CIS Events

Double alumna Catherine Nicholas, Managing Partner and CIO of Nicholas Investment Partners, returns to the Marshall School of Business to share her insights on the small-mid cap investment universe.


CIS Events

SIF and USIF Alumni attend a networking event with the current classes at VanEck in New York.


CIS Events

Jack Woodruff, Portfolio Manager for Surveyor Capital - Citadel, is featured as a guest speaker in the Leading Voices in Business series.


2020 Student Investment Fund Annual Meeting Keynote
by Howard Marks

Howard Marks

Howard Marks, Co-Chairman, Oaktree Capital Management

May 5, 2020 - The USC Marshall Center for Investment Studies and its Board, hosted the 34th Student Investment Fund Annual Meeting via Zoom. The first-ever virtual meeting had a record attendance, with over 200 USC Marshall Students, Alumni and Friends participating from all over the world.

Legendary investor Howard Marks, Co-Chairman, Oaktree Capital Management, provided his investment insights during an engaging one-hour discussion moderated by SIF 2015 alum Rubin Miller, Regional Manager at Dimensional Fund Advisors. CIS Board Member Sheldon Stone, Director, Principal and Portfolio Manager at Oaktree Capital Management, provides the introduction. We thank Mr. Marks for his time and expertise.

Click here to listen to the keynote.

2020 Undergraduate Student Investment Fund Annual Meeting Keynote by Greg Padilla

Greg Padilla

Greg Padilla, Principal, Portfolio Manager & Sr. Global Research Analyst, Aristotle Capital Management

April 29, 2020 - The USC Marshall Center for Investment Studies (CIS) and its Board, hosted the 13th Undergraduate Student Investment Fund (USIF) Annual Meeting via Zoom. USIF 2020 Managers presented their Annual Report, describing their course experience and a record of achievements, to CIS Board Members, USIF Alumni and Friends.

SIF 2006 Alumni Greg Padilla, Principal, Portfolio Manager and Sr. Global Research Analyst at Aristotle Capital Management, presented the keynote speech “Research Matters”. We thank Mr. Padilla for his time and expertise.

Click here to listen to the keynote.


Buy-Side Career Panel co-sponsored by VIG/CIS: November 2019

On November 18,2019, USC’s Value Investing Group (VIG) and the USC Marshall Business School's Center for Investment Studies (CIS) co-hosted a Buy-Side Career Panel moderated by Professor Scott Abrams.

The panel featured Florian Gruessing, Founder of Wlnss, an on-demand wellness platform, former Investment Analyst at Coatue Management and former Private Equity Associate at KKR & Co.; Steve Moyer, J.D., Author of Distressed Debt Analysis, Adjunct Professor in Finance and Business Economics at USC, and former Portfolio Manager at PIMCO; Chris Lay, CEO at Wave Crest Financial; Anton Finucane-Courreges, Senior Associate at Lightbay Capital; and Michael Aronson, Associate at Oaktree Capital Management, former Investment Banking Analyst at Lazard.

The five panelists spent 90 minutes sharing their wisdom of decades of combined experience on the buy-side, discussing recruitment, current industry trends, the state of the economy, and the methods of making a successful career. 

The discussion began with each panelist providing a brief synopsis of his career, followed by 80 minutes of moderated questions.  The panelists then took questions from the audience for 30 minutes, and concluded the event with an extended networking session where they helped guide students to a career they are truly passionate about.

We appreciate the panel for generously sharing their time and expertise with USC Marshall students.

VIG Panel 11.18.19         VIA Buyside Panel

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Leading Voices in Business presents Catherine Nicholas, Nicholas Investment Partners: November 2019

Recap coming shortly..

To see excerpts from past LViB events, please visit

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Ovarian CanceRx Conference/New Approaches to Accelerating Biomedical Innovation: June 2019

The USC Marshall Center for Investment Studies is pleased to have Co-sponsored the New Approaches to Accelerating Biomedical Innovation: Ovarian Cancer Conference that was held at the USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, CA. Jointly hosted by USC, the Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator at Harvard Business School, and the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering (LFE), this event focused on innovative approaches to developing new therapeutics and technologies for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

This meeting brought together a group of key stakeholders and thought leaders from academic medical centers and university research laboratories, financial institutions, pharma and biotech, government, non-profits, and patient advocates to explore ways to reduce the risk and uncertainty. Participants engaged in active panel discussions regarding specific funding needs, potential new business and legal structures, and new sources of capital to fund such enterprises.

