Hernandez, Lipscomb Win 2015 DFE Leadership Award

Hernandez, Lipscomb Win 2015 DFE Leadership Award

09 June 2015 4:13PM

The Duke Financial Economics Center’s (DFE) Leadership Award was created to recognize seniors who have made a significant impact while participating in DFE and other finance-related activities at Duke. They represent qualities that made them leaders on campus and will serve them well in their post-Duke lives: initiative, collegiality, professionalism, and a passion for learning. 

The 2015 awardees are Tony Hernandez and Max Lipscomb. Both have dedicated generous amounts of time to working with underclassmen, Tony through his engagement with underrepresented minority students, and Max though his involvement with the Duke Investment Club. DFE Academic Director Emma Rasiel remarked, “Tony and Max’s efforts have fostered the culture of mentoring that is one of Duke's strongest characteristics.”

We asked them some questions, and their answers shed light on why they made such a positive impression on the DFE and their fellow students. Congratulations and good luck, Tony and Max! 

What is your major/minor/concentration?

Tony: Double major in public 0olicy (with an economic policy concentration) and religion

Max: Double major in economics and computer science 

When did your interest in finance begin — while at Duke or prior to college? What sparked it?

Tony: I only had a vague idea of what finance was during high school. After a very challenging first semester at Duke, I asked a senior for guidance, and she recommended that I attend the Diversity Outreach Reading Group to learn more about the financial markets. That is when several upperclassmen (including past FEP Leadership Award winners, Monique Barrios and Esosa Osa!) started to mentor me through the recruiting process and taught me about the financial markets.

Max: After my first year at Duke, I was relatively set on a career in technology. I initially found investing to be interesting, but I grew up around technology companies and hadn't fully conceptualized all of the opportunities available within finance. I really credit Emma Rasiel's Global Capital Markets class with broadening my view and encouraging me to go all in on a financial services job post-graduation. 

What finance-related activities (DFE and non-DFE) have you been involved with while at Duke?

Tony: I have been a member of the Diversity Outreach Reading Group since my freshman year and served as a senior mentor this year. I was also heavily involved in the DFE competitions since my sophomore year. Outside of DFE, I was the Vice President of Mentorship (senior year) and Secretary of the Duke Business Society (junior year).

Max: I definitely did competitions and participated in a trading challenge with Cacc [John Caccavale], but almost 95% of my DFE-related time has been put towards the Investment Club. I've been very lucky to be a co-president of the club for the past two years and have really enjoyed watching the group grow and prosper. I also want to take the chance to applaud my co-president, Zhou Fang, who has done an incredible job over the course of the past year. The group wouldn't be the same without him, and I know he has put his heart and soul into it over the course of his time at Duke. I'll miss working with him as we move on to different companies in a couple of months. 

Of all the contributions you have made through these activities, what are you proudest of?

Tony: Serving as senior mentor and leader of the Diversity Outreach Reading Group and Vice President of Mentorship for DBS have been extremely rewarding experiences that I am very proud of. I had the opportunity to help students of all backgrounds as they developed their interest in finance and the business world. Through these two roles I was able to give back after receiving so much mentorship myself.

Max: My most longstanding contribution is likely the creation of the Student Investment Club Endowment Fund, which was formed via an order from President Brodhead after about 8 months of lobbying and structuring efforts. The fund is a $50,000 portion of the Duke Endowment that is managed by the Investment Club in coordination with DUMAC and Duke's Treasury Department. I hope it will provide a permanent outlet for Duke's finance students to pursue investing and learn from one another.  

When did you first hear about the DFE and when did you start participating in DFE programs?

Tony: In addition to attending the Diversity Outreach Reading Group my freshman year on the recommendation of a senior, I also started attending the Lunch & Learn Series and eventually participated in the competitions my sophomore year.

Max: When I was a sophomore I was approached by two juniors in class, who asked me to do a DFE competition with them. Luckily the competition went well, and I continued to participate into junior year. The competitions themselves have forced me to elevate my own abilities in order to keep pace with all of the other talented students at this school. 

What DFE activity had the biggest impact on you? 

Tony: Definitely the Reading Group and the constant mentorship I received from Emma Rasiel. During the meetings, I had the chance to meet with upperclassmen and faculty and ask all the questions that were on my mind. They were always insightful and really helped me grasp what was happening around the world in the financial markets.

Max: The phrase that you "get out what you put in" is common to throw around — especially for student activities that really require that participants have some sort of internal motivation to learn and contribute. For me, I've benefited endlessly from my work in the Investment Club. It’s taught me a lot about how to structure and grow an organization, how to maintain morale, and how to find and keep really talented and fantastic people. 

What skills have you developed by participating in DFE activities?

Tony: The firm-sponsored competitions really helped me refine my analytical and public speaking skills. For example, during my sophomore year, I learned how to analyze and communicate market data by presenting our macroeconomic research and investment strategy to BlackRock representatives. All of this prepared me for internship interviews.

Max: DFE competitions and clubs promote well-roundedness. You get to work on quantitative, presentation, critical thinking, and communication skills simultaneously. The best thing anyone can say about the activities is that they build the skills you'll use in your actual career, which they definitely do. 

Would you recommend being involved with the DFE to others? 

Tony: I would definitely recommend being involved in the DFE! The competitions, reading groups, workshops, and lunch & learns are all extremely valuable opportunities for students interested in the financial markets, and even more broadly, the business world. Not only can students form long-lasting relationships with faculty and staff, but they also build connections amongst each other and with alumni. The DFE offers so many resources to students, it makes no sense not to be a part of it.

Max: Yes. If you want a career in finance, you would be remiss not to. Even if you don't, you will find that the skills and background you gain from DFE programs will help you throughout many aspects of your life. 

What are your plans after graduation?

Tony: I will be working at BlackRock with the Latin America & Iberia Client Team providing advisory and asset allocation strategies to central banks, government ministries, and other official institutions in the region.

Max: I'll be joining the Global Power & Utilities Investment Banking Group at Morgan Stanley. 

What advice can you offer to your underclassmen?

Tony: Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn. Whether it is through meeting alumni, taking finance courses, or participating in competitions, there is always something you can learn. Also, do not be afraid to start early. Companies and alumni are eager to form relationships with you starting freshman year. And finally, but most importantly, give back to younger students once you become an experienced upperclassman. Nothing better defines Duke than the peer mentorship that is so evident through the DFE.

Max: I always encourage the underclassmen I work with to find the aspect of finance or any other career path which truly interests them; find the one you can happily read about in your free time or think about instead of doing your school work. Then pursue that aspect to the hilt. 


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