With Penn’s Alumni Weekend running from May 15th through May 18th this year, we’re taking the month of May to salute some of our amazing M&T alumni. This special A Day in the Life post comes to us from M&T alum Brandon Christie, currently an Associate at New Enterprise Associates.
Please briefly describe what industry you’re in and what your particular position entails.
I’m an Associate at the venture capital firm, New Enterprise Associates (NEA). We invest in technology companies at a variety of investment stages across the world. I primarily spend my time seeking and evaluating new investment opportunities and working with existing portfolio companies. While we tend to invest across the whole technology spectrum, I find myself most interested in enterprise software, financial technology, and consumer marketplaces.
What time did you get up this morning before work?
Today I woke up at 6:30 AM. I like to do a little morning workout before driving down to our office in Menlo Park (an hour or so away from San Francisco) to be in the office meeting with companies by 9 AM.
What time did you start working, and what time were you done for the day?
I started working at 9 AM and try to leave the office around 7 PM. I usually find myself back online for a few hours at home going through emails and getting ahead for the next day.
What were some of the projects you worked on today?
Today was quite a busy day! I had three one-hour long meetings with new companies we haven’t met before. During these meetings, the founders will deliver their company pitch and I’ll ask questions to determine if it’s a fit for NEA and worth a follow-up meeting. I then spent time performing diligence on an enterprise software company that we’d like to invest in. I spoke to one of the company’s customers to learn about their experience with the product and called a third party industry expert who is very knowledgeable about the industry. I then spent time diving deep into the company’s business metrics trying to better understand customer engagement and their financial projections. Finally, I wrapped up my day going through new emails from potential companies to determine if they’d be worth schedule meetings with.
Who specifically did you interact with today, besides coworkers (clients, interns, researchers, executives, founders, etc.)?
I interacted with founders of companies we might invest in, customers of those companies, and an industry expert.
Are you currently traveling or about to travel for work?
No, most of the companies that I work with are local in the Bay Area.
What was your favorite part of the work day?
I love meeting new companies. It’s fun and exciting to hear about what problems people are solving.
What are some of the challenges within your position that you particularly enjoy?
In this industry, the future is so unclear that just about anyone can be right. It’s extremely difficult to predict whether a company will be successful, but I love the exercise of thinking through the bigger picture trends driving an investment thesis.
How did you end up in your current position or school?
After a two year stint in investment banking at Barclays, I was looking to get closer to the tech/startup world. After coming across NEA during my venture capital job search, I was blown away by the history of the firm and knew it would be a great place to work.
How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
The M&T Program has already been instrumental at every step of my young career. My current role is the perfect mix of business and technology. Having a finance background is incredibly helpful when thinking through how to value and model out projections for a potential investment. As a technology investor, I meet mostly with engineers and so having an engineering background allows me to more effectively communicate with tech founders.
The M&T community is very strong in the Bay Area as well. I keep in touch with a number of M&T students in my class as well as those a year above and below me.
What advice do you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a similar path?
Use your free time to practice for the job you want. It’s quite easy to put on your venture capital hat and think about what types of investments you would make if you were currently working at a venture capital firm. Once you land that dream interview in the industry, you’ll have so much to talk about!
Brandon is currently an Associate at NEA in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Penn and M&T in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Science Engineering from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton with a concentration in Finance. Brandon loves playing soccer, trying new foods, and traveling in Turkey.