A Day in the Life: Zarbux Daruwalla

Before embarking on any path in your career, a healthy question to ask is “What am I getting myself into?”.

This question is especially important to ask when thinking about breaking into finance. Careers and internships in finance have earned a wide variety of reputations; the Wolf of Wall Street-esque partying /lifestyle, somehow working 25 hours a day, or getting lunch for so many people that you feel like an Uber Eats driver.

With this series, we hope to clear up some of the common misconceptions when working in finance, and tell you what an internship in finance is actually like. Today, we have Zarbux Daruwalla who will run you through a day in his life during his summer internship at Ares Management in Los Angeles, California.


Zarbux, can you give a brief introduction of yourself and the company you worked for?

To start, I’m a 4th year student at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. Throughout high school, investing was something I was very interested in, and this summer I had the opportunity to complete a summer internship in the corporate private equity group at Ares Management in their LA office, which is a $26bn private equity fund.


What drew you to this field and this company?

It started with a financial securities course I took in grade 12 that drew me into the public markets. I was fascinated with the idea that you could profit from being smarter and more nimble than the broader investing community.

Once I started business school, I realized that my passion for investing was based on creating value for businesses in the form of change, rather than swinging with the markets to make small profits. That’s when I looked to private equity. What drew me to Ares wasn’t just the opportunity to receive a top-notch private equity investing education, but also being exposed to special situations / distressed opportunities was part of the experience. Being able to learn about how to analyze a business and where in the capital structure is the optimal place requires a very special skillset, and Ares was a leader in that space.

WAKE UP UNTIL YOU GET TO WORK

6:30AM

I usually woke up at 6:30AM to shower and get ready for the day. Most of the investment professionals get in around 9AM since we aren’t tied to public markets, but I always aimed to be in the office around 8AM. I would shower until 7AM, iron my shirt / pants for the day, and eat some food.

7:45AM

I would call my Uber at this time to drive us to work, which typically took around 5 minutes. I lived very close to the office. I would usually swing in around 7:50AM / 7:55AM, set down my things, and then go grab a cup of coffee and a Greek yogurt snack to start the day.

BEGINNING OF WORK UNTIL LUNCH

At its core, private equity breaks down into two main components: 1) looking at new business opportunities, and 2) maintaining / monitoring portfolio companies (PoCos). As an intern, we primarily worked on new deals and didn’t touch PoCo work much.

8AM – 9AM

I would typically spend this time touching up any work I did the previous day and read the news. Although our work isn’t as tightly tied to the public markets, being aware of what’s going on is crucial for looking at new deals from a macro perspective. Moreover, I would spend this time reviewing notes / materials for current deals I’m working on and prepare for any upcoming meetings.

9AM – NOON

This really fluctuated on a day to day basis. On the “typical day”, I would say most of my time is tied up doing calls with industry professionals for current deals we’re looking at. For example, if we were looking at a packaging business, we would spend some time doing calls with C-suite executives from large packaging companies to understand their perspective of the industry, where they think it’s going, and any industry knowledge they’ve acquired over their entire career. Very often, I would get an email to swing by a partner’s office – this typically meant they received a CIM that they glanced at and liked, and they wanted me to run preliminary due diligence to see if it was worth chasing. This would take up 5-8 hours, where I would arrange industry calls, build out the financial model, and think about the investment thesis outlined in the CIM and created by the bankers. A good chunk of this job was thinking about the thesis and determining whether the banker was trying to put makeup on the pig (sell us a bad asset). I would usually send in all my findings directly to the partner by EOD.

LUNCH

Ares has a catered lunch every day, which helps promote socializing amongst the firm. Private equity is only one part of the company – we have a ~30bn PE practice, ~30bn Real Estate practice, and an ~70bn credit platform. As such, it’s nice to speak with some other people from different groups, or hang out with the analysts / associates in a more casual setting. I have never had to get lunch for other people – however, on Thursdays we had a farmer’s market that everyone really enjoyed. The Hawaiian chicken was amazing, and I would usually ask if anyone wanted me to grab one for them on my way there.

AFTERNOON

NOON – 1:30PM

This is when the bulk of whatever I’m currently working on comes to a close. Whether it’s building out a preliminary LBO from a CIM I received that day, to topping off some analysis I was doing for a current deal.

