Since its inception in 2013, Northeastern University’s annual Collegiate Alternative Investment Summit has attracted hundreds of students and inspired the creation of a new course in hedge funds, real assets, and private equity.
The conference is organized by a group of students in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, who work year-round to bring some of the industry’s biggest players to campus for talks, panel discussions, and networking sessions. Its goal is to bridge the gap between classroom education and professional application, according to summit co-presidents Rohan Venkatesh and Jake Fulton, both DMSB’16.
“Alternatives are a growing asset class around the world and have ties to whatever any business student is studying,” Venkatesh explained. As Fulton put it, “Alternative investments are becoming more and more popular within portfolios and have been making their way into the mainstream.”
The fourth annual conference—a two-day event for which the registration fee is $30—will be held on Friday and Saturday. Due to the summit team’s diligent work over the past 12 months, more than a dozen guest speakers will be providing insight into their respective fields, including Ryan Cotton, the managing director at Bain Capital, Gary Bergstrom, founder of Acadian Asset Management, and James Goodman, president of Gemini Investors.
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—will be held on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Alumni Center. The discussion will shed light on life in the alternative investments sector, with a particular focus on how the panelists broke into the industry. The second part—a series of talks and panel discussions on topics ranging from venture capital to real estate investing—will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 20 West Village F.
Both panel discussions will be moderated by Nicole Boyson, associate professor of finance and the summit’s faculty advisor. She was so inspired by the success of past conferences that she launched an alternative investments course this spring, designing different versions of the class for undergraduate and graduate students alike.
“Based on the interest and attendance at the conference, I knew that students would be interested in a course on the topic,” said Boyson, a hedge fund expert. “I thought that a class covering real assets, hedge funds, private equity, and structured products would be helpful for our students, because these areas are growing both in assets and in opportunities, and because I want students to have an in-depth understanding of the alternatives space.”
Fulton and Venkatesh noted that working to organize the summit—and co-chairing other events, like the Seeking Alpha Stock Pitch Competition—have further motivated them to pursue careers in the financial sector. Both students, who will graduate in May, have already lined up full-time jobs, Fulton as a wealth management analyst and Venkatesh as an investment banking analyst.
“Working on the summit further cultivated my interests in the alternative investments sector,” Venkatesh explained. “When I joined as a rising junior, I was still figuring out what I wanted to do and found that private equity was a very attractive field.”
Noted Fulton: “Being part of this organization allowed me to grow as a student and a young professional. I’m bummed out that I have to graduate and pass this off.”