00:00:08 Hannah Skaran
Hi, my name is Hannah's Karen and you're listening to U Chicago in real life where I interview real students doing real things at U Chicago.
00:00:17 Hannah Skaran
Today I'll be speaking with Brian. He's an econ major in the college and he's talking to me about Maroon Capital.
00:00:23 Hannah Skaran
New Chicago's leading quantitative focused finance RSO with an aim to provide education, career and networking resources for its members should be a lot of fun, so let's dive right in.
00:00:35 Hannah Skaran
Thank you so much for joining us on U Chicago in real life. If you could just introduce yourself with your name, your year and your major.
Yeah, my name is Brian. I am currently a junior and I'm studying economics with a minor in philosophy and on campus. In addition to being involved with the admissions office, I am involved in a few different clubs.
I did a lot of work with model UN in my first two years, and I've also been involved with Green Capital, which is a finance oriented organization which we call ourselves registered student organizations sense.
00:01:07 Hannah Skaran
The second year. Very cool. OK so.
00:01:10 Hannah Skaran
I know you're involved in in a bunch of different rsos. I'm sort of the econ business finance side.
00:01:16 Hannah Skaran
I'd love to go really in depth on just one of these so students can get a sense so I know this is sort of a hard choice to make, but if you had to pick one to talk about or.
00:01:27 Hannah Skaran
Is the one that you spend the most time doing that we could dive into a little bit more? Which one do you think that would be?
Yeah, definitely. I think that Moon capital would be the the club that that has helped me the most on my journey and as well as the one that I think I can speak the best to.
00:01:42 Hannah Skaran
OK, awesome. Well I'm excited to hear about it. Uh, why don't you just start by telling us a little bit about what marine capital is and how you came to be a?
00:01:50 Hannah Skaran
Part of it, yeah, absolutely.
00:01:50 Hannah Skaran
Part of it.
Yeah, absolutely Murray capital. I would best describe as an educational but also professional organization dedicated to teaching students about different roles in the finance industry.
I know that a lot of students go into college thinking that they want to, you know, have a future in business, maybe get some internship.
Tips in different kinds of like economics related or finance related fields, and I think especially because a lot of high school students have this interest.
That's why there's so many different clubs at Uchicago, devoted to both finance economics, and in that kind of more like business leading industry. And I think that the best part about Maroon Capital is that it they assume that.
You don't know anything at all. There's no prerequisite that you have to have had any internships already. You don't have to have.
You don't even need to be an econ major, it's open for students of any, any background who just.
Have an interest in learning more about the financial services industry and about finance in general, and I think the best thing that they look for is for students to be passionate and who really want to learn, which I think most students at Uchicago already like that.
So it's a great culture I think, and the the main draw of the club for me was that it had two different components. One was more for quantitative.
Style analysis so for students who are more interested in actually being traders in working potentially for like a hedge fund where they're going to have to do a lot of quantitative analysis.
And then the other side of the club would be the fundamental side, which is more for students interested in a career in things like private equity or investment banking, where you're not doing so much quantitative analysis, but you're looking at the fundamental financial analysis by looking at like the financial statements and other ways of evaluating different companies.
00:03:24 Hannah Skaran
Wow, that's that really touches on a lot of different subjects. I didn't realize that the scope was so big, I'm curious.
00:03:31 Hannah Skaran
What what sort of side of that organization do you participate in the most?
Yeah, I. I joined the fundamental side just because I thought that it would be a lot more interesting to learn about the kinds of different tools that our various businesses and analysts in in the real world will use to evaluate different companies.
And I think the the best thing was that in the end of my second year we actually had a project too.
Pretend to do a merger model between two companies.
Uh, where you would just choose with your team of around five students for one company to either merge with another company or to just completely acquire a separate company as well, and you could choose one of the two and then you would actually try to model it and try to mimic what analysts would do at banks around around the country when when they have these kinds of deals and it was just.
Really interesting and informative project that took the entire quarter. So it was like a ten week long Capstone project.
00:04:25 Hannah Skaran
Basically, yeah, and it just culminates in what we learned in that in that 'cause I joined in my second year. So they.
