Two of TFA’s long-time supporters, Dmitry and Rebecca Balyasny, invited students to visit Balyasny Asset Management. During the day, students learned the basics of finance, tried their hands at investing, and explored a new career path.
January 17, 2019
“We really appreciate that you’re here, and want you to know that this day is for you.” This is how Rebecca Balyasny welcomed a room full of high school students to Balyasny Asset Management (BAM), a global investment management firm. The students on the field trip were juniors and seniors from ACE Amandla Charter School, a school on Chicago’s South Side co-led by Teach For America alum Jennifer Kirmes (DC, ’05). “We decided to participate in this field trip because it provided us the opportunity to expose students to new careers and experiences,” says alum Kate Beazley (Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana, ’07), Director of College and Careers at Amandla. “This type of exposure is invaluable when helping students find their own path.”
BAM was founded by Rebecca’s husband, Dmitry Balyasny (Rebecca herself has made a career in finance over the past 20 years, working for top tier financial firms and now investing personally in private asset classes). “My husband Dmitry and I worked really hard in school, but we wanted to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rebecca shared with the students. “To understand ‘Why am I working so hard in calculus? Why am I reading this book in English class?’ This is why you’re here today, to expose you to one potential career path you could take.”
Dmitry founded the company in 2001. At the start of the day, Rebecca shared Dmitry’s story: how he immigrated to America with his family when he was seven, not being able to speak a word of English, and got his first job at a brokerage firm when he was paying his way through college. Now, BAM has over 600 employees and offices in Hong Kong, London, and New York. “He started with nothing, worked really hard throughout school, and was able to build this company,” Rebecca said.
The day began with the students getting a Finance 101 session, where the basic concepts of investing were broken down. They learned what an asset manager is and what the work of BAM looks like on a day-to-day basis. They then put what they learned into practice. A BAM staff member took them through an investing simulation where students were able to invest a set amount of money in domestic and international stocks, bonds or savings accounts. They then got to see how their money increased and decreased over the years.
The day finished with a career panel with several of BAM’s employees. Students asked about their backgrounds, how they got their start in finance, and what they liked best about their jobs. They also asked what advice each of the employees had for them as students. “Ask questions. Be curious. Learn new things. This will put you miles ahead of the competition,” said Matt Owens, a Middle Office Associate. “Opportunities aren’t knocking on your door – you have to go out and knock on doors to get access to opportunities,” shared Ashley Fisher, a Senior Business Development Specialist.
“It was nice to learn about investing in the stock market. It is something I've always wanted to learn about and BAM gave me that opportunity.”
The students left the day with a better understanding of the finance field, and a lot of great advice for the years ahead of them. "This experience was important to me because I’m the type of person who loves to spend money,” said Shaunette W., one of Amandla’s students. “But now, from the field trip, I’m learning how to save my money for the future.”
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is not intended to be investment advice and should not be used as such.