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Public Affairs : Investment Club travels to NYC

Investment Club visits nation's financial hub

By Class of 2016 Cadet Jarek Connolly

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 8, 2013) --Thirty-seven cadets from the West Point Investment Club participated in a once-in-a-lifetime experience Nov. 16 when they received an insider’s look at the nation’s financial industry in New York City.

The trip section, led by Col. Jamie Gayton, included a visit to two prominent investment banks (Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase) and a global investment institution (PIMCO), culminating with a personal discussion with arguably the most revered financial institution CEO in the United States, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase.

The tour began at the headquarters of Goldman Sachs where cadets met with several Goldman Sachs managers who were all West Point graduates. They led a discussion with the cadets about their Army careers, their transition from the military to the civilian world, and how their experiences prepared them for demanding high-profile jobs at Goldman Sachs.

Tim Alden, Class of 1996 graduate, said the Army instilled in him the values of perseverance, responsibility and teamwork which have allowed him excel in the workplace. Matt Caldwell, Class of 2002, explained how connections with Army officers and academy graduates were helpful when he was trying to find success in the civilian sector.

Cadets were then led to the heart of this enormous investment bank—the trading floor—and received a tour by Owen West, a former Marine, celebrated author and graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Business School. Cadets learned about the everyday operations of the trading floor including the stress of managing large, risky positions in an uncertain economy. When explaining the fluid communication between the hundreds of traders on the floor, West expressed that “on the trading floor, the quality of your idea is more important than your rank. Regardless of your position or experience, if you give me a good idea, I will listen.”

The next stop on the Investment Club’s trip was to the Pacific Investment Management Company where cadets received detailed briefings on the investment functions within PIMCO. The first speaker was AJ Washington, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who, after acknowledging West Point’s prestige, proceeded to describe his path from the Navy to PIMCO. The remainder of the briefs covered topics such as portfolio management, account management and various investment strategies of a trillion-dollar investment firm.

The Cadet Finance Forum and Investment Club educates cadets in regard to the financial markets, services and the economy so they may have a better understanding of each component in investing. Courtesy Photo

The final stop of the day was at the New York Headquarters of JP Morgan Chase. After an introduction to JP Morgan Chase led by several West Point grads including Jesse Acosta and Tony Odierno, both retired captains. The club met with the JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon. Dimon spoke passionately about America’s financial standing in the world, large-scale investment strategies and core principles of leadership. He explained that although many people are feeling the effects of the recent economic downturn, the nation’s economy is still by far the strongest in the world and is reflected by its military, quality of education and ingenuity. His strategy that has kept JP Morgan growing is based on the fact that money made today comes from good investments made 20 or more years ago.

Even during the economic downturn, his strategy was “always build, always invest” and his expertise has led his company to tremendous success. Dimon also emphasized the importance of ethics in leadership and explained that no matter how high or low a person’s status, that they deserve equal respect and gratitude for their service. Dimon routinely gives a personal and heartfelt thanks to every employee he encounters, and often gives the doorman and the janitors Christmas presents as a token of personal gratitude for their service.

Dimon truly values his people and knows that a quality team environment leads to an organization’s success. The takeaway for cadets was the similarity between leadership in the military and in a public company. Cadets learned and reinforced tremendous leadership skills on this Investment Club trip that they will benefit from in their careers.


Directorate of Cadet Activities