It was when I was a second year and it really just showed what you learned throughout the different quarters when you were first in the club, like the first quarter and the second quarter really dedicated to teaching you a lot of basics, giving you a lot of different modules.
They invite guest speakers, especially like recent alumni who are working at those various firms, and it's just a lot of a lot of information. But then in that third quarter, when you get to apply it.
I think it's really, really rewarding.
00:04:53 Hannah Skaran
How did your merger go and did you do it with like real companies or were these like made up companies?
Yeah, we we.
Used real companies where you could just look online, find their financial information that they have to post as required by regulators.
So the group I did, we looked at FedEx, which is one of the leading logistics and shipping companies, and we thought that they could purchase.
It's called Atlas Airlines, which I'm assuming most people don't know about because it's a really much smaller company that was focused a little bit on like commercial flights and a little bit on like cargo shipping as well.
And we thought that FedEx could try to incorporate them into its own fleet and have a even larger fleet of airplanes at it.
Disposal for shipping packages. Because that's their main line of business.
00:05:42 Hannah Skaran
So you mentioned that you joined your second year. How did you hear about Marine capital and and what sort of drew you in to starting? Still pretty early on in your college experience.
Definitely. I think that in my first year I wouldn't have been able to say I really want to go into finance. I I was really just really open to anything I consider being.
On like a pre law track and joining like different organizations that are that are like more geared towards that.
I also had one point considered becoming a made in computer science and maybe trying to work in the tech field.
So in my freshman year, I really was undecided and I think that that's really a great thing. I think it's really nice for students able to come in with kind of like a blank slate and and just try to absorb as much information as they can.
Talking to you know, leaders in various clubs, all their students in their house, people they meet in classes, even their professors who all have a lot of insight to give.
And so as a first year I I wouldn't even have considered it. I probably didn't even know what Maroon Capital was just because I wasn't interested in the field. But then after my first year summer, I.
Realize that yeah, going into like a more business financing role with something that I'm interested in, and so I decided to just talk to older students, especially people in my house.
There was a fourth year during my first year named Jerry, who had a lot of really awesome insights about different clubs that I could join. She knew all the various ones you could apply to and, and that were geared towards.
Particular and so just talking with her, it was able to give me a lot of information on the kinds of clubs that I could look at for my second year, which is when then I would apply.
And then what was really helpful for getting into marine capital for me were just talking to people who either were in the club or new people in the club just to reach out and make connection and see what it was like and whether or not I would fit in with the club and then just getting to know them. I think also really helped.
During my application because then it was more of like I was a familiar face and I wasn't someone who was brand new.
00:07:31 Hannah Skaran
That makes sense and I totally, as an alum totally understand the experience of of getting some help from the older members of your house.
00:07:38 Hannah Skaran
I know a lot of people find that really helpful, so you did mention that there is an application process to join.
00:07:44 Hannah Skaran
Could you talk us through what that application looks like and sort of the scope? Like how many members are are?
00:07:51 Hannah Skaran
In this group.
I think that in total there's around maybe 50 or so people with around 25 students in each of the quantitative and the fundamental halves of the club.
Some 25 or I I say 50 like Members. Obviously the club itself has like people in leadership. The older students in previous years who are helping to lead the club.
So I think overall you would have maybe around like 6065 people just including all the older older students as well who are helping out with running the club and like providing the the core structure.
Essentially, and organizing what happened in.
Meeting, and I think that the application process was pretty straightforward. It was they asked you to fill out a.
I think it was just like a Google form where you drop your resume your basic information. Like you know your name, your email, what year you are and then there were a few questions as well.
Like why are you interested in? What do you hope to get out of the club, which I think are pretty standard across many different organizations?
And then they also held I remember kind of like an office hour sessions during the application cycle, which was I think the first week of the first quarter in the fall, and so before the application is due.
They held like an office hours event where you could go in and meet with one of the older students who is a part of the leadership and look over your resume. See how you could.
Touch it up, make it better because I know a lot of students just coming in, especially for the incoming first years.
They might not even have a resume because it's not really needed in high school, and so they would help you with making one and giving you various templates that would look professional and would help you with your applications.