1:30PM – 5PM

This is the time frame where most of the industry calls happen. With every deal, we like to do 5-6 calls to really get a grasp for the drivers in that industry, who the major players are, how consolidated / fragmented it is, and what are the potential things to look out for. It’s really important because we need to verify whether this is something we want to spend money doing more diligence on, or if it goes straight to the garbage pile. For context, in a typical year, Ares will look at ~1000 businesses, and spend money on less than 5% of those, and end up investing in, maybe, 5-8 businesses. That means a lot of calls, and a lot of learning about industries you might not know anything about.

EVENING

5PM – 8PM

This is typically when a Partner or Principal on your deal team will ask for a task to be done. It’s usually very vague and it’s not deal work per se, but it’s usually something small for a deal they’re currently working on. This consists of research, modelling, or data entry. At around 5:30PM, the Analysts / Associates would usually go out for dinner and the interns would join them. Dinner is paid for by the company, so we would swing by the mall beside work to grab a bite to eat. I usually go for the salad since sitting all day isn’t exactly the greatest form of exercise.

8PM – 10PM

This would be grind time – this is when I’m typically cranking out anything needed to be done for that day. This could be current deal work, a new deal that just came on my desk today, or some smaller tasks for a partner or principal. There are many iterations of all this work, so a small task can end up taking quite a while if you’re not meticulous with your work. If we were doing a deal and it passed the 1st round bid, we would typically spend 2-3 days traveling to meet with the management team and see if we liked them. This was a really fun part of the job because you get to travel, but also get exposed to professionals who spend their entire life in the industry you spent the last 2-5 days researching. During my summer, I got to attend 3 MPs where we traveled to New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. They were all a ton of fun and really great opportunities to apply your learning / research and see a Partner / Principal in action.

Alumni Interview: Paul Jun (MBA / Venture Capital / Private Equity)

Continuing with our interview series, our Curriculum Director connected with one of Investors of Tomorrow’s Board of Directors, Paul Jun, to learn about his decision-making process behind some of his career choices. Paul is currently pursuing his MBA degree at Harvard Business School. Prior to attending HBS, he worked in a variety of roles including tech investor at Index Ventures, VP at Dropbox, Private Equity Associate at Leonard Green & Partners and Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley. Paul is a proud alumnus of the Ivey School of Business at Western University. 

How did you become interested in finance? 

My initial interest in finance and the markets started all the way back in middle school; I remember I was an avid newsreader and would often come across business articles about the major developments in companies and the financial markets. These articles especially appealed to me, as I had always been curious to learn about how the financial markets worked and the vast opportunities that they offered.  

Why did you transition to PE?  

When I was recruiting for jobs at Ivey, I was torn between picking Investment Banking and Consulting. Investment banking focused more on the value side of a company whereas consulting analyzed the strategic positioning of a client. I wished to hone my skills in both so the decision-making process was quite difficult. Even though I chose investment banking in the end, part of me was still interested in learning about the operational aspect of many companies. I felt that private equity combined both investment banking and consulting along with the advantages of being a principal actor vs. an agent/advisor. 

What about corporate finance & strategy at Dropbox? 

I joined Dropbox in 2013 as a generalist on our business team when it was a Series B start-up. My job was to identify, develop and lead projects that had high potential impact on Dropbox. These projects included finding and defining our target market for monetizable users and returning to positive free cash flow. In my first year I was asked to be a people manager. And over the course of my stay at Dropbox, I transitioned to lead the Strategic Finance (Special Projects), Corporate Development and Investor Relations teams – a combination we called Corporate Finance & Strategy. 

Why MBA (Especially at this point in your career)? 

Coming out of Ivey, my career plan was the “classic” finance 2+2+2; 2 years in investment banking, 2 years in private equity; and potentially a 2-year MBA. When I received an offer to stay in private equity, I started thinking about what I would want to do after business school. I did want to return to investing as that had been a passion of mine. At the same time, I had always had a strong interest in technology. I can still remember vividly the time I bought and coded my first web domain at 13 years old and how much I loved that experience. Also, i thought I had a lot to learn from working in an operating role. There was an exceptionally compelling opportunity at Dropbox to work alongside a number of other hyper talented peers that were similarly ex-PE buyside backgrounds. So, it was perfect for me. I thought I would join Dropbox for a year, learn a bunch about what it would be like taking on an operating role and then head to business school.  

