Hedge funds, entrepreneurship and quality contacts

I just finished off my classes and am attempting to contact some hedge fund managers in Hong Kong. Our school is sponsoring our international trip and I’ve chosen to visit Hong Kong for its strength in finance, low taxes and robust economic activity in general. Other classmates will be going to Spain, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

I have a list of names through my personal favourite social network, Bloomberg, which allows you to source fund managers who use Bloomberg or are identified by Bloomberg as key management. By filtering these individuals to a particular city and the investment industry, I was able to get a healthy list of two dozen managers in Hong Kong. I’ve also got a list of about 10 top venture capitalists in Shenzhen through another source and so now the real work begins in sending off e-mails and praying I get a receptive response.

The letter goes something along the lines of: “Dear successful investor, I am an indebted MBA student who would like to see what it’s like to be you.

“Out of the kindness of your heart, we would like to take time out of your busy schedule to talk to some students who have no idea what they want to do with their careers. Actually, we just know that we want to make a lot of money and lead people, but in terms of whether we want to do private equity, management consulting, investment banking or entrepreneurship, it’s all fair game.

“MBA students are quite flexible you know. Our wide skill set allows us to do everything except for laying the programming and technical groundworks for the next Google. However, we are good at negotiating our equity piece and adding value in business development, marketing and sales, accounting and finance or general management.”

I have said that I want to become an entrepreneur, but in Hong Kong, I feel that the cost of living is so high that it would make more sense to get a regular job and hope to someday make partner. In Beijing, it seems much easier to start something new because the technological talent in the country is top-notch and innovation is constantly being pushed to the limit.

In terms of people and contacts, it’s so important to develop quality contacts because I’ve learned that they will come in handy, particularly for one’s career.

I have already learned that I cannot be all things to all men and so during the limited time available, one must cut out the noise and swap people who are nice to meet for people who can really make an impact on your personal career and development.

I am grateful to my friends and contacts at Insead and HKUST to be able to learn from them and have decided that they should be the guys I need to continue to meet, not random people who want to just hang out and party. I’ll be sticking to business on this trip.