I think that was a really nice thing that they did and really helped a lot of students who maybe.
One is confident or or as knowledgeable in the field and I think yeah, it's not about like.
I, I think the most important thing isn't about like what you already know, but showing that you're there to learn and that you really want to be able to give back to this organization and participate and contribute and and be a Member that everyone likes and enjoys working with. I think that's what they really.
00:09:45 Hannah Skaran
Yeah, no. That that makes a lot of sense so.
00:09:49 Hannah Skaran
You you've talked a lot about, sort of the.
00:09:53 Hannah Skaran
Coming prepared to learn and that there's there's definitely a professional development aspect to this organization. It seems like that's really an emphasis.
00:10:01 Hannah Skaran
Would you say that there's a more social element to it as well, or would you say it's more strictly like a professional development oriented group?
Yeah, I, I don't think that it's strictly professionally oriented at all. I think that in terms of like how, how much like social interaction you get with the people you meet, I think that's really up to individual Members.
I I, I think it's definitely possible for someone to join like who who doesn't really pay attention to that kind of social aspect, and they really just focus on like the materials.
00:10:21 Hannah Skaran
To meetings, and I think that they would really be missing out because especially towards the that third quarter when you're working on that big project, it's really great to be able to make friends and have a group of people that you already know so that you can work together.
I think that's much better than working in a random group that you're assigned to because you know, knowing the people you're working with, it's you're able to keep each other more responsible.
00:10:46 Hannah Skaran
Make sure everyone is doing their work and it's also just, I think, more fun and and really.
Helps build your skills in teamwork, leadership and delegation, and I think that yeah, so so during those first two quarters is getting to know people, maybe even forming piece set groups with them if they're in similar classes as you, especially for the first years.
00:11:05 Hannah Skaran
A lot of them tend to share very similar classes, so I think that being able to make friends and and you know form study groups.
It's a great opportunity. I think that yeah, it would be something that would be that would be missing if students weren't like actively looking for it.
00:11:25 Hannah Skaran
Right OK, good, well, I'm glad you all are having fun over there. That's that's important as well. How frequently do you all meet also?
Yeah, the meetings are once or twice a week depending on if there's any additional events, like a like a speaker who's invited, but usually it's once a week.
I think the meetings were either an hour or 90 minutes. I can't really remember, but it was just yeah, it's not a huge time commitment, the.
Biggest like time commitment is just being responsible and doing the work that is assigned. If there is any. Sometimes it would give us like a small like homework set, essentially just to reinforce concepts covered in the meetings or they would give us things to read up about so that we could be prepared when we come to the next discussion next week.
00:12:05 Hannah Skaran
OK, that makes sense.
Yeah, I think it's really like.
Many other clubs where you get out of it what you put into it, and I know that a lot of students are really, really passionate, so they really get a lot out of their clubs.
00:12:12 Hannah Skaran
And by going above and beyond what like is expected of them for for each weekly meeting. So I think that that applies to pretty much every club, I would say.
00:12:22 Hannah Skaran
Right, yeah, definitely. I think we've done a lot of these interviews and we get that one a lot for sure.
00:12:29 Hannah Skaran
So you've talked a little bit about when you first came to campus. You were sort of trying to figure out, do you want to go the pre law track?
00:12:36 Hannah Skaran
Do you want to go the econ track like figuring out sort of where your path was going to take you, but.
00:12:43 Hannah Skaran
What was your background when it came to stuff like finance prior to college? Or you know what? If you didn't have any prior to college, what did you do in your first year? That sort of prepped you for this kind of experience.
Yeah, absolutely. I think that before college I would have said I, I would say I had no experience really.
I mean, I, I saw the movie The Big Short which was really entertaining, but I didn't really understand anything they were talking about and and it wasn't something that I had really considered as a potential field for me to go into.
So, so I I guess I didn't really pay much attention to it, and I think that for me the.
The watershed moment was actually going to be. I think it was either late spring or like early in the summer.
Of my first year when I actually went on a trek to it was Oakland, CA and this was the entrepreneurship track.
But I think the great thing about it is that it wasn't like just pure entrepreneurship. I think it blended aspects of finance and business as well.
