Nearly 80 people packed into the Joy Burns Center on Presidents Day to hear what two DU graduates had to share about their successful careers in finance. It was part of the Reiman School of Finance’s Distinguished Alumni Day.
“This is our 12th year of honoring two of our distinguished alumni each year,” Mac Clouse, professor of finance, said. “It is always a great event to have them come to campus and share their experiences and advice with our students. We have a plaque in the Reiman School office with 24 very impressive names.”
Josh Tanzer (BSAcc 1983) and Otto Tschudi (BSBA 1975) were the two distinguished alumni honored for outstanding achievements in the finance field.
Tanzer is the Global Head of Jefferies’ Technology Private Placements group in Los Angeles. Over the past 25 years, he has raised more than $7 billion in growth equity capital for 143 companies and has produced over $12 billion of private equity gains for investors. He has raised capital for some of the most high-profile companies in the technology sector, including Salesforce.com, Virgin America, Vonage, Commerce One, Datek, Beachbody, and, most recently, JetSmarter.
Tschudi is Managing Director of International Sales for Stifel Financial. The company is in San Francisco, but he launched the London office in 2003 and currently works from there. He began his career in Finance as a Senior Managing Director of International Sales for Montgomery Securities in San Francisco in 1982. Tschudi is also known for his professional skiing career from 1972-1983. He also participated in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, representing his home country of Norway.
The two shared about their career paths, both somewhat nontraditional given their initial majors and interested coming out of DU. Tanzer planned on taking a job for a bank in New York until a chance encounter with Chancellor Ross Pritchard who encouraged him to go into the Peace Corp, since the Corp was taking business volunteers for the first time. Tanzer took a position in the Dominican Republic working on micro lending for a bank.
“The bank was lending businesses in the slums 25 Pecos or 100 Pecos and they had grown to a very large portfolio,” he said. “They had 20 loan processors and needed a computerized accounting system. I was a couple of months out of college and the manager put me in charge of it.”
Tazner and Tschudi encouraged the DU students to take risks early on in their careers and make sure to get international experience.
“If I was your age, I’d go to China and learn Chinese, get a broader base, travel, get an internship,” Tschudi said. “We’re going to be more and more global, everything is going to be much more global.”
Tschudi got his international experience young. As a young boy growing up in Krodsherad, Norway, he went to his first ski race at 14 and won. It launched his competitive skiing career, traveling around Europe. His parents agreed to it as long as he kept his grades up. He did so well, a coach recruited him, offering him an education at DU.
After receiving his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Tschudi made a living as a world pro skier for 17 years. He started a clothing company, designed equipment. Along his path, he met Will Weinstein, who encouraged Tschudi to change careers and work with him at Montgomery Securities.
Tschudi and Tanzer encouraged students to be intentional with their connections. The people they met had a tremendous impact on their careers.
“Life just happens,” Tschudi said. “You never know who you’re going to meet; that person might change your life. This was the case with me. You should also have a pitch in your head about what you’re really passionate about.”
Through Tanzer’s contacts, he got a job in a training program at a bank in New York after leaving the Peace Corp. He didn’t like being a lender, so was excited when a woman called to see if he was interested in working at a private equity boutique. He jumped at the opportunity and learned to raise capital predominantly for tech companies. Similarly, to Tschudi, he was contacted by a successful person in the field Frank Patron. Patron offered Tanzer a job in San Francisco and he took the offer.
“I have an expression,” Tanzer said. “I never want to be smartest person in the room.” He explained how important it is for students to surround themselves by bright, well-traveled, keen mentors. Figuring out how to work for good people is critical.
Tanzer and Tschudi were joined by three previous distinguished alumni Sam Cassetta, Eivind Lorgen (BSBA 1985) and Don Richards (MBA 1983).