NOVEMBER 21, 2017 | BY EKIM BUYUK AND SHRUTI RAO
Clare is a part of the Strategy team at LeapFrog, spearheading strategic initiatives to build robust growth outcomes for the company. Before joining LeapFrog, Clare was a Vice President at BlackRock in the Institutional Client Business, based in New York. Here she developed and maintained client relationships, particularly with foundations, endowments and family offices, representing over $16 billion in assets under management. She was also a product strategist for BlackRock’s sustainable investing platform, educating clients on sustainable investing, and developing impact products for public and private markets. Clare also Chaired the New York operating committee of the BlackRock’s Women’s Initiative Network. Prior to this, Clare worked at Goldman Sachs as a Financial Investment Professional in Private Wealth Management. She provided investment advice, trade execution, and portfolio management for high net worth individuals, including current and former partners of Goldman Sachs. Clare holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, Columbia University, New York, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Duke University, North Carolina.
What was your favorite part of being in BOW?
I joined BOW when it was just getting started. My favorite part was the event programming, specifically the private recruiting events. I thought the targeted recruiting events were incredibly helpful and intimate. I also really enjoyed meeting older women in the organization who helped to guide me to my current career path.
Could you talk a little bit about your summer experiences while at Duke and how they influenced your career path?
I was an art history major and had a strong liberal arts background. I met older women at Duke through BOW who helped me get an internship at UBS Financial Services. That is what propelled me into finance after college, so my internship after my junior year was particularly important. Since I hadn’t gone the traditional Economics route, meeting BOW women helped me take a risk and try something totally different. I probably wouldn’t have had a career in finance had it not been for my early start in the industry.
Could you talk a little bit about your roles at BlackRock and Goldman Sachs?
I was in Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs. You’re really a generalist working with high net worth individuals and focusing on their long-term financial planning. I learned about various asset classes such as cash, alternatives, equity etc. Overall, it was a great exposure for me to learn about various asset classes.
At BlackRock, I worked in corporate strategy helping the firm think about how to be a top asset management firm. What are the trends going on in the industry? What are the firm’s strengths that need to be further developed? I then moved into the sales side similar to my role at Goldman. I was working with foundations and endowments helping them to think about how to manage their portfolio.
How did your background at large financial firms prepare you for your current role at LeapFrog Investments?
At BlackRock I started working with college endowments that were facing pressure to invest in things that aligned with their mission. I started to think about sustainable investing at BlackRock where you are excluding certain industries like fossil fuels. Now I am at an impact investing firm and they invest specifically in companies that provide basic services like healthcare and financial services to people living below the poverty line in Asia and Africa. We try to create a private equity fund like KKR that focuses not just on the financial side, but also on how to do good with that money.
Why did you make this move?
Impact investing starts in the same place as traditional finance jobs since we are looking for financial returns. However, we also have another element of our job with is asking, “what is the societal impact that this company has?” Both my parents worked in non profits in NYC so I always wanted to work with companies that were trying to do good. When impact investing became popular, I knew I wanted to be part of it. Finance is such an established career path, that it is exciting to be part of something different.
What is your day to day like?
I work now in strategy so I think a lot about how LeapFrog can continue to grow and be considered one of the top investing impact firms in the world? Are we focused on the right services? Should we keep focusing on healthcare and financial services? I think a lot about broader growth opportunities for the firm?
What advice do you have for current Duke students trying to navigate their job search?
The Duke network is really impressive. I don’t think I realized that enough and now that you’re in college, use people who are older to help you. The Duke network is tremendously helpful and will be a strong support system over time. Take advantage of it!