A strong finance foundation combined with nerding out on tech – at Booth – one can have the best of the both worlds. Let tomorrow’s bankers tell you why being on the cusp of technology is so important these days.
In this edition of “More Than A Finance School“, we take a look at the union of technology and investment banking. Four bankers – Jonathan Fung, Stephanie Hsu, Irma Darmali and Richard Zhang – have deepened their understanding and interest in technology during their time at Booth. They’ll continue to explore their interests in post-Booth as well, merging technology with careers in finance. Recently, they attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Read more about their motivation to attend, and what they are seeing as the latest trends in technology, and why that’s important to future bankers.
Courtesy of UoC Graduate Council – Travel Fund
Name: Jonathan Fung
TBE: How did Booth strengthen your interest in tech?
JF: I’ve always been into gadgets and was one of those guys who lined up early for the Apple Watch. At Booth, my appreciation for tech has broadened in scope. As an accounting major, I’ve been able to appreciate how technology can affect valuation in unexpected ways. In Professor Minnis’ Financial Statement Analysis class, we performed an equity analysis for Under Armour, the sportswear manufacturer, and found that the stock traded at a particularly high multiple. We initially attributed this to its rapid top-line growth. Upon further research, another explanation was that the firm has positioned itself as a tech company—at the time, it has purchased several fitness tracking apps, and soon after, launched its HealthBox wearable bundle. It’s cool that even in a class that’s about accounting, we were able to understand contemporary business issues and big-picture corporate strategy.
When Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, was announced as one of the keynote speakers at CES back in October, I decided that I would like to see the new direction Under Armour is taking in person. At his keynote, Plank discussed how everything his company did was indeed in the technology space. Flanked by IMAX screens, a state-of-the-art sound system, and with the help of quarterback Tom Brady, Plank unveiled Under Armour’s newest technology: pajamas.
TBE: What was the coolest tech you saw at CES and why?
JF: Microsoft HoloLens. While many exhibitors had virtual reality (VR) demonstrations (which ranged from Minecraft-quality renderings in the basement of Tech West to fully-immersive aerial acrobatics experiences at Samsung’s huge space in the LVCC), the Intel booth offered a chance to try the top-of-the-line, still-in-development augmented/mixed reality (AR) platform. The relatively-basic demo only overlaid some matrix-esque graphics and technical info on a physical BMW i8 that was in front of us. But, from experiencing the technology firsthand, I could easily imagine the future of AR and how much further it can go beyond 2016’s top AR-application of catching Pokemon on your phone.
Name: Stephanie Hsu
TBE: As a banker, why do you care about technology?
SH: I graduated with an engineering degree and began my career in the tech industry before transitioning to finance at Booth. However, even after this transition, I continued to pursue my passion as an intern in tech banking. At Booth, I attend speaker events such as Stephanie Landry’s talk on the creation and launch of Amazon Prime Now. Traveling to CES, courtesy of Graduate Council’s Travel Fund, was an opportunity to immerse myself in tech beyond my past job and supplement my learning at Booth. In banking, I look forward to working on transactions that enhance growth and value of technology companies.
TBE: What was your biggest takeaway from CES?
SH: Everything at CES was eye opening. The most amazing part was seeing how more and more industries are getting into tech. Some of these industries include automobiles, beauty, health, baby products, and home appliances – it’s incredible how some industries that were not traditionally associated with technology are now integrating it into their products!
Name: Irma Darmali
TBE: How did Booth help spark your interest in tech?
ID: I was an econ undergrad and an asset manager thereafter so my exposure to tech was mostly as a casual observer. However, classes such as Commercializing Innovation and Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity showed me that technology is pervasive and a driving force behind transforming a range of industries. My internship focused on healthcare banking, where again I saw the applications of technology that are helping create efficiencies in a high-stakes industry. When I saw that health-related gadgets are strongly represented at CES this year, I decided to attend.
TBE: What are some trends you’ll be keep watching from your time at CES?
ID: The list of coolest tech could go on forever. Instead, what was interesting to me was the hyperfocus on understanding all aspects of our lives through data gathering and analysis. I saw demos of smart homes and buildings meters analyzing our power usage; smart shoes attempting to ascertain our muscle fatigueness; and smart cars that monitor driving patterns and driver alertness. All of these devices make up the large trend of the Internet-of-Things. Amazon’s Alexa, which seemed to be the chosen operating system for all IoT devices at this trade show, is looking to graduate from simply understanding our habits to anticipating our needs before we even know it. With all these available gadgets, I look forward to owning a smart refrigerator that minimizes my energy bill and stocks itself of my favorite foods!
Name: Richard Zhang
TBE: How did Booth help strengthen your interest in tech?
RZ: Taking part in the New Venture Challenge gave me a chance to see how innovative technology can be crafted into disruptive and sustainable business models. With technology cycles becoming shorter and shorter, I have come to understand the importance of staying up-to-date with these products, especially in the consumer space. Learning about these new products, whether from the technological or business standpoint, will help me as I transition into the venture space, which is my long-term goal. I was able to network and speak with many venture capitalists who are focused in the technology sector, and understand how they evaluate trends, what they are investing in at the moment, and what’s on the horizon in terms of a paradigm shift in technology.
TBE: What was the coolest tech you saw at CES?
RZ: 3D-printed cars. Divergent Technologies had a large exhibit showcasing their NODE technology, which allows them to create sturdy carbon fiber supercars at a fraction of the emissions required to build a traditional car. They are not selling cars per se (the car on exhibit was only a prototype to demonstrate their ability), but rather selling a platform for OEMs and even independent engineers to create their own vehicles. Their prototype vehicle is shown below: