The Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing (NDIGI) is hosting the third annual Women’s Investing Summit (WIS) this week. Now virtual and spread out over a week as opposed to the usual day-long event, WIS Week consists of a series of speeches from women with extensive experience in different areas of investment, small group networking sessions and a student stock pitch competition.
The event aims to highlight women and other historically underrepresented groups in the asset management industry and also aid students, especially freshmen and sophomores, in career discernment, NDIGI associate director Mark Dumich said.
“Our goal is to reach students earlier in their academic career at Notre Dame,” he said. “We definitely want to engage freshmen and sophomores to come and learn about these career opportunities.”
Dumich said the decision to move WIS to a week-long format stemmed from fear that students would not be interested in an all-day Zoom conference. In past years, WIS was a one day conference held in the Dahnke Ballroom of Duncan Student Center, but this year, all of the events are spread out over five days and held on Zoom.
Managing director of NDIGI Erin Bellissimo explained while she is disappointed the speakers can’t come to campus this year, the virtual format allows for more intimate networking opportunities. These opportunities include small group networking sessions held Monday and Tuesday evening. Additionally, because the speakers don’t have to travel, it made it easier for a more diverse group of speakers to participate, Bellissimo said.
The virtual format made it possible for NDIGI to open up the event to students from other universities. In addition to Notre Dame students, about 24 students from 10 other universities will be participating in WIS Week, Dumich said. NDIGI contacted several other universities with diversity initiatives for investing and invited students from those programs to participate.
Belissimo said a goal of the WIS is to expand awareness of opportunities in investing and education so the asset management industry is increasingly diverse and inclusive. In keeping with WIS’ goal of highlighting diversity in investing, Bellissimo hopes students of all majors and backgrounds will attend WIS Week.
“Even if you’re going to go into marketing or biology or [medical] school, personal finance is an issue for everybody,” she said.
As part of WIS Week, NDIGI is partnering with the Investment Club to hold the finale of a stock pitch competition Thursday night. The competition began in October and a field of 40 teams of students has been narrowed down to three. Those three groups will be pitching their stocks to the public equities team from the Investment Office during the event.
Dumich said the competition serves as an example of a diverse group of students taking advantage of the resources NDIGI offers to learn about investing.
“We [had] freshmen through seniors, we had finance majors, we had non-business majors participate and advance in the competition,” he said.
Senior Megan Baumbach, a member of the student planning committee for WIS Week, said the event is a unique opportunity for freshmen and sophomores to get in-depth advice from experienced investors.
“It’s an opportunity for underclassmen to meet investment professionals,” she said. “I don’t think freshmen and sophomores really ever get that opportunity.”
Baumbach, the president of the Wall Street Club, got involved with WIS because she appreciates how it differs from recruiting advice typical speakers give and focuses more on broader industry topics.
Speakers this year include managing partner and incoming CEO of Wellington Management Jean Hynes, co-head of fundamental equity at Goldman Sachs Katie Koch and co-founder and managing partner of AltraVue Capital DeShay McCluskey. Last year, WIS’ group of speakers included three women on Barron’s list of the top 100 most influential women in U.S. finance.
Bellissimo believes WIS Week’s diverse lineup of speakers and networking opportunities provide a chance for students of all majors and interests to learn and grow.
“We feel really happy with the level and the quality of the speakers,” she said. “What I’m most excited about is just trying to bring diversity of thoughts and topics to the students.”
Originally published by Ryan Peters in The Observer on March 9, 2021.