RealJobs: Nick Noel

Hello fellow Eagles and welcome to my work blog! My name is Nick Noel, BC ’07. I graduated from A&S where I received my B.A. in History. I am currently working as a Portfolio Analyst at an investment firm called Developing World Markets located just outside of NYC in Darien, CT.  If there’s anything I can say upfront about myself, my experience at BC and now as a working adult it’s this— in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life and how to get there, there is no such thing as a straight line. When I walked into BC, I was a self-declared Bio-Psych double major with a pre-medicine designation. I left as a History (almost Finance) major heading to a Wall St. trading floor in NYC. If I could do it all again I’d tell you I would have been an International Studies Major with a focus in Economic Development, and guess what? That probably would have led me towards a whole different set of experiences, and this blog would be about how those experiences brought me to the obvious choice of medical school and the regrets I have for not having realized so much sooner. Such is the irony of life, or at least my mine! Anyway, that’s the disclaimer. I don’t necessarily have a career path to describe to you but rather a story of how I got to where I am now and how those seeds got planted during my time on the heights.

This first post is going to talk a little bit about what I do now and throughout the week I’ll weave in the utterly fascinating story of how I ended up here, people, jobs and internships that helped me figure it out and of course the big role BC played.

Developing World Markets
Developing World Markets is an investment firm whose stated goal is to provide a bridge between economic development and the capital markets. We’re not just a SRI fund, and to describe I’ll use an analogy (please place your expectations in the basement for this). If you wanted to “go organic” you’d probably start by driving to Whole Foods. This is because Whole Foods markets itself as the premier organic foods retailer. But Whole Foods isn’t growing the food you end up buying; it’s choosing products from famers/producers that have had their produce certified as being in compliance with the standards that make organic foods, “organic”.

There are a lot of investment funds that work in a similar fashion as Whole Foods, i.e. offering investments that been certified as socially responsible. That isn’t DWM; we try to expand the scope of SRI. DWM is the farmer/producer in the sense that we create investment vehicles that are specifically designed to finance socially oriented investments. We’re also the certification crew as we are not only creating the investments but we’re also measuring the impact of those investments for our stakeholders. DWM’s bread-and-butter has historically been microfinance assets, but we’ve begun entering into other “adjacent spaces” such as small and medium enterprise lending (SME), water access projects, alternative energy, just to name a few. Our goal as a firm is to prove that commercially viable investments exist in the economic development space and committed professionals can do this effectively and sustainably for investors, service providers & the communities being impacted.

Ok—I think that covers all my obligatory marketing for this blog, so I’ll bring you all to my level, DWM Portfolio Analyst.

Jack of All Trades – Master of None
My role at DWM is very much a “catch-all” role. The firm developed from the top down, with senior partners devolving their responsibilities into new roles as the fund grew. The Portfolio Analyst role is in a lot of ways, the main entry point into the firm. It’s designed for someone with a few years of work experience in the same way that Private Equity firms usually only hire 2nd year investment banking analysts for their entry level roles. My role touches all the groups at DWM. I work with all the major teams at the fund – Capital Markets, OAS (Debt Team), Equity & Portfolio/Fund Management. My primary responsibility is doing analysis and reporting on our funds current investments, analyzing our country and currency exposures, measuring various types of market risk and presenting to our investment committees the results of that work. In this role, I’m involved in many aspects of the deal process, from beginning to end along with the ongoing work we do as a portfolio manager.

Ok, ok, ok. But what do you do?! As I’m writing this I remember being an undergrad at BC and reading all the job descriptions I’ve read for different internships –trading desks, sales research and the like. None of them ever really describe what you do when you hit the desk.  I guess if they put down: make copies, get coffee, check spreadsheets they might not get a lot of resumes. I’ve had my fair share of that which I’ll share with you—but I promise – the descriptions above really do encapsulate the work I need to get done over the course of my day. How it gets done is what I think undergrads/grads like you might gain some value from. That’s the details, and yes – you’re waiting it—the devil is in the details. The devil is in Every. Single. Damn. Detail. That you either catch or don’t’ catch. And Lord help ya if you don’t.

When you’re an analyst, details are your raison d’etre. Regardless of what anyone tells you about the merits and challenges of the job they are offering you—just remember— you’re being hired to fill in the details of someone else’s grand vision. The sooner you realize it, the better of you are. You’re there to get things done, learn how to get them done, why you chose one way over another – and realizing the skills that you need or don’t need to make your life easier or not as easy while you’re living in the weeds. Let me be clear, I don’t want to paint a horrific picture of what’s waiting for you after you graduate—that’s too cliché and doesn’t help you at all. I do want to tell you why the grunt work you’re currently preparing for will enable you to better understand how the visions and dreams of what you want to do make it to reality – nose to the grind stone work. (For now, and probably till you’re in your late twenties/thirties) Don’t listen to that tells you it’s a waste trying to be a “Jack of All Trades”. Trust me; it’s why you are at BC getting your degree. Whether you’re a history major, finance, communications or nursing, there isn’t a job that your boss won’t expect you to know how to do if they don’t know how to do it themselves. Life becomes a job of picking up the skills as you go along. College is your head start. What I can provide are examples of things I knew and didn’t know going into the working world– in terms of getting the job and “getting the job done”. It will be “must-haves” and “nevers” and “wish I knew that”. Standard fare—I can weave it into my life as an employee of DWM, and my previous jobs in finance & education, and my future career doing—who knows what! I hope you’ll enjoy.

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