01 Oct 1997

High Fives

Five of the many prominent figures in the finance field from the Class of 1972 get personal and prophetic.


Marilyn Goldstein Fedak
Chief Investment Officer
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc.
New York, New York

In 1993, Marilyn Fedak was named chief investment officer, chairman of the U.S. Equity Investment Policy Group, and a member of the board of directors at Sanford Bernstein. Before that, she had been a senior portfolio manager for the firm, a position she had held since 1984. Fedak is also a member of the Small-Cap, International, and Global Equity Investment Policy Groups. From 1972 to 1983 she was a portfolio manager and research analyst at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company.

Most important thing learned at HBS: “I developed a sense of confidence in myself and in my ability to go out and compete in the business world.”

Inspirations & role models: “As a woman, there were no role models!”

Best business advice ever received: “When I was at Morgan, I had wanted to be a portfolio manager, but the head of the department kept passing me over for the position because we didn't get along. When he finally did offer me the job, I didn't want to take it because I felt he didn't believe in me. Lew Sanders, who is now the chairman of Sanford Bernstein, said to me, 'Take the opportunity and show him he's wrong.' I did. The rest is history.”

Investment outlook over the next five years: “It's hard to be bullish on the U.S. equity market, which continues to go up. We're not going to be in a permanent expansion with little inflation forever. So Sanford Bernstein has taken a defensive stance, and we have encouraged our clients to take substantial portions of their U.S. equity portfolios and buy international stocks.”

Views on investing in emerging markets: “Those markets are enticing but can be unbelievably volatile. We think the lowest-risk way to participate in them is to diversify by owning many stocks in a lot of countries and weighting the countries more or less equally. It's simply too difficult to predict which market's going to be down 67 percent and which one's going to be up 102 percent in any given year.”

Biggest disappointment: “Oh, probably not to have been immediately asked to be a portfolio manager at Morgan.”

Proudest moment: “July 17, 1996, when my husband and I got remarried after having been divorced since 1990.”

Carl Ferenbach Ill
Managing Director
Berkshire Partners LLC
Boston, Massachusetts

After his first management position as an assistant to a CEO at a securities firm, Carl Ferenbach entered theworld of invest­ment banking, spending five years as the head of Merrill Lynch's mergers and acquisitions group. In 1984, he and four other HBS alumni organized what would become Berkshire Partners' first private equity fund. Berkshire Partners today manages four investment funds with approximately $750 million of capital for private equity investments.

Most important thing learned at HBS: “About my own limitations. I'm not a very analytical person, so I got a wonderful framework for looking at problems while at HBS.”

Inspirations & role models: “Lyndon Comstock: a community service entrepreneur who has founded two inner-city banks and other community organizations in New York and the San Francisco area using his personal credit card. Chuck Knight, who runs Emerson Electric: a master at how to be clear and forthright as a manager about goals and expectations and measurement. Donald Regan: he wasn't the most popular guy at Merrill Lynch, but he assembled something that hasn't been duplicated.”

Best business advice ever received: “Buy low, sell high. Sounds simple, but it's incredibly hard to do. If you're in the investment business, it makes up for a multitude of sins.”

Investment outlook over the next five years: “I'm generally bullish.”

Views on investing in emerging markets: “We're conservative at Berkshire. We've made major commitments in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Australia. We haven't had the guts yet to step up to places like Brazil, which we think have huge potential. But we're wrestling with it and beginning to network; in the long run we're probably going to want to be there.”

Biggest disappointment: “Not having enough time to do things. I might have played the piano, or spent more time in the community, or been a farmer, or done more things with my wife, but I seem to keep following the bouncing ball.”

Proudest moment: “When I married my wife, Judy. We've been married for 25 years; without her, who knows what life would have been like.”

Joseph R. Perella
Managing Director and Head of Worldwide Investment Banking
Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc.
New York, New York

In 1973,Joe Perella founded First Boston's mergers and acquisitions group, which flourished under his fifteen-year tenure.After serving briefly as cohead of investment banking at First Boston, he left the firm in 1988 to create the investment banking boutique Wasserstein Perella & Co., Inc., with Bruce Wasserstein (MBA '71), which achieved prominence during the 1980s. Perella left the firm in July 1993 and joined Morgan Stanley as managing director later that year.

Most important thing learned at HBS: “How to approach problems.”

Inspirations & role models: “My grandfather: he was an Italian immigrant who was never intimidated a day in his life. My father: he stood up to adversity and always got through it. At Harvard, great professors like Ted Levitt, Gordon Donaldson, Earl Sasser, Jack Gabarro, Ray Goldberg. Joe Flom of the law firm Skadden Arps; Felix Rohatyn at Lazard Frères; Dick Fisher (MBA '62) at Morgan Stanley, who had a lot to do with my coming to the firm. I'd also never underestimate the influence of an Italian mother.”

