Field Course: Projects in Investing - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Field Course: Projects in Investing

Course Number 6454

Senior Lecturer Sara L. Fleiss
Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
10 Sessions
Project

Prerequisite: Students must also take Investment Management for Professional and Personal Investors or Investment Strategies.

Enrollment by application only: To apply, please send your CV and a paragraph of interest to Brian O’Connor (boconnor@hbs.edu). The application deadline will be in January 2018.

Course Overview

This field-based course represents a unique opportunity for students to apply the skills learned in the classroom in Investment Management and Investment Strategies to a real-world investment setting. Students will partners will an investment firm to work directly and deeply on an investment theme or question. In conjunction with their sponsor, students will develop a process and plan and execute on it during the 14-week semester.

Students will learn first-hand the challenges and issues surrounding the diligence of an investment idea, the sourcing of opportunities, implementation, and portfolio and risk management. Students will develop and refine their investment process organization, creating a framework for investing. This should allow them to better utilize and develop pattern recognition and allow them to ponder: What is this firm's edge? How do they add alpha? This experience will not only help students shape their skills as investors — modeling, pitching, participant on an investment committee — but also continue to build perspective on the eco-system of investment management.

Learning Objectives

  • Pattern recognition: Refine and develop a framework for investing
  • Investment process organization: expose students to the investment process beyond research, from sourcing to implementation
  • Develop more robust modeling and pitching skills
  • Participate in an investment committee setting
  • Work and develop relationships with incredible investors

The course is designed around paired case sessions, exploring a topic over two days. Within each pair of sessions, the following four elements will typically be present:

Course Content and Expectations

Field-Based Work: Teams of three will work with an investment firm on a specific investment theme or question; students will be allowed to rank top choices from a curated list of projects. Students will meet with their sponsor at least three times during the semester — an introductory meeting, an in-person, and a final presentation. Students are expected to check-in weekly with their sponsor. A final presentation will be given to their sponsors — presented in front of the investment committee and senior management team. Students are expected to use their time with sponsors to think through and develop a research process, to plan out time management, to better understand other issues surrounding an investment such as legal, trading and risk management. Students should spend time shadowing other functions within the firm to better grasp the investment process.

The majority of the work will be done independently by the students using the resources at HBS and from the sponsoring firms. Students must be proactive and motivated; sponsors are giving their time for these projects and students must respect this commitment and deliver a strong product.

Classroom Setting: In addition to the project work, we will meet together for 8-10 sessions over the course of the semester. Classroom time will be used for a mix of skill building, guests and a time to come together to share challenges, learn from each other and seek feedback across teams. Interactive guest lectures will provide focus on building skills in the investment process from data sourcing and research to risk management and operations to asset allocation. The content of these sessions will help support the work students are doing in the field; there may also be time outside of the classroom to engage these guests for feedback on the projects. Students will be expected to present twice during the semester. There will be a brief presentation mid-way through the semester to update the class on the project and their firm. Final presentations will simulate an investment committee, allowing peers to actively participate in an investment committee-like setting. Teams will be expected to have regular meetings with faculty.

Course Requirements and Grading

In addition to attending all the classroom discussions, students are expected to spend 3-5 hours a week working on their projects. Students will present twice over the semester to their peers and also give one final presentation to the investment committee of their sponsoring firm.

Students will be asked to submit their final presentation along with a short self-reflection at the end of the semester. These materials in combination with peer and company feedback and classroom participation will determine a student's grade.