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SIF 2019 Annual Meeting: April 30, 2019
The Center for Investment Studies hosted the SIF 2019 Annual Meeting on April 30, 2019 at the USC University Club.  SIF 2019 Managers presented their Annual Report, describing their course experience and record of achievements, to CIS Board Members, USIF Alumni and Friends. Mr. David Iben, CIO and Portfolio Manager at Kopernik Global Investors, LLC., presented the keynote speech "The Case for Active Management".

SIF 2019 Annual Meeting Collage

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USIF 2019 Annual Meeting: April 24, 2019

The Center for Investment Studies hosted the USIF 2019 Annual Meeting on April 24, 2019 at the USC University Club.  USIF 2019 Managers presented their Annual Report, describing their course experience and a record of achievements, to CIS Board Members, USIF Alumni and Friends. Mr. Hal Reynolds, CIO of Los Angeles Capital, presented the keynote speech.

For excerpts from the USIF 2019 Annual Report, please click here.

usif 2019 annual meeting

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USIF/VIG Buy-Side Career Panel: February 2019

 On FebrVIG Buy side panel Feb. 2019uary 6, 2019, USC’s Value Investing Group (VIG), the USC Marshall Business     School’s Undergraduate Student Investment Fund (USIF) and the Center for Investment   Studies (CIS) co-hosted a Buy-side Career Panel moderated by Professor Fernando   Zapatero, CIS Co-Director.

 The panel featured Steve Algert, Managing Director and Assistant Treasurer for The J.   Paul Getty Trust; Dan Clancy, Associate at Shamrock Capital Advisors; and Florian   Gruessing, Founder of Wlnss, an on-demand wellness platform and Former Private   Equity Associate for KKR & Co.

 The three panelists have decades of combined experience in asset management, private   equity and hedge funds, and spent 90 minutes sharing nuances within the industry and the character traits necessary to create success.

VIG President Matt Myrtle said “In speaking with attendees after the event, I gathered that most students were inspired by the creative thought that each of the panelists employed in their careers. The personal setting of the panel created a less intimidating environment for asking questions. I feel like all of us walked away with a sense of newfound career motivation after hearing about the heights that the panelists reached on the buy-side.”

The discussion opened with the panelists’ sharing their interesting and varied professional backgrounds. Algert began his finance career in fixed income research and risk management at BARRA, a pioneer of finance intelligence data. After his time at BARRA, he worked in Citigroup Alternative Investments’ hedge funds group. From there he moved to the Treasurer's Office of the Regents of the University of California, managing investments for the pension plan and endowment. Then ultimately, and through networking, Algert landed his dream job as the Managing Director, for the $7 billion Getty Endowment. 

Florian Gruessing got his start in finance in a less traditional way.  A healthcare graduate of Cambridge, who’s interest in financial markets and completely green,  landed himself a junior analyst investment banking position with Morgan Stanley in London. After learning in the trenches, Gruessing moved to a private equity with KKR.  Longing for more “action”, Gruessing moved to NYC with the tech focused hedge fund giant, Coatue. He spent three years in the public markets before leaving to startup a wellness website, Wlnss. 

Dan Clancy brought a fresh perspective on the job market, as recent USC graduate with a dual degree in Economics and Human Biology.  After graduation, Clancy moved to New York for Morgan Stanley, learning the ropes as an Investment Banking analyst.  He was recruited back to LA, where he now works with entertainment and media specialists Shamrock Capital in their private equity division.

Professor Zapatero asked the panel to explain what a Portfolio Manager does, and what skills it takes to be successful. Gruessing immediately pointed out that there’s a big difference between the private and public markets.  Clancy explained private equity associates work on the data and research analysis under a Supervisor and ultimately under the Portfolio Manager, who’s responsible for the building business and client retention.  While less opportunity for immediate advancement, private equity is well-suited for analytical and process oriented personalities.  Private equity may work on 2-3 deals a year, the public markets see 2+ turns a day.  Gruessing advised public markets is looking for a disruptor or initiator in a trend. 

The panelists then took questions from the audience, addressing everything from career advice (Algert joked he graduated into 2 recessions and emphasized the importance of building your network/echoed by the other panelists) to unlocking the potential of big data for private equity management.  

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Leading Voices in Business presents Jack Woodruff, Surveyor Capital - Citadel: January 2019
jack Woodruff 2019

The Full-Time MBA program at the USC Marshall School of Business Leading Voices in Business speaker series brings senior executive leaders as well as prominent Marshall scholars to the classroom to speak with graduate business students.  

