SPOTLIGHT ON CHARLOTTE FAN, T’12

“Stay the course, be committed to your goals, and never stop learning.”


JULY 3, 2020 | BY LILY ZHU

Charlotte currently resides in NYC and works as Associate Director at DFG Investment Advisers, an alternative credit asset management firm with about $7 billion under management. At DFG, she is responsible for business development, marketing, client relations, and research

activities. Prior to joining DFG, she was a Portfolio Analyst at AlpInvest Partners, a fund-of-funds subsidiary of The Carlyle Group, where she focused on portfolio analysis, investor relations, and marketing. She started her career at BlackRock as a Client Solutions Analyst, conducting portfolio analysis and relationship management for institutional clients of

BlackRock’s Aladdin platform.


During her time at Duke, Charlotte majored in Economics with a Finance concentration. Aside from BOW, she participated in DukeEngage Trinidad & Tobago and subsequently served as Co-Chair of the DukeEngage Student Advisory Committee. In addition, Charlotte was an international student from Shanghai and served as an International Student Representative on Duke Student Government. She was also a member of the Duke University Union (DUU) Executive Marketing Committee, responsible for DUU’s branding, marketing, and social media efforts.


What is your most meaningful memory from your time at Duke?

My most meaningful memory at Duke comprises a series of fun and memorable trips with fellow Dukies. These unique experiences helped me build meaningful connections and shaped the way I see the world. Through the DukeEngage program, I spent my freshman year summer in Trinidad and Tobago working on a social entrepreneurship project. I worked with local governments, business associations, and small business owners to regulate public open air markets across the country while promoting the growth of small businesses. I also took a week-long trip to the Everglades National Park for an environmental conservation project with fellow volunteers from the Duke Community Service Center. I am also an avid hiker. In my senior year, I went on a backpacking adventure in the Pisgah National Forest with friends from Project WILD. These trips are all excellent ways to connect with local communities, learn new skills, and bond with fellow Duke students.


How has mentorship, both within BOW and outside of BOW, played a role in your career

path?

BOW is an extremely inclusive community where I have built organic, long-lasting connections with other Duke women who share similar goals. Through networking with BOW members and alumnae, I was able to explore various career paths within business early on. During the second semester of my junior year, I participated in the Duke in NY: Financial Markets and Institutions program, during which I gained firsthand knowledge of the financial sector and “mini-internship” experiences through shadowing several BOW alumnae working at banks and asset management firms. During job interview seasons, I received invaluable advice and interview practices from the BOW community.


I have continued to stay engaged with this community post-graduation. While in NYC, I get

together with BOW alumnae regularly. I have also volunteered to be a mentor, offering career help to current members and sometimes other alumnae. I have also participated in BOW-organized career panels on campus when I visited Duke.


Outside of BOW, I volunteer at Streetwise Partners, a NY-based career mentoring non-profit

dedicated to assisting underserved demographics with achieving their career dreams through semester-based career counseling and professional development programs.


How did you transition from portfolio analytics at BlackRock and The Carlyle Group to

your current job at DFG Investment Advisers? What were the most challenging and

fulfilling aspects of the transition?

Both of my positions at BlackRock and Carlyle exposed me to servicing and communicating

with investors while honing my analytical and investment accounting skills. I was looking for a

more hybrid role that would use a combination of these skills. I came across the job opportunity at DFG through an online job posting.


The most challenging aspect of the transition was the asset class expertise expected for the role. For background, DFG is a NY-based asset management firm that specializes in a relatively niche sector of the credit market—structured credit/collateralized loan obligations (CLOs)/leveraged loans. Through studying for the CFA exam, reading industry publications, and conducting informational interviews with industry contacts and Duke alumni, I had a good understanding of these asset classes going into the interviews.


In contrast to BlackRock and Carlyle, DFG is a boutique firm with less than 50 employees.

Therefore, the culture at DFG is much more entrepreneurial and hands-on. Working at DFG has exposed me to the ins and outs of an asset management firm, from operations and finance to investment processes and investor relations. Oftentimes, I am given the opportunity to lead a new project, initiate outreach to a new prospect, attend industry conferences and marketing roadshows, and participate in strategic decision-making along with the management team. I am very appreciative of the transition, which has offered me tremendous learning opportunities amidst a highly inclusive and diverse professional community.


What is an obstacle that you’ve faced in your career path, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest question I had early on in my career path was how to narrow down the various

career options that I wanted to pursue. As a first-year generalist within a gigantic financial

organization, I explored different paths within asset management while figuring out my interests and strengths. After conducting research, I decided to focus on alternative investments, a growing and exciting field that serves highly sophisticated investors. The transition from my generalist role to my next job at a private equity firm was challenging. I tried to accumulate as much relevant experience on my resume as possible and engaged headhunters who specialize in this sector. Eventually, through the introduction of an independent recruiter and over half a year of preparation, I landed at AlpInvest Partners, a subsidiary of The Carlyle Group.


What is something you’re passionate about, aside from your job? How are you pursuing

that passion?

I have developed an interest in classical music since a young age. My home in Shanghai was a ten-minute walk from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and a concert venue, where my

parents took me regularly for music appreciation. I started playing the accordion at about six and later picked up the piano as well. Last year, I became a member of the Lincoln Center Young Patron program and later was invited to join the gala committee, where I have been helping with fundraising and event planning. I appreciate the opportunity to play an active role to help promote and support Lincoln Center and performing arts with the goal to make arts accessible to many.


What advice do you have for this year’s graduating seniors?

Year 2020 is a very challenging time to graduate. It is important to stay mentally and physically strong during these special times and remain resilient and ready for new opportunities once economies resume. In short, stay the course, be committed to your goals, and never stop learning.

Copyright © 2018 Duke Association for Business Oriented Women.

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