Nina Yudell, B.S. ’81 and M.B.A. ’82, is a partner at Brown Advisory. She is portfolio manager and co-manager of the Brown Advisory Flexible Value Fund and is a member of the Dean's Advisory Board.
Yudell recently sat down with the Merrick Exchange and shared some thoughts about her career and the Merrick School of Business Speaker Series.
Merrick Exchange: How did you decide on a career in investment management?
Nina Yudell: I was interested in pursuing a career in the investment field and early on I determined that the area of investment management best suited my interests, abilities and character. I also thought it was one of the areas in the investment field least subject to conflicts of interest with clients.
ME: Where did you get your start? What led you to your current position?
NY: I was very lucky to get my start at T. Rowe Price for my first investment related position. I left the firm when we moved from Maryland because my husband accepted a new job. When we were looking to return to Maryland, I learned of an opening at Alex. Brown Investment Management (ABIM) through a friend at T. Rowe Price. I accepted ABIM’s offer in 1992. In 2008, ABIM merged into Brown Advisory. Brown Advisory is an investment advisory firm with offices in Baltimore, Washington D.C., Boston and London.
ME: How would you describe your current position as a portfolio manager at Brown Advisory?
NY: I am responsible for offering investment guidance to high net worth individual and institutional clients and investing their assets primarily in common stocks and fixed income securities such as municipals and corporate bonds. I’m engaged in many activities including researching new investment ideas. It is a team effort to best serve our clients at Brown Advisory and we work together in a supportive and collegial environment.
ME: What are some challenges that you, your department or company are facing?
NY: As an investment firm, our ongoing challenge is to provide our clients with above average investment returns relative to our peers and benchmarks over longer periods of time. Fortunately, the firm has a great group of investment professionals who have been able to achieve very good results for our clients.
Maintaining our culture is always a challenge as we grow. By making every employee a shareholder, we instill a sense of “ownership” in every person in the firm. This inspires a high degree of loyalty, low employee turnover, and aligns our interests with those of our clients. Regular “all hands” meetings are also helpful in making every person in the firm feel an integral part of what we do and fostering good communication among employees.
ME: What were your expectations in pursuing a career in investment management?
NY: I had hoped to earn a good living, achieve professional success, a sense of pride for my accomplishments and personal satisfaction in helping clients reach their investment goals.
ME: What advice would you give to students who might want to pursue a career in your field but are undecided?
NY: I would encourage students to learn as much as they can about investing, the economy and the financial markets. Reading The Wall Street Journal each day is an excellent start to determine their interest in business and finance. My best advice for students is to find meaningful work that they would enjoy doing every day.
ME: What's the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew?
NY: Students should start building professional relationships and establishing their reputation early on in their educational and professional pursuits. It helps to have strong personal recommendations when you are job hunting. Persistence and patience are key. The job market is still tight today and it may take time to find what you want.
ME: Why did you choose to attend UB?
NY: I began my studies at Towson University as a psychology major but switched to business. In my sophomore year, my uncle, whose opinion I respected, recommended the business program at the University of Baltimore. The college was accredited and had a good reputation in the Baltimore business community, especially for their accounting program. My uncle thought that I might be a candidate for a Merit Scholarship. I transferred to UB for my junior and senior years and stayed on as a Merit Scholarship recipient to earn my M.B.A.
ME: How has attending UB helped you in your career?
NY: The University of Baltimore provided me with a solid foundation upon which to start my career in Baltimore. My interest in finance and investing grew because of the classes at UB. I had excellent professors who motivated me to study and to pursue topics and subjects in finance that interested me the most.
ME: Tell us about your experiences in attending Merrick School of Business Speaker Series events.
NY: I applaud everyone at UB who is involved in coordinating and promoting the Merrick Speaker Series events. To date, there has been an impressive line-up of speakers including Steve Forbes and others such as Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, Gillian Tett of the Financial Times and David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal who offered timely and relevant commentary on the forces affecting our economy and markets. These events were a good opportunity for me to engage with colleagues outside of the office as many have attended with me.
ME: What personal goal have you set for yourself this year?
NY: My goal is to do things better and to learn something new, in essence, to make progress. I consider my life as a process of improvement and education.
ME: What is the last book you read?
NY: In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy. It’s a fascinating book describing Google’s history, founders and culture. The author explains Internet search and how Google makes money. It is an insightful book about the process of innovation and establishing and growing a new company.
ME: What does your future look like?
NY: I have been very fortunate in my personal and professional life. I’m optimistic and hopeful for what the future may hold for me.