On January 10th, USC’s Marshall Graduate Student Association (MGSA) and the Center for Investment Studies (CIS) co-presented the 2019 series kick-off event featuring Jack Woodruff, Portfolio Manager for Surveyor Capital – Citadel.

CIS Co-director Suh-Pyng Ku introduced Woodruff to a room full of Marshall students.  MBA and Student Investment Fund program student Devon Carew moderated the vibrant discussion with Woodruff, where they chatted about his investment philosophy, the importance of a systematic investment process, and career advice.

Woodruff shared his professional background, which began with an Accounting degree from USC.  Upon graduation, he worked for Ernst & Young before getting his MBA at NYU Stern. Woodruff then crossed paths with Gabe Plotkin, who he describes as a “total superstar”, at a now-defunct NYC hedge fund.  They quickly became friends, and moved to SAC together.  After five years under Plotkin’s mentorship at SAC, he was approached by Citadel to head up a team of 20 professionals at Surveyor Capital. 

Investment Philosophy

Woodruff’s team focuses on long-term equity investments through individual stock picking.   When asked about his investment philosophy, Woodruff says “…So it's about knowing our companies inside and out, and so by holding ourselves out to be more industry experts and sector specialists, we're much more focused on sort of identifying when a business is going to change. So we can get involved in hyper-growth. We can get involved in deep value. We can get involved in special set. It doesn't really matter."  Woodruff also emphasized the importance of timing. Part of investing is timing, and being right and being early is wrong because you're early, or being late is, obviously, really wrong.”

Process is Everything

Woodruff then described how his team implements its investment strategy. “So process is everything. That's pretty much where I spend the majority of my time, really thinking about how we do our job. And it's all about having a sustainable process that allows you to maximize your chances and allows you to get out of losers and maximize winners.”  Having this systematic process in place is critical for effective analysis, and leads to better decisions.

Be Wrong Small, Be Right Big

When asked about data analytics, Woodruff described how tech has changed the investment landscape.  What once was a competitive advantage is now readily available.  Strategies have shifted to interpret the signals created when new information is released. Correct data interpretations through scenario analysis and behavioral finance guide his decision-making. Then he tells the audience “If you're going to be wrong, be wrong small. If you're going to be right, be right big.” 

Woodruff cautions not to be reliant on one data point.  “You put yourself in a position where you're reliant on one data point, and if that data point comes in wrong-- because if you need one data point to hit, I guarantee it's the wrong one going to hit.”

Learn the Fundamentals

Carew asked Woodruff for advice for students who are just beginning their careers in investment banking.  Woodruff immediately recommended learning the fundamentals. “I mean, the best thing I ever did was just get a really good, solid foundation of the fundamentals. I mean, having the accounting background was great for me. Accounting is just a language. It's just kind of understanding financial statements, how they work. And that, to me, was great. And it's funny that the lessons from accounting and the lessons from business school are how I've sort of built my entire career.”  He says he still integrates SWOT analysis, five forces, and DCFs (“the best valuation tool”) into his current process and financial models.

To see excerpts from past LViB events, please visit

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Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor of Allianz: November 2014

The Center for Investment Studies hosted Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor of Allianz, Chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council, and former CEO/CIO of PIMCO, as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series at an invitation only event at the Galen Center Founder’s Room.

Dr. El-Erian currently serves as chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council and the Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz. Until the beginning of this year, he served as CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO. He re-joined PIMCO in 2008 after serving for two years as president and CEO of Harvard Management Company, the entity that manages Harvard’s endowment and related accounts. Dr. El-Erian also served as a member of the faculty of Harvard Business School and as deputy treasurer of the University. He first joined PIMCO in 1999, as managing director and was a senior member of PIMCO’s portfolio management and investment strategy group. Before coming to PIMCO, Dr. El-Erian was a managing director at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in London and before that, he spent 15 years at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. Dr. El-Erian has published widely on international economic and finance topics and has served on several boards and committees, including the Emerging Markets Traders Association and the IMF’s Committee of Eminent Persons.

He is currently a board member of the International Center for Research on Women and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is also a member of the U.S. Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee and the IMF’s Capital Markets Consultative Group, and chairs Microsoft’s Investment Advisory Committee.

He has 25 years of investment experience and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Oxford University. He received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge University.

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