To be sure, it was an inauspicious start to a Wall Street career, but Michaela LeBlanc seemed to make the most of it. She had secured a job as an analyst with Bank of America, but she deferred one year in order to complete a Fulbright Scholarship in Germany from 2007-2008. As a result, her first day of work on Wall Street was September 15, 2008 – the same day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.
“My first experience working on a trading floor was during a crisis,” she recalls. “The S&P futures market opened limit down and people working there had never seen that before. It was quite intimidating but I had a great mentor and I loved it.” She promptly gained proficiency working in institutional equity sales and sifted through the rubble of the financial industry over the next few years, seizing opportunities as they arose.
One such opportunity brought her to Hong Kong, where she eventually joined JPMorgan and disseminated equity sales to hedge funds across Asia. Joining a robust expatriate community of finance professionals there, she started partaking in half-marathons and triathlons. Then before attending business school, she revved up her training and set out to complete one of the most rigorous physical challenges humanly possible – an Ironman at Lake Placid – starting with a 2.4 mile swim followed by 112 miles by bicycle, and a 26.2 mile run (a full marathon).
Michaela ardently supports women getting into the finance world and acts as a Mentor for Smart Woman Securities at Dartmouth. Additionally, she is a Tuck Admissions Associate, a co-chair of the Tuck Investment Club, and a portfolio manger for Tuck Asset Management. Her record of demonstrated leadership at Tuck recently landed Michaela on Poets&Quants’ best of the Class of 2015.
She enjoyed her summer internship with Goldman Sachs in New York City and will return to work there upon graduation in June. There, she will apply her insight of international sectors as a part of the Global Investment Research team.
Doing the Fulbright in Germany changed my life. I grew up in Cape Cod, went to a small high school, and then attended Smith College in Massachusetts, so I had a limited worldview and I wasn’t well traveled. I packed my bags and moved to Saarland, not knowing anyone, not having a place to live, and with a mediocre grasp of the language. I realized I was very far away from everything and everyone I knew and I freaked upon arrival, but then I figured things out and realized everything would be ok.
I was in Hong Kong when I began to think seriously about business school. From the start, I felt a special connection to a colleague at J.P. Morgan who attended Tuck. She introduced me to other successful Tuckies in Hong Kong. The strength of the Tuck network coupled with the success of the alumni led me to believe that Tuck was the right place for me. Additionally, I lived in dense cities for five years before my MBA and I was eager to take some time to live in a more rural area with a strong sense of community and incredible opportunity for outdoor adventures.
I completed the Lake Placid Ironman in the summer of 2013 and then, before classes started in fall, I did a one week Outward Bound sailing trip off the coast of Maine with 30 of my future classmates. Some of those 30 people became my best friends at Tuck. It was a great trip, but I was out of my element with no normal creature comforts or Starbucks. I was thrown out of this normal life into the middle of nowhere. I was glad to be back afterwards, but I wholeheartedly recommend doing it as a pre-term orientation program because it allows you to form strong relationships with your classmates so quickly.
I wanted to use business school as a pivot point to begin producing information rather than filtering and packaging it. Going into investment research will allow me to analyze companies, have discussions with management, and become an expert in different fields.
Tuck is great because it offers you the opportunity to apply the framework you’re learning in class to many industries. My “Investing and Deal Making in Healthcare” class was especially impactful because it brought together a faculty consisting of a venture capitalist, a prominent Wall Street healthcare investment banker, and two renowned professors from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. The class format focused on doing a deep dive into a specific M&A or IPO transaction each week. How to merge two public companies or how to take a company from idea to IPO with a major bank were transferable skills across any industry. We had people actually doing these deals come to our class and talk every week. Tuck has a strong MD/MBA program and there were about 10 of these students in my class, so talking to 5th year medical school students about the intricacies of the project at hand was incredible.
Three other students and I managed the Tuck Investment Club, where we help equip students with the resources they need to recruit for post-MBA investment management jobs. For example, we run an internal stock pitch competition and an idea competition on the Bloomberg terminal where 1M fake dollars are invested in the best ideas.