HBS Hosts Conference on Finance in the New Era of Growth


hbsBy Nahal Bahri, University of California, Berkeley School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015;

Harvard Law School, 3rd year Exchange Program 2014-2015

On Saturday, October 25th, the Harvard Business School Finance Club and the Harvard Kennedy School Finance and Macro PIC hosted the 2014 Finance Conference titled, “Finance in the New Era of Growth.”

Students at HBS and HKS organized the Conference to include speakers and panelists from various firms in the financial sector to discuss myriad topics throughout the event. The day started off with introductory comments by Douglas L. Braunstein, Vice Chairman at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. He stressed the importance of the cyclical nature of markets, and expressed to students that the markets are in a favorable state for prospective students to enter investment banking.

Mr. Braunstein’s optimistic outlook was coupled with his positive remarks on the strength and stability of his firm and its ability to weather the financial crisis. Given his background and involvement in numerous deals throughout his career, he was asked about his negotiation style and strategy during the Q&A. In response, he gave the audience 3 key pieces of advice to consider when negotiating a deal: 1) tell the truth to your client, 2) be aware of different personalities and negotiation styles that other people bring to the table, and 3) be analytical—the numbers matter and that’s what drives people.

Panel discussions were held after his opening remarks. One panel titled, “The Art of Deal Making: Progress in M&A” focused on “recent developments in global M&A activities.” Panelists echoed Mr. Braunstein’s comments and further stressed the highly cyclical nature of the markets. Despite this cyclical nature, panelists explained that the challenge lies in predicting the accelerant, whether it is technological advances or geo-political events that ultimately impact the global economy.

While the M&A panel focused on current M&A activities this past year, a panel called “Women in Finance: Empower and Opportunity” provided attendees with practical advice on how women can succeed in high caliber financial institutions. A dynamic, all-female panel consisting of financiers shared their experiences in the industry and provided advice on how women can succeed in the face of unique obstacles in the workplace. Cheri S. Mowrey, Managing Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at Morgan Stanley advised women in the audience to have a voice early on in meetings, stressing the importance of presence within a firm. The discussion included remarks on career planning, leadership development and work-life balance.

Other panels included discussions on the structure of the financial industry, capital markets, industry regulation and careers in finance. Janet Jin, co-president of the HBS Finance Club, “hoped to make this event a worthwhile educational and networking opportunity for attendees and firms.” She and her colleagues “wanted to make it accessible to a broad audience, from students to professionals, and for people interested in all different facets of finance, from banking to investment management and social enterprise.”

With such a diversity of panelists, the event attracted a wide audience and provided insights and perspectives from industry leaders that left attendees with a positive outlook on careers in finance.

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