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Alumni Profile: Ezra Levine

Ezra Levine, MSF '11

Every professional has a unique path in his or her career development, but I [Nikolaos Papavramidis, MSF ’14] was just happy that my path recently crossed with Mr. Ezra Levine, a Brandeis IBS Alumnus and current partner at Arrowstreet Capital, an investment management company. 

Currently, Arrowstreet Capital has $47 billion under management for over 100 client relationships throughout  North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. As a Graduate Student Ambassador, I was offered the chance to meet  and interview Mr. Levine. I was interested in meeting with him because his experience in a top position at such a  highly respected and developing company as Arrowstreet Capital, could give me important feedback in order to meet my aspirations in this very competitive industry.

Interview of Ezra Levine, MSF '11 by Nikolaos Papavramidis, MSF '14

[NP] Could you describe your educational background?
[EL] I studied finance at Northeastern University for my undergraduate degree, graduating in 1992. After 17 years of work experience, I decided to study for a Masters in Finance at Brandeis International Business School.

[NP] Why did you choose Brandeis IBS for your Master’s in Finance?
[EL] I am keenly interested in international capital markets, so a primary motivation was the diversification and the international exposure Brandeis IBS provides. The opportunity to meet people from all parts of the globe and study cases oriented to the global environment was fantastic.

[NP] Did you have a favorite class?
[EL] Professor John Ballantine’s Global Economic Environment was a great class that allowed students to gain a unique global perspective on contemporary economic issues. In particular, I recall a class where Chinese students debated African students on the merits of the Chinese government’s claim to natural resources, in return for the Chinese government funding initiatives that were potentially beneficial to local residents.

[NP] Could you tell us what your career path was like leading up to your current role?
[EL] After graduation from Northeastern University, I worked as an equity trader in Mexico City. Then I returned to Boston to work in various money management firms until I joined Arrowstreet Capital.

[NP] What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
[EL] The best part of my job is that it’s not routine. Each day I have different tasks, ranging from constructing portfolios and  sharing performance results with clients to client prospecting.

[NP] What has been one of your career highlights to date, and what was your worst experience?
[EL] I could say that my best moment was my first trade as an equity trader in Mexico City. It was something I will never forget because it was new for me. Regarding my bad experiences, there were of course some tough days, but the recession of 2008 was for sure a very tough period for everyone

[NP] Do you have any advice for someone entering this field?
[EL] Especially for our company (which does a lot quantitative analysis in order to construct portfolios) I would say that embracing technical skills, including both math and computer skills, is paramount.  This advantage combined with candidates’ motivation to work hard is essential to success in the industry.

Learning Lessons

For an international graduate student with the incentive of being employed in the US finance industry, any opportunity to get advice from a successful Alum like Mr. Levine proves extremely helpful, especially given the 2008 recession. One of the unforgettable pieces of advice he gave me was when he said, “I always worked with people smarter than I was. This is the greatest way to improve yourself”. Even now in the midst of my MSF program, I am beginning to understand how important it is to have solid peers during  group projects. In the professional world, I would imagine that it’s equally (if not more) important to have smart colleagues that I can continually learn from.  Meeting Mr. Levine inspired me to notice more carefully those smart guys’, they are my connections, my classmates, my friends and my professors. I can already declare that I have learned more than I expected.