On Wednesday, April 8th, MBS trustee and alumnus Ravi Chopra ’97, the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Azora Capital, spoke with members of the BFI (Business, Finance and Investment) Club via Zoom. He traced his career path, gave advice to students seeking a career in finance, and offered his perspective on how the markets will recover after COVID-19.
Mr. Chopra is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Azora Capital, a hedge fund focused on financial services investing. Prior to starting Azora, he was Partner & Sector Head of U.S. Financial Services at Samlyn Capital. Mr. Chopra started his career as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Financial Institutions Group at Goldman Sachs. After earning his diploma from Morristown-Beard School, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude with an A.B. in Economics from Dartmouth College.
Mr. Chopra began his presentation by underscoring the importance of his Morristown-Beard School education. “I had a wonderful experience at Morristown-Beard School; I was there from 7th through 12th Grade and it was a formative time for me,” he said. “The faculty always went out of their way to care for the students and mentor them. It truly changed the path of my life.”
Mr. Chopra said the School has remained the same in terms of its culture and mission over the years, but he has seen tremendous change in the physical plant. “To walk around the campus and see the new Math & Science Center and the Center for Innovation & Design is really exciting,” he told the students. “I hope that you appreciate what a privilege it is to go to MBS.”
Attending Morristown-Beard School and Dartmouth College helped Mr. Chopra not only in terms of his education, but also in his ability to network. “Classmates at Dartmouth advocated for me at Goldman Sachs and helped me to land that interview and job. Having personal relationships matters a lot,” he said.
When discussing trends in his industry, Mr. Chopra emphasized the “staggering pace” of innovation in the world today. “Artificial intelligence and automation will change the landscape. A lot of jobs that you will have don’t even exist today,” he said. “The financial services industry will incorporate much more data technology. If this area interests you, you will need some element of data and computer science in your repertoire.”
Mr. Chopra told the students that he has a passion for three things that typically aren’t taught in schools, but should be — nutrition, behavioral psychology, and financial literacy. “Those are frontiers that I’d like to see explored more,” he said.
He concluded his presentation with a discussion of COVID-19, its effect on the economy, and when he sees a return to stability in the markets. “The real answer is that no one knows. We need to see how long it takes to flatten the curve and have a return to normalcy. This is an unprecedented situation and the longer it goes on, the more damage it does. Time really matters — especially when it comes to small businesses with limited cash,” he said. “The impact of the government stimulus will be an important variable.”