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Students to host 5th annual Alternative Investment Summit

Photo by iStock.

Alternative investments—namely hedge funds, private equity, and real assets such as gold, oil, and agricultural land—have become increasingly popular in recent years.

It was with this in mind that a group of Northeastern students in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business created the Collegiate Alternative Investment Summit in 2013.

“It is imperative that we continue to help educate the next generation of young, aspiring investment professionals and provide them with the necessary tools to navigate through today’s financial markets,” said summit co-president Cole Weppner, DMSB’17. “We believe exposure to alternative investment professionals, their expertise, and their experiences is an extraordinary way to inform students of the opportunities available to them in a style that may not be possible in the classroom.”

The fifth annual conference—a two-day event for which registration is now closed due to popular demand—will be held on Friday and Saturday. As a result of the summit team’s diligent work over the past 12 months, 20 guest speakers will be providing insight into their respective fields, including Jacen Dinoff, the cofounder and CEO of the KCP Advisory Group, Derek Lister, a mergers and acquisitions analyst for Harvard Management Company, and Asha Mehta, a portfolio manager for Acadian Asset Management.

Many guest speakers have strong Northeastern connections, both past and present. Two such speakers—Richard D’Amore, BA’76, a co-founder and general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, and Alan McKim, MBA’88, founder and CEO of Clean Harbors—gifted the university $60 million in 2012 to name the business school.

I think my involvement with the summit was a fantastic opportunity to bring together my experience in private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds before the end of my time at Northeastern. It has solidified my desire to work in an alternative investments field.

Cole Weppner co-president of the Collegiate Alternative Investment Summit

The event will be divided into two parts. The first part—a panel-style Q&A with four D’Amore-McKim alumni working in the alternatives space and a fireside chat between D’Amore and Fran Janis, the founding partner of Pomona Capital—will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Alumni Center. The second part—a series of talks and panel discussions on topics ranging from merger arbitrage to turnaround management—will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 20 West Village F.

Two alumni—Ted English, BS’76, executive chairman of Bob’s Discount Furniture, and Henry Nasella, UC’77, H’08, chairman of the Board of Trustees and cofounder of LNK Partners—will deliver the conference keynote on private equity. McKim will be part of a three-person panel on investing in sustainability.

“We could not be more excited to hear from each and every one of our speakers,” said Weppner, who framed the summit as an educational tool for students looking to carve out careers in everything from finance to entrepreneurship. “Students with an entrepreneurial drive may benefit from a better understanding of private equity and venture capital when creating their own products and showcasing them for investors,” he explained. “And students interested in the stock market may look to our featured hedge fund experts for knowledge or inspiration for a future career in investments.”

Weppner—who graduated in December with a combined degree in mathematics and business administration—noted that working to organize the summit further motivated him to pursue a career in the financial sector. He did his co-ops at John Hancock Financial Services, Brookside Mezzanine Partners, and GMO, a global investment management firm where he’s currently working full time as a merger arbitrage research analyst.

“I think my involvement with the summit was a fantastic opportunity to bring together my experience in private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds before the end of my time at Northeastern,” he explained. “It has solidified my desire to work in an alternative investments field and I am very much looking forward to the beginning of my career at GMO.”