Abhinav Narayanan (MMA'21)
Updated: Jan 15
Program / Class: Master of Management Analytics, Class of 2021 (Winter)
QUAAF Tenure: January 2020 – Present
QUAAF Position(s): Operations Associate, Chief Operating Officer
What was your background prior to coming to Queen’s and joining QUAAF?
I have an undergrad in computer science and business, a path which offered me enough exposure into both technical and commerce at a fundamental level. I’ve always been a very technically inclined person, but my passion is primarily being in a role where I get to interact with people and leveraging the skillset I have to enable others to operate more efficiently, find new ways of approaching challenges, and finding new ways to improve as a contributor and team player.
I felt the natural path forward for me was to formalize the skillset I built up with further studies, and my work experience upon finishing my undergrad was within the analytics space. When looking for schools to do so, Queen’s had stood out to me for its network, alumni, and most importantly, the plethora of opportunities afforded to graduate students who are looking to get involved further with the school.
Why did you join QUAAF and how did the experience impact your time at Queen’s?
I was a complete beginner to the field of asset management, most of my knowledge about the space came from a lot of learning about self-directed investing and personal finance. With that said, I recognized QUAAF as an incredible learning environment and a way to build skills, knowledge, and relationships which I knew would last me a lifetime. The nature of QUAAF being entirely student built and student driven excited me about the magnitude of potential opportunity, both within QUAAF and Queen’s as well as for myself as an individual. I chose to join QUAAF on the Business Development side, taking full advantage of my natural skillset and personality, while also putting myself in a position to learn as much as I possibly could about the space.
Through spending most of my time with the outgoing leadership team at the time, and taking on a leadership role myself, I found very quickly that I could no longer call myself a “beginner” when it came to asset management and the alternative assets industry. All the skills I learned and used during my time in QUAAF are transferrable to virtually every aspect of my life. I truly feel that QUAAF was the highlight on what ultimately was a profound year in terms of my personal growth.
What are some of the key learnings you will take from QUAAF into the rest of your life?
QUAAF has allowed me to get over any lingering discomfort when it came to getting involved in new spaces. The opportunity in this space, aside from the investment side of things, allowed me to experience some key activities that I normally wouldn’t get to experience until a decade or two into my career. My time in business development and as part of the management team has allowed me to flex a variety of multifaceted and crucial skills, all the while understanding the many nuances that comes with running a team and an organization as a whole. The most important thing I will be taking with me is the breadth of knowledge required to function in a management role, meaningful ways to further make our operations more efficient, and that understanding how each team within an organization must work together in order to function effectively as a whole.
What advice would you give to Masters’ students that want to get involved with QUAAF but don’t have much experience / are new to finance?
I can promise that the field of finance, though it seems intimidating, is very approachable to those willing to learn; if I can do it, I have full faith that just about anyone can. With that said, these are the few key pieces of advice I would highlight:
· Don’t be afraid to continually ask questions. It was in large part due to my constant barrage of questions that I learned and contributed as much as I did.
· Put yourself up for as much as you can manage with QUAAF. The easiest way to learn is by doing, and it naturally follows that you learn and retain more by doing more. Those who always gained the most from QUAAF are the ones who ended up contributing the most.
· It’s a lifelong learning process. What you pick up in QUAAF is only just scratching the surface of the ocean of information that exists out there, and incremental gains is the way to progress.
· Watch Billions, at least the first two seasons. Though (often) very exaggerated, the show serves as a fantastic introduction to the world of hedge funds and asset management, not to mention the impeccable acting and production value.