What about VC? / Plans for the Future 

Dropbox was backed by a number of really great VC firms and I had the opportunity to get to know the firms over my 4 years there. As I was leaving Dropbox, I mentioned that I would be heading to HBS (and returning back to investing afterwards). That sparked interest and dialogue on potential opportunities in Venture Capital. So, in the next stage of my career, I can envision myself taking on the role of a technology investor and I’m very excited.  

  

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: ANDREW TAI (ENTREPRENEURSHIP / PRIVATE EQUITY / INVESTMENT BANKING)

“One piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be really sober about whether or not you would enjoy living on edge all the time, working without guidance and making decisions on your own.

Andrew Tai

Our Curriculum Director had a interesting discussion with Investors of Tomorrow’s founder Andrew Tai to gather some insight regarding his career choices and any advice he may have for current undergraduate students. Andrew is the Co-Founder and CEO for Motoinsight and Unhaggle, two of Canada’s fastest growing digital automotive companies. Prior to pursuing his entrepreneurial ventures, he worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and private equity at Onex Partners. Andrew is an alumnus of the Ivey School of Business at Western University.

How did you become interested in finance?

When I was in high school, I worked in retail at a Staples store. All the money I made, I basically invested. Unfortunately, I had more losses than I gained.

I was interested in the stock market when I was very young. My parents worked peripherally in the industry and I heard a lot of that around the house. So, finance was something I had naturally been interested in and I went to Ivey knowing exactly which industry to go into.

What was the decision-making process for starting Investors of Tomorrow?

There were a lot of clubs for a lot of different things. At my high school, even though I was interested in finance, business and the market, there wasn’t a club that dealt with those topics. My friends and I wanted to find an excuse to spend time reading different news articles and researching the stock market - Investors of Tomorrow acted as a sanctuary for us. So,we started an after-school club to make it more official. Then, we heard from our colleagues and friends that other schools were interested in the same topics, but didn’t have a club for it. As a result, it branched off to other high schools.

We did a stock market competition, an online platform that that simulated portfolio trading. It was really a fun way to get people involved, and generate a contested spirit without creating any real rift. We were able to find a lot of different people who did not really know what the stock market was, but started playing with the simulation. It was exciting whether you won or lost money since it was all fake. The competition really attracted people who wouldn’t have normally been interested in the stock market to get involved and start talking about it. From there, I transitioned and started working in the industry and got my first internship.

You did investment banking in both the US and Canada and subsequently worked at Onex Partners. Why did you choose to pursue PE?

I spent a little bit of time earlier in my career in New York, working for JPM, then moved back to Toronto to work for Morgan Stanley full time, then I moved over to Onex Partners. Transitioning to buy-side was more of an opportunity to learn about the science behind operating companies. When you are on the investment banking side, you act in more of an advisory role. You don’t really get deeply into the operations, strategies and investment thesis behind investing in a company. And that’s what I really wanted to do. Onex Partners really provided me an opportunity to understand businesses from both an operational and a financial standpoint of a company. So private equity put me closer to an actual company whereas in investment banking you are purely acting as an agent.

Would you say by learning more about the finer details of companies, you inevitably became interested in starting your own business?

I have always loved the market but at the same time always wanted to become an entrepreneur. To this day, I still follow the market religiously since it’s always been an interest of mine. After spending the early part of my career in finance, the entrepreneurial side just kept coming back. It’s always easier to take risks as an entrepreneur when you are younger, and when you don’t have a family, kids or a mortgage. After spending few years in finance and really enjoying it, the opportunity to start a business with my co-founders, who were also long-term friends of mine, was exceptionally appealing since we were young and there was really no downside to it.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you switched from corporate to entrepreneurship?

In corporate, you generally have a boss that tells you what to do and if you do a good job at it, you will be very successful in your job. However, in entrepreneurship, it’s more complicated than that. No one will tell you what to do and it’s your responsibility to figure it out. I believe that’s the most challenging part. You really need to know how to spend your time and how to create value for your business. There are no easy solutions to some of these problems. Yes, it’s a lot more stressful but I wouldn’t say I don’t enjoy it. It’s very different from working in corporate.

Any final advice for students wishing to pursue entrepreneurship or finance?

