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Barings + Girls Who Invest: Two Real-World Experiences

October 2020 - 3 min read

In partnership with Girls Who Invest, Barings welcomed two interns for a 10-week summer program that paired academic instruction with real-world experience.

This summer, Barings partnered with Girls Who Invest (GWI)—a non-profit dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry—to welcome two impressive, college-level interns to the firm: Hailey Freedman and Jill Koski. In between their sophomore and junior years at Brown University and UNC Chapel Hill, respectively, Freedman and Koski were selected to be among just 180 young women nationwide for the organization’s 10-week summer intensive program that paired academic learning with real-world experience. 

“We’re so grateful to our friends at Barings for their strong support of our mission,” said Girls Who Invest CEO Katherine Jollon Colsher. “We value how important it is for women to be a part of the investment and asset management industry, particularly when it comes to where the power lies— managing the money. Our vision is to have 30% of the world’s investable capital managed by women by 2030. And it is by partnering with incredible firms like Barings and working with these talented scholars that we are going to make this happen.”

From their homes in North Carolina and Maryland, Freedman and Koski spent the first four weeks taking a deep dive into the asset management world alongside professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The subsequent six weeks were spent putting those lessons into practice and getting hands-on experience at an asset management firm—in this case, Barings.

Freedman joined the Private Equity Real Assets (PERA) group, where she dove in headfirst—doing everything from compiling issuer data and creating models/valuations, to attending investment committee (IC) and macro meetings, and eventually making presentations on her findings. She spent the majority of her time working on one major health care deal for the financial services division under Matt Leonard, a director on the team. “Seeing everything from the start was incredible. We had to underwrite the deal, make sure it was a good investment opportunity, present it to the IC and get the green light for further due diligence, and talk with various groups around the firm. To be an active part of something like that—helping shape and add value to a real company—was so rewarding,” she said.

Koski spent her time with the Private Finance group under Pinkney Beal, an analyst on the team. Working on five active deals, Koski conducted company research, wrote up pros and cons on the firms, attended meetings and presentations—and ultimately expanded her asset management knowledge ten-fold. “I gained so much exposure to different industries, and felt like all of my work was actually implemented somewhere,” she said. “Especially for someone my age, this is not always the case when going into an internship—so, having the opportunity to do real work for the firm was amazing.” 

Both Freedman and Koski said the internship opened their eyes to several different paths of finance they never knew existed. “A lot of people in college go straight into investment banking or sell-side roles, because that’s all they know,” said Koski. “But I’ve found that I prefer to be on the buy side. I like that it’s more about decision making versus making recommendations without necessarily having a say in the end. And I really enjoy analyzing companies.”

When asked what advice they might have for future GWI Scholars, Freedman and Koski agreed: Be open-minded. Ask lots of questions. Reach out to as many people as possible. And be a sponge. “You’re expected to be the person who doesn’t know as much, and that’s completely okay. Now is the time to learn as much as you can,” said Koski. “Always be open; you never know what might interest you. Reach out and talk to everyone,” said Freedman. “People really want you to learn about what it is that they do—because they are passionate about it, and they want to share that with you. There’s something to learn from everyone.”

“It can be intimidating to enter finance, because it tends to be thought of as a man’s world—and unfortunately that inhibits a lot of women,” added Freedman. “But with the GWI organization, you get to see women in senior leadership roles. It shows that the obstacles don’t need to be in place. Rather, if you do the work and put in the time, you can get there too. It’s an empowering thing that I think a lot of young women need to hear—and GWI and Barings did a great job of exposing me to that.” 

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