Just because we visited various different organizations, like for example we visit Deloitte, which is very far from us.
00:13:36 Hannah Skaran
Startup, I wouldn't say that's very like entrepreneurial, even though they work with a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of startup companies, it's more like a consulting vibe with like kind of like economic and managerial consulting and that kind of really introduced me to like what it means to work in business. What finance is about the kinds of.
Uhm, jobs that people would have just just talking to the speakers. They're asking them questions and listening to their presentation as well.
And this was organized by the actual, uh, I think it's the career Advancement offices is what it's called in and they would host trekstor at the year where you sign up for it.
You write a cover letter. You give the resume, and then if you're selected you get to go on this like one or two day.
Visit to a major city and it's not just for business as well, they have them for various industries as well. I know that they have one for like biotech.
That goes to, I believe, Atlanta, and I think you visit the CC as well for that track. They have ones that go to Seattle and that's like focus on tech like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, those type of companies.
00:14:30 Hannah Skaran
So it really is geared towards any kind of interest, any kind of industry that students are interested in, and business and finance is just one of them. That's pretty popular, so there are a lot of tricks.
They go throughout the year to make major hubs. San Francisco, New York, Houston. Things like that.
00:14:52 Hannah Skaran
Would you say that your experience so you're saying like we didn't come in with a big background in finance, but you, you found ways to sort of explore that interest of yours?
00:15:02 Hannah Skaran
Would you say that that's typical of people in Maroon capital? Or would you say that most people come in with some kind of background already?
00:15:09 Hannah Skaran
Or is there a pretty wide mix of what people already know? What's what's the vibe in that sense?
Yeah, I think there is a pretty good mix. I know there's certainly some freshmen who come in knowing exactly what they want to do.
Like oh, I want to work in private equity. I want to work in venture capital. I'm I'm going to do this this, this and that to make sure I'm really well prepared for for when the recruiting season begins and I think there's also a lot of freshmen to come in.
00:15:19 Hannah Skaran
Who like me who who thought they would do one thing and then they change their major. They change their career plans and I think that's super common and and definitely nothing wrong with that at all.
I think that college is really a defining moment in one life and and the the amount of things you learn it.
It's just so incredible that it would be impossible for me to say that I I could even have hoped to know what I wanted to do.
For example, for like the next 10 years of my life when I was still 18 and in high school, so I think that having those experiences just talking to older students.
Talking to friends as well, hearing like their interest in what they want to go into. Even professors who have had like thousands of 1000 students come through their classrooms and whom they've advised and gotten to get to know better.
There's so many resources to help you decide on what it is you want to do that I think there's absolutely no disadvantage if you're a high school student and you.
Don't know exactly what it is you want to do. I think that that's very normal and I'd say that that's actually probably the majority.
I think it it's going to be the minority of students who know absolutely they want to go into a specific industry, the 2nd that they're on campus.
00:16:31 Hannah Skaran
OK yeah, that makes sense. I think it's so common to show up as a freshman and assume that everyone else already knows everything and you're really behind.
00:16:39 Hannah Skaran
But I think the reality most of the time is that everyone is. It's normal to not be fully versed in finance. Before you show up to college to learn about finance because that's why you can't because you didn't.
00:16:51 Hannah Skaran
I already know I. I did want to circle back and touch on you talked about how your experience kind of culminates in this capstone.
00:17:03 Hannah Skaran
When you're talking about the merger, what happens after you like graduate from that course? What does your involvement look like at that point?
Yeah, I think that the some students who I think that there are always a number of students who like kind of just realize that this isn't as as interesting as they thought.
Or maybe they thought that you know the fundamentals section isn't what I'm as interested in. So then they move over to the other side for the next year. And maybe they they find a match and they're really interested in the quantitative.
Field of fields of Finance, which is also very broad as well, and I think that that's really excellent for the students who realize that you know, maybe this isn't for me because.
I I think that yeah, not, not everyone ultimately finds an interest or realizes after going through the the project that this kind of work which is going to be really common for students who do go full time into the banking and private equity fields of business that is going to be a lot of what they're doing. Various types of analysis on companies, their cash.
Flows how they're evaluated, so I think.
