A Wall Street finance internship adds a golden touch to Graham Radler’s resume
Hometown: Winter Park, Florida.
Former life: Worked for a real estate private equity fund in Fort Worth and previously for Bear Stearns in New York City.
Future life: Working in oil/gas, real estate or alternative investments like hedge funds.
Cool fact: He studied in St. Petersburg and speaks Russian.
At the epicenter: As an analyst in Bear Stearns’ structured credit group, Graham witnessed the economic meltdown from a front-row seat. The market for the company’s $2.5-billion portfolio of mortgage-backed loans dried up. “It was a train wreck. But I got to see a business model fail, and for a 23-year-old guy, that was eye-opening. It makes you think about how companies seen as unstoppable and unbreakable can be susceptible to unimagined market changes.”
Why TCU?: Although he considered B-schools ranging from the University of Wisconsin at Madison to INSEAD in Paris, he chose TCU’s collaborative culture. “I love the laid-back attitude of Fort Worth, and that carries over into the MBA program. TCU is very competitive, but people are friendly. It’s like your mom says, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s also important to be nice.’ There’s a shared attitude here, and people want you to be successful.”
Wall Street bound: After being impressed by the caliber of TCU students on a Wall Street trip, Nomura Securities flew to campus to interview new talent. Graham received an internship offer from the world’s 10th-largest investment bank, and he spent the summer in New York City working with the global natural resources investment group. “Working in mergers/acquisitions and with IPOs is the golden touch you want on your resume. And now I can say I worked for a major international bank. I think this experience can take my career to places I’ve never imagined.”
Passage to India: Graham joined his TCU classmates in India to talk business strategy with execs at Goldman Sachs, A.T. Kearney global consulting and Reliance Industries (India’s largest private-sector company). Even more memorable than the Taj Mahal or a Mumbai New Year’s Eve party was the country’s explosive economy. “It’s mind-blowing. Americans get excited about a company growing at five percent in a year. But businesses there are growing at 25 or even 50 percent annually. The demands on staff and planning are so much more involved. There’s a lot more uncertainty when you’re dealing with that much growth.”
Battle of the brains: When his real estate team battled the nation’s brightest during the Babson Marketing Case Competition in Boston, TCU earned a spot among elite business schools. The team’s plan for converting a giant hole in the ground into a mixed-use, LEED-certified apartment and retail development placed just behind Cornell, MIT and Columbia. “We presented our cases against the top schools in the country, and we beat Harvard, UT, Rice, Northwestern and a lot of great schools.”
Digging deep: Graham’s family launched Water Harvest International, a charity that has dug 90 drinking wells in remote parts of southern Sudan. After a mission trip to Darfur, he came home impassioned to create a non-governmental organization dedicated to safe drinking water. Running the organization taught him about management and business operations, but his true bottom line is improving people’s lives. “It’s what I call an asymmetric investment. For $4,000, we can provide drinking water for 200 to 1,000 people, depending on the size of the village. Our dollars have a great impact.”
It pays off: The TCU MBA is already paying a dividend. Even his Nomura summer internship has a profitable ROI. “It’s double what I was making before. If I take a full-time offer with bonus, I’d be at three or four times my old salary. It’s the crème de la crème of jobs, so I want to do well.”