As part of Scheller’s Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do after Spring 2019 Commencement.
Meet Shane Phillipps:
Shane is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, and completing his business administration degree with a concentration in finance. After graduation, he will be heading to New York to work at Credit Suisse as an investment banking analyst. He describes himself as an ambitious young professional with an insatiable curiosity and love for life. Shane was recently named one of 100 students nationwide to Poets & Quants Undergrads "Best and Brightest Business Majors Class of 2019" that was also featured on forbes.com
Why did you choose Scheller College of Business?
I chose Scheller College of Business because when I had the opportunity to come and interview for the Dean’s Scholarship, the director of Undergraduate Programs, in addition to the student ambassadors, made me feel extremely comfortable about putting my future in Scheller’s hands. I knew that I would have every educational, extracurricular, and career opportunity that I would get at any other school. For example, Scheller is located in the heart of Atlanta and has very close ties to a variety of Fortune 500 companies in the area. To top things off, all of the students seemed visibly happy and proud to be here, which is definitely not the case at every school.
What was your favorite course?
My favorite class at Scheller College has been Management of Financial Institutions with Professor Gary Jones. Professor Jones taught us how to do deep-dive analysis of both sectors and individual companies while also placing an emphasis on public speaking. However, my favorite aspect of the class was that we had very high-profile guest speakers such as executives from Fortune 500 companies and high-level financial institutions.
Who is your favorite professor?
My favorite professor has been Professor Karie Davis-Nozemack who teaches Legal Aspects of Business. The reason she is my favorite professor is that she actually made me ponder for almost a year on whether or not I wanted to switch my major from finance to pre-law. Through her class, she introduced me to a world of opportunities; opportunities through which I could apply my critical thinking and analysis skills at the cross-section of business and law. She is extremely passionate about her work and has the ability to break things down and apply them to real-world situations in a way that not many can. While I have chosen not to further my studies in law, I firmly believe that any student at Scheller who has even a slight interest in the field should take one of her courses.
Where will you be working after graduation?
After graduation I will be moving to New York to work at Credit Suisse as an investment banking analyst. In this role I will be working with my team to provide companies with access to capital markets and advisory services. Specifically, I will be working within the industrials sector of the bank, which means I will be working with companies in areas such as aerospace and defense, building products, chemicals, paper and packaging, transportation, and more.
Where did you intern?
I had several internships including Credit Suisse, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Southern Company, and Chartwell. Learn more about Shane’s Credit Suisse internship on this podcast
What do you enjoy most about Scheller College?
My favorite thing about Scheller has always been the fact that we have so many instructors with industry experience. Their ability to incorporate their experience into the classroom setting makes for a much more practical experience for us as students. These are often the teachers who will start off class discussing a current event and how our topics relate to the matter. Moreover, these professors often have held jobs that their students are seeking and can offer invaluable insights and advice. In certain situations, professors are even able to enhance a student’s network by making introductions for them.
As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?
Located right outside of Scheller’s doors, Tech Square is much more than just an area ─ it is an ecosystem of densely packed startups, corporate investors, and academic researchers. The theme is undoubtedly one of innovation. One of the clearest examples of this is the Innovation Center where a variety of different startups and Fortune 500 companies work in partnership to make advancements and technological discoveries. Soon-to-be complete is the Coda Building, which is a massive skyscraper that is designed to facilitate interactions between startups, Fortune 500 companies, university affiliates, researchers, and students. This eco-system enables Scheller students to access exposure to the forefront of innovation in the business world.
Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that under my management, the Investments Committee’s fund has outperformed the S&P 500 in 2018, a feat which many hedge funds failed to do. While the S&P 500 yielded a return of -4.38% in 2018, most hedge funds only slightly outperformed with an average return of -2%. However, the Investments Committee achieved a return of 2.33% continuing to create value even when markets are moving down.
What company do you admire most?
One of the companies that I admire most is Netflix. I think Netflix is a perfect example of a company that has not only completely disrupted an industry but taken the necessary steps to maintain its competitive edge. After bringing the idea of video streaming to the media industry, Netflix also looked toward creating original content to further capture market share. Finally, Netflix was the first platform to begin introducing entire seasons at once which lead to the 21st Century craze known as “binge watching.” In that sense, Netflix single-handedly changed what it means to watch television for millions of people in the world.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into Scheller College?
I would say that any student hoping to get into Scheller should take all the opportunities that they have to step out of their comfort zone and try something different. Scheller has a plethora of opportunities and experiences to offer its students. A demonstration of an applicant’s exposure to different experiences will not only show their likelihood of taking advantage of Scheller’s opportunities but will also enable them to spend less time testing the waters once they actually get to Scheller and, instead, spend more time focusing on the opportunities that they are most passionate about.
