Making The Cut

Last week, first-year MBA students in the finance academy competed for spots on the Henry Fund, a 3.8 million endowed equity portfolio.  Mike Fleagle, a second-year MBA student who is currently on the Henry Fund, gave some background on his experience.

The application process is competitive, and many qualified candidates apply.  However, only a small number of students get accepted.  Mike was part of that small group who blended their financial skills, pre-MBA background and analytical prowess to make the cut.

Mike Fleagle

Mike Fleagle, ’15, a Second-Year MBA Student at the University of Iowa

Mike, if we could start with a little background–what exactly is the Henry Fund?

The Henry Fund is an experiential learning opportunity where anywhere between 10-15 MBA students manage a stock portfolio. It targets finance students who want to work in investment management or corporate finance.

So how does it work exactly?

Initially you’re managing the portfolio that’s left to you from the previous class. You evaluate the current companies, for example, if you think they’re still viable and able to outperform the market.  You also evaluate new companies.

It’s an exercise in understanding a business from the top line to the bottom line including the competition as well as macroeconomic factors that might affect it.

And you’re managing real money—a large amount of it.

3.8 million dollars.

I know a little about the process, but could you briefly explain what first years need to do if they’re interested in joining the Fund?

Sure. First you need to be a finance student.  Then you have to apply. You put together a 3-page paper which is an evaluation of the company.  You evaluate the company by setting up a model and then give a 3-minute presentation in front of finance faculty and some current Henry Fund students.

That sounds intense. How does the selection process work?

Well they base the selection on your written report, first 8-week grades and your presentation.

[The committee] wants to see that you know how to evaluate a company, not necessarily that you have all the skills in finance. They want to see the way you think.

That makes a lot of sense…especially considering that some finance students are career-changers and might not necessarily have a background in finance. 

Once you are selected as an analyst for the Henry fund, what are your responsibilities?

Once you’re in the fund you’re responsible for a specific sector. There are about 8-9 sectors. You’re responsible for all the companies within the sector so you have to evaluate all the present ones and any future companies you might want to add. You’re also responsible for evaluating your peers in terms of their presentations.

So what’s the best part about working for the Henry Fund?

Two things—one is that it’s one of the more involved classes that you end up taking.  Finance students get some experience in marketing and some in strategy in their general classes, but you get experience in all those pieces together with this.

The second aspect is that it’s pretty well-known among the alumni base and one of the things Tippie is known for. It’s a good starting piece to bring up in interviews.

Awesome. Sounds like a great program to be involved in. What’s the hardest part about Henry Fund?

The time management involvement—you don’t realize how much time it’ll take until you get into the nitty-gritty.  That’s one thing they look at as well when admitting people.

So you really have to have what it takes to participate, in terms of work ethic as well?

It’s by far the most involved class you’ll ever take at Iowa.  That’s based on the amount of all-nighters.

I could tell Mike was the type of person who delivers when faced with an important project or deadline, as is characteristic of students who made it through these competitive processes.  I was once again proud to be part of the Tippie culture.  My classmates can be easy-going and friendly, but they are really able to get results when the time calls for it.

So to wrap things up, do you have any advice for incoming or first year students looking to get involved?

Experience and the involvement within the fund is a really good talking point with employers and alumni—it creates common talking points, so it’s a really easy way to connect with people. And any time you can talk about evaluating the stock market gives you credibility.   You have some actual experience with money behind it.

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