Q&A with DFE Leadership Award Winner Arjun Bakshi ’22

Arjun Bakshi headshot with Duke Chapel arches in the background
Arjun Bakshi '22, 2021-2022 DFE Leadership Award winner

For the Duke Financial Economics Center (DFE), each spring brings the opportunity to honor a number of seniors for their exceptional leadership qualities and commitment to mentorship throughout their involvement with the center. Directors John Caccavale and Emma Rasiel established the DFE Leadership Award in 2011 for this purpose. They are pleased to add the 2021-2022 winners to the list of recipients: Gianna Affi, Arjun Bakshi, William Bradley, Davis Jones, and Thomas Schaefer.

Coming from a wide range of academic interests and extracurricular pursuits, Affi, Bakshi, Bradley, Jones, and Schaefer demonstrate that Duke students with a passion for finance cannot be pigeonholed. This month we are highlighting each of them in a Q&A profile.

Arjun Bakshi will graduate in May with a double major in economics and psychology and a minor in computer science. He is excited to start as a global markets analyst with Bank of America’s Securitized Products group in the summer.

“I’ve known Arjun throughout his time at Duke, and I’ve seen how he brings maturity and a broad perspective to everything he does,” said Caccavale. “I know students he’s mentored have really appreciated his insight and laid-back personality.”

How did your interest in finance develop?

Having grown up internationally in both Hong Kong and London, I have always been interested in following current affairs and world news events. Taking ECON 256 Practical Financial Markets and ECON 370 Global Capital Markets with John and Emma really showed me how I could apply my interests to contemporary topics, such as the impact Brexit was having in real-time on the FX market and even the U.S. stock market. Exploring these connections was a really enjoyable experience. From there I decided to recruit for sales and trading and was fortunate to join Bank of America last summer!

How did you become involved with DFE?

I initially became involved through the Wells Fargo Corporate Valuation Competition whilst taking ECON 256 my sophomore fall. After that, I was a TA for ECON 256 in the fall of 2020, which was a great experience. I have been a senior mentor for younger students and recently participated in the Demystifying Finance series for freshmen wanting to learn more about the field.

What events, programs, classes, and people have had the most impact on you as you’ve pursued finance? In what ways have they helped you grow?

At Duke, ECON 370 was the most influential class I have taken. I am not involved in the more “typical” finance organizations on campus such as Investment Club, Scale and Coin, or Delta Sigma Pi, so this class was my first introduction to learning the inner workings of the markets. The energy John brought to the class was infectious, and by osmosis, made me really excited to learn more each week about how the markets were changing and why.

When I was a sophomore, the upperclassmen at the time were also a tremendous resource. They were gracious enough to offer their time and thoroughly explain their recruiting process, tips for internships, and how to navigate the job search. Speaking to them provided me with tremendous clarity on what I saw as a good fit for myself.

Of all of the contributions you’ve made through finance-related activities (both DFE and non-DFE), of what are you the proudest?

Having been a TA and a DFE senior mentor and participated in the Demystifying Finance series, I have been able to talk to and advise numerous underclassmen with their own questions and concerns about recruitment and interview prep. As a freshman or sophomore, finance as an industry can seem daunting. Being there for students to help them prep for upcoming interviews and super days and providing them with my honest experiences is something I am very proud of.

Outside of finance, what other interests have you explored at Duke? What non-finance accomplishments are you proud of?

I am definitely proud of my role in Durham SOUP, a Duke-led start-up that helps increase social entrepreneurship in Durham. We provide a platform for local entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses to community members who pay $10 to attend the event. Attendees vote for the best idea and the money raised helps the winner kick start their enterprise. Since joining the group in September 2019, we have hosted several events and consistently raised over $2,000 for our winning entrepreneurs. Our most recent event, on April 7, was my 6th and final event as co-leader of Durham SOUP.

Additionally, this year I am a Costanzo Teaching Fellow for PSYCH 101. I have loved the experience of teaching my own section of 15 students, devising lesson plans, and mentoring each student individually with their detailed research papers.

Watch the video below to hear Arjun's advice for his fellow Dukies.