What activities were you involved with on or off campus, and did your business education impact those activities in any way?
On campus I have been involved in the Georgia Tech Investments Committee, Scheller Student Ambassadors, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Georgia Tech Department of Housing as a Resident Assistant, AIESEC, Georgia Tech Alternative Service Break, Greek Affairs, and the President’s Office as student assistant. I would say that more than my business education impacting my activities, it was my activities that affected my business education. These activities gave me hands-on experience in everything from networking in professional setting to constructing financial models.
What concentration did you pursue and why? How this helped prepare you for your future?
My interest in finance was first sparked when I learned two different ways to make living. These two methodologies involve either providing a good or service in exchange for payment or having your pre-existing money make money for you. The concept of having your money work for you intrigued me and I immediately became more interested in how one could most effectively accomplish this. However, beyond my affinity for investing I was also intrigued by how important the ability to obtain and manage money is for the operations of essentially every organization and company in the world. Whether it be helping a company to raise capital through an IPO or investing capital for clients through a buy-side institution, I hope to one day empower both companies and people through financial freedom.
What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business?
The biggest lesson I have learned from studying business is that I should always maintain the best possible relationship with everyone in my business environment. I primarily focus on my relationships because I enjoy being a friendly person. That being said, I will also acknowledge that relationships can have a profound impact on the trajectory of one’s career path. To clarify, I am referring to relationships with everyone in the hierarchy, not only with superiors. Let’s say for example that someone is running late to work and they have forgotten their key card to get into the building. A business person who has always been extremely friendly and kind to the security guard is much more likely to get let in than a business person who has never acknowledged his or her existence.
What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?
For those students who have no idea what they want to major in, they should take an introductory class in every concentration as soon as possible. This will give them an idea of what each field entails and help with their decision. For those students who have a better idea of a specific business-related field that they are interested in, I’d suggest they sign-up for a concentration-related club. I think these clubs are a great way to get exposure and often professional experience without having a job.
What has surprised you most about majoring in business? (and why?)
What has surprised me most is how important it is for every business to focus on different internal business functions. For example, an accounting firm still needs employees in human resources and operations to run the company, whether or not those services are internal or outsourced. Therefore, for anyone to become a successful leader in the business world, they must at least have a basic understanding of every function there is in business.
“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…)
If I hadn’t majored in business, I would almost definitely have pursued psychology. I have always found the different ways that people make decisions to be extremely interesting. In fact, I often times find myself analyzing both the words and actions of my peers and try to interpret the mindset behind them. I think a part of what drives my interest in the way people think is the fact that I have a very diverse background and have grown up around people with different perspectives. While I did eventually decide to pursue a career in finance, I believe that my intuition for understanding people’s thought processes will play a large role in my success in the business world.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college?
One of the most influential people in my decision to pursue business has been Steve Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group, a multi-national private equity and alternative asset management firm. While I have never met Schwarzman, I have followed him in the news and at a young age, read the book King of Capital, which tells the story of how he started Blackstone. What most interested me about Schwarzman’s story was his ability to find opportunity where others did not see it and to then use that opportunity to create value. For example, the book tells the story of how Schwarzman acquired a chemical maker named Celanese in 2003 at the end of an industrial recession. After a number of streamlining initiatives and several acquisitions, Blackstone was able to sell its position for five times what it had invested. I hope to one day be able to create this kind of value for companies through strategic management and investment.
Who would you most want to thank for your success?
My parents have always made it very clear to me that they did not have a lot growing up. In fact, my father once told me that he aims to give me the life that he wishes he could have had growing up. Knowing these factors, it is difficult to not appreciate what my parents do for me and to want to do the same for my loved ones in the future. This desire drives me to work hard and not only strive for my goals but plan out how I will accomplish them. Moreover, my parents also taught me essential lessons early, such as the importance of preparation. For example, my elementary school had an annual sports day at which I would always place in my races. However, I always placed because my father would have me practice the races at home throughout the weeks leading up. These types of lessons have stuck with me and become core aspects of my mindset and work ethic.
What are the top two items on your bucket list?
- To start a financial institution in Jamaica that will give citizens of lower socioeconomic backgrounds access to loans at an affordable rate.
- To make it to the final table of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker.
What are your hobbies?
Investing, tennis, squash, weight lifting, music festivals, poker, hip-hop music, and fashion.
Fun fact about yourself:
My parents named me after a fictional gun-slinging cowboy from a 1953 George Stevens western film!