WALL STREET EXEC: Don't get your MBA, learn how to think

If you want to be good at investing, getting your MBA isn’t nearly as important as learning how to think. 

That’s according to Bob Nolan Jr., managing partner of private equity firm Halyard Capital, who skipped business school and got a law degree instead.

Nolan, who manages more than $US600 million in media and communications investing-focused Halyard Capital, sat down with OneWire’s Skiddy von Stade to chat about the private equity market and what it takes to succeed as an investor.

“The broader your perspective, the more effective you are as an investor. So the background that you bring should be as broad as possible,” he said. “Law helped a little bit in that regard. Had I only been an investment banker, had I only been exposed to business school, I don’t know that that would have been enough.”

After completing his undergraduate degree in business at Georgetown University, Nolan accepted an offer from Columbia Business School — but made a last minute switch to Fordham Law School after his father talked him into the change.

And Nolan’s never regretted it.

“I also think undergrad degrees should be as broad as possible. I think the more skills you bring in terms of analytical ability, the better served you are as investor.” 

After Law School, Nolan went straight back into finance, spending nine years at Goldman Sachs’ Telecommunications, Media & Technology Group. He then worked at UBS Securities’ Telecommunications Group and CIBC World Markets’ Media & Telecommunications Group Investment Banking as Managing Director.

Nolan said he also got a broad education in human behaviour from being the sixth in a seven-child family.

“The benefit to being… at the tail end of the family is you get to observe all forms of behaviour,” he said. “You get to pick from all forms of behaviour, those types that will be effective in the rest of your life.” 

So the take away here is learn as much as you can, from anywhere you can.

Watch the video on OneWire here

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