It’s very important for you to figure out what it is that you are passionate about. Nowadays, pursuing entrepreneurship is really a rising trend with a lot of people thinking about it, but it’s a very difficult path. One piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be really sober about whether or not you would enjoy living on edge all the time, working without guidance and making decisions on your own. If you enjoy being in a more structured environment, then entrepreneurship is likely not for you. That being said, if you decide to go down the entrepreneurship route, I’d say do it as early as possible. Time is your biggest advantage. I loved my career in finance as the professional services experience honed my soft skills and made me more polished. And that helped me tremendously when I was interacting with people and making sales pitches to clients.

My Summer in Investment Banking

By Tamy Chen

I spent this past summer as an Investment Banking (“IB”) Analyst at CIBC World Markets. I am officially a Technology, Media and Telecom (“TMT”) IB analyst but at CIBC, TMT is placed within Diversified Industries Group (“DIG”). The greatest thing about that was my ability to straddle both groups; I got mainly TMT work but occasionally worked on DIG files as well.

My summer in IB was amazing. Yes, the hours sometimes were long by traditional standards but I really enjoyed the work and what I did so I was never really bothered by it. I also did not mind coming in on the weekends and I really liked my pit (the area of my group where the analysts and associates sit).

My tasks began with PowerPoint designs, making charts and graphs, grabbing research, and of course, binding and printing when needed. I also updated the TMT comparable companies (“comps”) when they released their financial statements.  That for me was a great experience because with the assistance of my full-time TMT Analyst, I became really familiarized with those companies and overall improved my financial statements analysis abilities. One of the main reasons why I enjoy IB is because I actually love understanding a company through gathering analysis and conclusions from their financial statements.

My two key projects this summer were the proposed sale of a mid-sized technology firm and an engaged sell-side transaction of a start-up tech firm. The first was, in a nutshell, a “beauty contest”. That is when a company looking to engage in some sort of transaction and has several banks submit pitches to decide which firm to hire as a financial advisor. I worked closely with my TMT Analyst and Associate; this project exposed me to all the main valuation techniques from DCF to precedent transactions, comps and LBO. I took the handle in gathering precedent transactions and I learned a lot about the various alternatives in conducting a sale. Then, I also got to listen in to my Managing Director and Executive Director present to the client which was pretty cool.

My second main project officially kicked off (we were engaged) in mid-summer and unlike a beauty contest, my work focused primarily on preparing the Confidential Information Memorandum (“CIM”) and other tasks related to supporting the actual sale process. This includes helping update the contact log after our senior coverage team contacts potential buyers, managing the Internal Data Room for when buyers submit Indications of Interest and request more information for due diligence, and so on. I worked a lot on the CIM (which is fundamentally a more in-depth version of a Teaser. It goes through an industry analysis of the space the target company is in, more detailed financial performance and forecasts, supply chain disclosure, organizational structure, patents, technologies used and so on). What was great about this experience was the exposure to a real, or live, deal – basically the sell-side processes described in my beauty pageant project were actually being applied.

I had a very rewarding summer and that was due to my great work environment and the positive attitude I put to the job. I came in knowing all the tasks a Summer Analyst may be asked to do, I came in knowing full well the hours I’d have to commit but I knew this is an investment in my knowledge and career development.

I also believe what ultimately landed me a full-time offer was my attitude and work ethic. I’ll be the first to point out I am certainly no expert in IB technicals. I am not a tech expert either. I made mistakes, I had to learn a lot on the job, but as long as you have the fundamentals and a quick ability to learn, the advanced ideas can be taught. When you show enthusiasm for the job and take in feedback (and also ask for feedback) and improve on them, that’s a differentiator.

But of course, this summer is also a learning experience about you. If you find this was not the career for you, which I’ve seen in other interns this summer, then that’s also valuable insight. You walk away with a very informative summer about finance, about business and about yourself but make sure that you still remain professional and keep a work ethic until you finish the job. There’s nothing worse than leaving with a bad impression of being a slacker even if you aren’t trying to get a full-time offer.

So I guess I will sum up my personal takeaways and advice for aspiring bankers:

  • Be humble (you do not know more than your full-time Analysts and Associates),

  • Be positive (you’re only in this for 4 months; the full-timers are here to stay! You can catch up on sleep during school) but most importantly,

  • Be hungry: Your summer in IB will only be as good as the attitude you give when you walk into the pit every day