That not everyone ultimately realize that's what they want to do, and then they can switch, or some people leave the club.
If that happens, and I think that that's just, you know, as people grow, and as they learn more about what they want to do and what different industries are like, it's totally normal for students to realize that. You know, maybe this isn't as interesting as I thought, but I think most of the students who still are really passionate about it.
And interested in it can then apply to be like members of the leadership for the next year where they can help organize the session.
00:18:27 Hannah Skaran
Options and help plan like what they're going to teach. Invite speakers and then yeah, make sure that everything runs smoothly for the next year of incoming first and second years, which is really what the club is geared towards.
So I think yeah, the 3rd and 4th year students are going to be people who are on the leadership and you don't really have many third or fourth tuitions coming in as like a a member of the club.
00:18:39 Hannah Skaran
Learn it and participate in the activities.
00:18:51 Hannah Skaran
Gotcha, OK, that makes sense. That's it's cool that you guys can still be involved even after you've gone through the course.
00:18:57 Hannah Skaran
But in more I had a question I wanted to ask. It's sort of unrelated, but I I find that a lot of people have interesting answers to this. Has there been a moment?
00:19:08 Hannah Skaran
Where there was like a cool like synergy or coincidence between like something you were learning about or experiencing in your classes and something that was happening in your club.
I, I think that probably the most.
Uh, relevant classes that I've taken would be the ones for the econ major, for example.
Pull up like my econ the the I think it's the two hundreds from 200 to 202.
00:19:29 Hannah Skaran
That's like the main core series. I think it's called like elements of economic analysis, and I think that one really cool thing that we we talked about in. I believe it was winter, so the second quarter we touched.
And game theory, which is I think, a pretty common topic for economics and especially in microeconomics. And like how different firms decide how to like structure their prices or their their supply to compete with other firms in in that field. And I think that that kind of like.
Very intro level discussion of game theory which lasted one week, so for two different classes, because game theory is such a such a wide field that it would be impossible to cover it in depth. So it was like a very rudimentary.
Level analysis of game theory, but then we were. We were thinking about it too during our analysis of FedEx.
We were like, why did FedEx choose to, for example, have their hub here, or like why did they decide to purchase these many planes?
Why not just like try to compete with with more planes and then try to out number the the?
Competitors and things like that.
And it's really, I think, applicable, even though it's not like as academic game theory, it's not like the types of problems we had in class where you pretty much have all the variables you have.
All of the information in the real world obviously that never happens, but I think that the basics are there like why FedEx chooses these specific pricing models and why they choose.
To distribute their hubs and their planes at specific geographic locations across the country. I think it is a very similar style of thinking to game theory.
00:21:13 Hannah Skaran
Very interesting. OK, yeah I I think that's great that you're like getting to practice basically real-world applications of what you're learning in class before you're even really getting out into the real world.
00:21:23 Hannah Skaran
So that's probably very nice. That will probably help you a lot. Brian, what would you say is the most misunderstood thing about working in finance?
I think that.
For me, the most misunderstood thing that that I had was I thought that finance just meant people who were trading stocks like the stock market like Wall Street.
You see, especially with like the recent events with like GameStop, the markets were being moved essentially by online users. I I thought that that was pretty much the gist of finance.
Like the market is being moved by various people with a lot of wealth. Stocks go up, stocks go down, but I I couldn't have been more wrong. There are so many different other aspects like bankers, investment banking in particular doesn't really deal with.
Buying and selling stocks at all. They're they're dealing with, like how do you value a company? How do you sell it or merge it with another company?
What happens to the newly created company and then private equity is all about buying smaller private companies, investing in them, getting a share of of like the the ownership and then.
Potentially selling that company back in the future or taking it.
Public, which then kind of involves the stock market as well, because it becomes a publicly traded stock. But there's so much to finance.
It's not just trading stocks, selling stocks, things like that and it was really something that I hadn't considered before.
But I think that you know that's like, I guess the more glamorous part like nobody really wants to talk about, you know, investment bankers spending.
80 hours a week? That's not like a fun topic than just spending all the time in the office doing various types of models.
Whereas you know people like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Wolf of Wall Street screaming to, you know, by this by that sell this, all that make a lot of money.
