MBA interns, the next best option for me would be to acquire additional experience in a field unrelated to trading where I could develop a skill set that was sought after by Investment Banks.
The upside was huge. I was able to acquire a diverse skill set such as modeling, time management, and the ability to work on multiple projects at once. In addition, I was surrounded by brilliant, passionate people working together to create a business that had previously not existed. The downside was the pay. I earned $500 a week as an Operations Associate. Although the firm offered to pay for my business school education if I stayed with them for another year, I declined in order to pursue my passion for banking.
How did working in operations prepare you for your next job (e.g., lessons learned, skills gained)
As I have stated, the hard skills I developed such as modeling, time management, and project management were critical in preparing me for a role as an Investment Banking Associate. I also took away the ability to successfully interact with highly intelligent, motivated people.
What prompted you to go back for an MBA, and how have you benefited from it?
My desire to obtain a career in investment banking was the main motivation in acquiring an MBA. There was no other way to transition into an Investment Banking Associate position without the skill set and network acquired through an MBA program.
The MBA program exponentially increased my ability to think critically and strategically as well as enhanced my skill sets and time management capabilities. In addition, I have gained an invaluable network of colleagues. There is no shortage of Tuckies who are willing to help out, in any way they can, other Tuckies.
How does Mergers & Acquisitions compare to equities trading?
There is no real comparison between M&A and equities trading. They are two totally different beasts. As an M&A Associate, you need to be exceptional at communication and meticulous at understanding the numbers that are driving valuation. In addition, you must totally understand the strategy behind the proposed combination or divestiture. On the other hand as a trader, you must be able to quickly calculate odds in your head and have the wherewithal to place your money on your calls.
What advice would you give our community members who want to do what you do?
Do your homework. You cannot be over prepared for any professional endeavor. Figure out what skills the job requires and be prepared to articulate how you have gained those skills and how you can apply them to whatever position you want. If the job requires skills you do not currently have, figure out a way to acquire them. Also, network with people in the industry and job function you are seeking. They will provide valuable insights into the job and may be aware of openings.
Among your peers in the industry, what do you see as the secret to their success in finding and keeping good jobs?
The most successful Investment Bankers are those who add value to their team and continually attempt to learn more so that they become an indispensable part of the team. The great thing about M&A is that no two transactions are the same so there is always the opportunity to educate yourself and provide unique insights into a potential transaction.
Regardless of current economic conditions, there will always be opportunities for talented young professionals to put their skills to use.
By challenging yourself to attain even greater achievements, you can find a career that will give you access to the means with which to pursue your passion.
Whatever path you choose, Doostang can put you in touch with hiring managers along the way.