Best business advice ever received: “Joe Flom said something in the middle of a takeover battle: remember, it's a lot easier to turn people off than turn them on.”

Investment outlook over the next five years: “I'm very optimistic about the future, particularly for the United States. Events since 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall, the embracing of market capitalism around the world, the huge demand for American technology and know-how, governments' movement to be more fiscally conservative - make for a lot of stability and opportunity.”

Views on investing in emerging markets: “There's great opportunity. Look at China; with more than a billion people, there's no telling what they can achieve. The whole Pacific Rim is another emerging market with tremendous potential. Russia, too.”

Biggest disappointment: “That Wasserstein Perella didn't evolve into the firm I wanted it to be.”

Proudest moment: “One was in 1996 when the deal was consummated to form Novartis, the Swiss-based life-sciences company. Another was when Dick Fisher and John Mack asked me to head the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley, which I consider to be a great responsibility and a great honor.”

Stephen A. Schwarzman
President and CEO
The Blackstone Group
New York, New York

Steve Schwarzman joined Lehman Brothers as a member of the corporate finance department after graduating from HBS. Elected a managing director in 1978, he was eventually given responsibility for engineering Lehman's mergers and acquisitions area. In 1985, he left Lehman to cofound the Blackstone Group with Peter G. Peterson, former chairman of Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb. In recent years Blackstone has invested in about seventy corporate and real-estate transactions with a total value of more than $20 billion.

Most important thing learned at HBS: “The integration of the different disciplines, which allowed me to develop a systems approach to problem solving.”

Inspirations & role models: “Averell Harriman: a businessman, politician, and statesman who by the end of the 1960s was one of the few national leaders who still maintained people's respect. Bill Donaldson (MBA '58): my first boss and the founder of DLJ and the Yale School of Management, who served as a model for succeeding at several important careers.”

Best business advice ever received: “It's better to do something correctly and finish it late than to finish it on time and have it be wrong.”

Investment outlook over the next five years: “I'm bullish, because productivity is going up significantly around the world. Globalization is creating higher growth rates and overall lower costs of production. However, the U.S. stock market is ahead of itself.”

Views on investing in emerging markets: “We at Blackstone think it's interesting, but you have to be very selective about where you do business. For private equity, Latin America is favorable now because inflation has dramatically declined, savings rates have improved, and there's not a large pool of surplus capital to finance its growth, so external capital can earn good returns. Asia's had terrific growth, but it's harder for U.S. investors to satisfy their return criteria, because the best deals are taken by the overseas Chinese.”

Biggest disappointment: “That I'm not going to live long enough to do everything I'd like to do.”

Proudest moment: “Being at my fiftieth birthday party surrounded by my family, my close friends, and my colleagues at Blackstone. I looked around the room and felt very moved by how lucky I've been.”

David A. Spina
President and Chief Operating Officer
State Street Corporation
Boston, Massachusetts

David Spina left his position as a credit analyst at State Street to attend HBS, returning to the bank upon graduation. His tenure at State Street has included the positions of executive vice president, vice chairman, CFO,and treasurer. A 205-year-old institution that has generally hired its leaders from outside, State Street recently named Spina president and chief operating officer. Spina is also director of the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Inc., and vice chairman of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Inc.

Most important thing learned at HBS: “The importance of the people with whom you associate. My relationships with my fellow students are probably the most valuable things I took with me from HBS.”

Inspirations & role models: “My wife: she's inspired me to have more balance in my life, to make sure I have fun and spend time on family relationships. My former boss, Bill Edgerly (MBA '55): he taught me about the pain and the payoff of charting new courses. My current boss, Marshall Carter: he's a constant source of new ideas.”

Best business advice ever received: “Early in my career I was offered a position working for the new CEO of State Street, Bill Edgerly. It was a very unstructured job, and I was ambivalent about it. My father-in-law said it would be in the new CEO's interest to make sure that my career was successful also. I took the job.”

Investment outlook over the next five years: “I'm bullish. We're in a world of low inflation. Market economies and fairly open political and social systems are producing enormous economic and social benefits.”

Views on investing in emerging markets: “It's extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. The obvious communication and cultural sensitivities can't be overcome by anything except time and effort. Also, the legal framework that we take for granted is significantly different in most emerging markets.”

Biggest disappointment: “That I have still not balanced the personal parts of my life and my business career. I am doing better now, but it's caused me personal angst.”

Proudest moment: “Several occasions when our children have participated in celebrations and when I was named president of State Street.”


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