You live on a yacht that's cool, that's glamorous, so I think that's the image. A lot of people get, especially in high.
It's cool, but that's really just one small part of the overall industry, and that's not what everyone is doing.
But there are certainly lots of people are interested in that kind of the trading quantitative finance. Working. As you know, a trader for either like a proprietary firm or at like a large market maker, or helping other trades go through. That certainly is.
00:23:17 Hannah Skaran
Something that a lot of teams are interested in. There's a lot of different clubs, including the quantitative part of marine capital that that really facilitates students to get more information about that that type of industry.
00:23:37 Hannah Skaran
I have another fun question for you so.
00:23:41 Hannah Skaran
Well, since you have a background in in finance and econ and trading things like that, I was an English major. If you can't tell.
00:23:51 Hannah Skaran
Let's I'm going to pose a situation for you. So let's say I give you a paper clip.
00:23:56 Hannah Skaran
How fast would you be able to trade that paper? Clip up to a house? Do you think?
00:24:03 Hannah Skaran
And can I have the house?
00:24:05 Hannah Skaran
After you tried traded up too.
Right, yeah, as I said I I think I can think of the type of student that I've met that would be just exceptionally good at this.
I I can think of like people who could probably do it within a year. Maybe like maybe even within a month.
00:24:17 Hannah Skaran
00:24:17 Hannah Skaran
Maybe a little more difficult but but I can I. I can think of like the exact kind of student who just really good at that and really like good at.
Convincing you that the product they have is something that you need and that you know they're getting ripped off.
Selling it to your trading it too and I think that that I think I would be very, very terrible at at such control.
00:24:35 Hannah Skaran
I think that I I couldn't sell I I couldn't even sell Lamborghini if I had one. I think I'm just glad that and marketing I think.
00:24:40 Hannah Skaran
So for me, I think it would take me just years and years. I probably wouldn't even be able to get it past the paper clip.
But yeah, I know that there are definitely people I've met who just have that kind of like, really, really gung ho attitude.
Really good at, you know. Convincing you very personable. Just like people that you think wow when they talk I just I just gotta listen.
Just so interesting, I think that that's certainly someone who could could sell you a purple equipment and trade it up eventually. For something like a house.
00:25:11 Hannah Skaran
Hey, you know?
00:25:12 Hannah Skaran
Thank you for being honest about that and and that's OK you you can take your time getting me that house. So don't you worry about it.
00:25:20 Hannah Skaran
Uh, last question for you. What's your favorite space in CA?
I I really like the uh, in the second floor outside of.
I don't remember the number, but there's like this kind of like hidden hallway outside one of the one of the.
Classrooms on the 2nd floor that has a bunch of tables lined up and it's near windows as well. So like, especially in the spring in the summer when it's really nice, you get the you get the sun flowing in through these windows. I I I don't remember there. It might be one or 209 or like.
208 or something, but it's one of the second floor classrooms. Really large present as well. Yeah, it's just one of the hallways outside.
00:25:55 Hannah Skaran
I I know the area you're talking about. Yeah, it's very pretty. You got those big windows.
There's tables there you can eat there, and there's a Starbucks inside as well inside. So you, you know if you order something, get a coffee so that the table do your work. Work on peace that's quietly with other students. It's really just a it's a really chill space.
Really beautiful, amazing to do work and just absolutely my favorite spot. And it's like pretty hidden too. Like not everyone knows about it like on the 1st floor.
There's a lot of tables as well, but they're usually pretty crowded 'cause you know everyone flocks there. The table. That said, the Starbucks are also usually full, but like this space buried.
00:26:29 Hannah Skaran
Thank you for that and for those of you listening, Psy Hall is home to our Department of Economics, which is why I was curious.
00:26:35 Hannah Skaran
And if you ever get the chance to go to campus, it's a very beautiful building. Lots of lots of stained glass and Gothic architecture, so that's a lot of fun.
It is, it is amazing, yeah.
00:26:44 Hannah Skaran
All right, I think that wraps up all the questions I have, so Brian thank you so much for joining me on U Chicago in real Life today.
Thank you so much for having me.