IE University’s Darrald Webb and Bailey de Villiers were two of the multiple IE University students selected to participate in the Alternative Investments Conference 2020.
Bringing together 320 delegates and 40 senior-level industry luminaries, the Alternative Investments Conference is the world’s largest student conference on private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital.
Darrald—a member of the Consulting Club and Finance Club, and student of the Dual Degree in Business Administration and Laws—recognizes that IE University students form a community of avid career builders. He explains how being surrounded by like-minded, driven peers at events like the AIC is enriching his future.
Bailey on his side is currently the coordinator of the IE Coding Club and also a student of the Dual Degree in Business Administration and Law. Prior to IE University, he studied high school in Singapore.
Read on to learn more about his experience at this exclusive event held on February 3rd and 4th in London.
How would you explain the AIC to someone who hasn’t heard of it?
Darrald: The LSE SU AIC is a prestigious event that brings together hundreds of delegates—both undergraduates and graduates—and business leaders in investment banking, private equity, and hedge funds. It’s a chance to network with professionals and learn about the financial industry.
Bailey: The Alternative Investments Conference is a conference that revolves around up-and-coming trends, trading philosophies, opinions, and statistics on some of the market leaders in banking. The AIC is focused on private equity, hedge funds, and other alternative investment classes. The conference is divided into three key sections: The first being keynote speakers, where senior managers from companies such as Terra Firm, Oakley Capital, Man GLG, Skybridge, Bain Capital, and many more, share their current prospects on the investment market and generally end in a Q&A with the audience.
The second is breakout sessions, where the delegates of the LSEAIC can mix and mingle and get to know other like-minded individuals over a coffee or food. This also serves to break up the keynote speakers and helps everyone transition to the third section.
The third section consists of workshops that are application-only driven. Several companies host workshops simultaneously and you are assigned a room which you attend. I attended the workshops hosted by CPPIB, Goldman Sachs, PSP Investments, and Tikehau Capital.
The whole conference takes two days and allows you to meet individuals from dozens of different schools, education, and background. The AIC conference managers do a great job of selecting a diverse range of interesting delegates for this event, so every conversation is highly engaging.
How did you learn about the event and why were you interested in applying?
Darrald: I learned about the event from Talent and Careers Advisor, Carlos Diez Rodriguez. I was interested in applying because I saw the AIC as an opportunity to network for internships, get a better understanding of the financial industry, and visit London.
Bailey: I was informed by one of my friends, who I also went with to attend the event, Darrald Webb. I have a deep interest in entering banking in the future, but at the time I wasn’t sure into which field. I thought this conference would clear up some of the doubts I had, and through asking some questions to the speakers, as well as engaging with others, I managed to identify some areas I’d like to further delve into. Applying to the LSEAIC only required that a CV be submitted, and took some months before they confirmed your placement as a delegate.
How do you think your IE University experience and the support from the IE Talent & Careers team helped you get this opportunity or make the most of it?
Darrald: I have found that the majority of students at IE University are avid career builders. Learning in this type of environment has increased my exposure to events such as AIC and networking opportunities in general. Carlos Diez Rodriguez of the Careers team told me about the AIC as a great way to build my CV, specifically in the financial sector.
Bailey: Actually, I mentioned that I heard about the event from Darrald Webb, he heard it initially from Carlos Diez, Head of the Talent & Careers department. He recommended that we apply, and as a result we did. Once we were confirmed as delegates, we went and checked with him the value of the event and if it was really a worthwhile event to be missing quite a large portion of our classes. He confirmed that it would be, and I have no regrets and completely agree in terms of the value.
Carlos really went the extra mile by contacting some alumni on our behalf who would potentially be attending or in the area with who we could connect. He also answered all the other questions that we had in the meantime until the day of the conference.
What do you think are the benefits of participating in an event like this? What would you highlight about this experience?
Darrald: I think the main benefits from participating in an event like the AIC are the professional networking opportunities. These include meeting new business partners who are your own age or the possibility to quote a managing partner in a cover letter.
Bailey: Personally, this event helped clarify the interests I had in the industry. For example, I thought that I would be 100% committed to becoming an investment banking analyst and hopefully move up in the ranks, but stay within investment banking. What I’ve learned is that investment banking will be my first step into what I hope will become a Venture Capital (Private Equity) career, or even from there into technological consulting.
In general, I would say listening to individuals worth well over $1bn+ is an extreme privilege, and being able to ask them questions related to how they accomplished their success, and learn first hand from people of that caliber is an unrivaled advantage. The other delegates at the event are also highly interested in banking, and will very likely wind up being co-workers, or within the field nonetheless; plus many of them were genuinely interesting people.
A component I would highlight regarding the LSEAIC is the opportunity to ask speakers real, relevant questions that you are personally interested in. Having the opportunity to ask Eric Kim, Co-Founder of Goodwater Capital, “How did you go from your purely technical background into a portfolio management position? What were some skill deficits you identified and things you would recommend people that are in that situation work on in advance?” While I am by no means someone with deep technical background, it was a question I was genuinely interested in and in return I received a response from Mr. Kim which was highly informative and genuine.
What would you say to other students interested in attending future editions?
Darrald: I would undoubtedly recommend an event like AIC to any student interested in investment banking, private equity, or hedge funds. Apart from learning about the financial sector, you will be given the opportunity to network with global business leaders and get a better understanding of the career path that is right for you.
Bailey: If you’re interested in getting into the world of Banking, either as someone who already has practical experience or someone who is vaguely interested in the field, I would highly recommend it. Having shaken the hand of someone like Marc Boheim, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs’ PE branch, I have no fear going into bigger and bigger rooms with bigger and bigger names; and I’m no exception, everyone at the LSEAIC had the opportunity to engage with highly decorated businessmen. There’s also the networking aspect, which was valuable enough to be considered a reason to go in itself.
Coming to IE University from the United States, Darrald has certainly been making the most of his learning journey with us. We are proud of students like him who are working hard to fulfill their dreams because their drive and motivation is part of what makes our community great.