When you speak with Stephanie Landry, your first impression is that she is a genuine people person. But once you learn her background, you’ll notice a real dichotomy exists between her tender-hearted personality and her years as a trader on a hedge fund desk.
Landry was well prepared for the punishing hours she devoted to high finance. From a young age throughout high school, Landry she piled up hours and hours practicing gymnastic routines, which engrained in her a deep-seated sense of discipline but also revealed the rewards of hard work. Landry transitioned from high-energy gymnastics into fast-paced global equities trading after graduating from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2008 with a degree in finance and economics. After internships at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, she became the first female undergraduate hire to Citadel Investment Group’s trading desk.
Two years later, she moved to the largest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates, to work as a fixed income trading associate. “After undergrad my ambition was not to get an MBA,” she recalls, “but after spending time on a trading desk, I came to realize that the lifestyle and culture of finance is not something that would make me happy long term.”
At Wharton, Landry was instrumental in getting the People Analytics Conference off the ground in its inaugural year in 2014. She took the reigns as conference chair this past year and recalls it as one of her fondest memories of business school. Among other things, she also was involved in the Data and Analytics Club as well as the Technology Club–all of which led to her being named to Poets&Quants’ most exceptional MBA graduates in the Class of 2015.
Landry did her summer internship with Apple and realized her innate love for tech. “As a child I was very stubborn and I always asked ‘why’ when told not to do something,” she explains. “Tech is so satisfying because people don’t get told ‘no’ as often, and I appreciate that. It’s exciting to work in an industry where we’re changing the world.”
After finishing business school, Stephanie will return to Apple to work in the business development and strategy arm of the iPhone vertical.
When I received word that I got into Wharton, I was already planning on attending another school. I was hooked on that school; I even bought the t-shirt! However, I still committed myself to going to both schools’ Welcome Weekends. Wharton’s was first and I was blown away by the energy and camaraderie among the students. They were simultaneously extremely humble and extremely hungry – it took me weeks to get a sense of everyone’s background and achievements because no one felt the need to prove anything. Then, I went to the other school’s Welcome Weekend and I left halfway through the first day. The experience was the polar opposite of what I had just experienced at Wharton. That’s when I knew Wharton was where I wanted to live out my business school experience, and I could not be happier about my decision.
While working at Citadel, I focused solely on trading and learning market microstructure. When I moved to Bridgewater Associates, I began working on improving our trading strategy in order to trade at a lower cost. For example, if I wanted to put a position on in Brazil, I had to understand the best way to do it, how big the position should be, and what instruments to utilize.
That’s where I realized I enjoyed the analytical work – finding the secrets of the data that weren’t so obvious. What invigorated me was figuring out puzzles to trade better and seeing real value because of what I did yesterday. Bridgewater’s culture is their way of being, and I loved it because nothing was behind closed doors so I never had to play office politics.
Honestly, it took a lot of convincing before I decided to go back to school. Coming out of undergrad, I had no plans of ever going back. It was a scary decision for me because I didn’t know what it would mean for my career. However, now more than ever, I am cognizant of the fact that it’s nearly impossible to understand what a career path is really like until you’re actually in it. For me, it was the realization that the lifestyle I had while working in finance was not one that would allow me to be happy and healthy in the long term. I had no idea what I wanted to do outside of finance, and it was a huge risk to leave a “good” job with no sense of what the alternatives would look like.