Banking Games -The Paris, Madrid & London Events (Harvard Business School - USA) - Blog

"Don't wear H&M in a Hermes game!"

 

That elegantly blunt statement typifies financier Hafeez Giwa’s philosophy of always being authentic and agile. Early in his career Giwa delivered a marathon lobbying effort to the Managing Director of a major global investment bank who finally relented to a second year analyst’s endless pitches on an international deal. The directive to Giwa was a simple challenge: “Make it happen!

 

Meet Hafeez Giwa: former plucky second year analyst at Morgan Stanley and now Harvard Business School alum financier. Taking a break from being a judge for Harvard’s New Venture Competition, Mr. Giwa was kind enough to share with Crimson Oak his worldly anecdotes, discuss the source of his drive and give real-world insights for your career success. Peek through the keyhole of this revealing profile into the world of global investment banking and the inner workings of the Harvard Business School network. 

HOW DOES ONE BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL BANKER?



GIWA: For as long as I can remember I have had an international perspective and a deep interest in real estate. During college I got my start as an intern in a boutique real estate firm in Washington DC. Upon graduating college, I earned an offer from Morgan Stanley. My first two (2) years as an investment banking analyst I was based inNew York City and the third year in London. I was fortunate to work with a really strong teamand closely with head of departments that were very supportive of junior talent.

I was able to convince the head of the group to invest in real estate in Nigeria as a second-year analyst. Morgan Stanley had made a number of investments in Brazil and Mexico and I used those previous investments as comparisons to develop an investment thesis for an opportunity in Lagos, Nigeria. Once you have the reputation and once as a hard worker. They listen to you and start to trust your judgment.

 

HOW IMPORTANT WAS YOUR TEAM IN THE PURSUIT THIS GLOBAL OPPORTUNITY?


My team was incredibly supportive. I moved to London to focus on this deal. I was the Nigerian Analyst based in London, liaising with a Vice President based in Paris and a super rock-star Associate in Madrid. A pretty agile, geographically diverse team! It was a lot of fun!


The multi-million dollar deal was my first taste of investing at a large investment house. Unfortunately, just as we were about to consummate the deal, we tripped over an exogenous hurdle: Lehman’s bankruptcy.


The market froze. The deal died.



WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FACED IN DOING “FRONTIER INVESTING”?

GIWA: In the emerging markets, the perception of risk and the reality of risk are often very different. If you went only by Western media reports you would likely never want to invest. For instance, “Perfection of Interest” is the key to real estate – that is proving the ownership of the land. In Africa there isn’t an easily accessible database of property owners. To offset this gap in information, personal relationships really mattered.


There is a certain level of trust that comes with that pedigree of top university alumni – no matter where they are located across the globe. In particular, my alumni networks and firm relationshipswere essential to supplementingmy due diligence and getting accurate information.

 

 

 

 

WHAT ABOUT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL (HBS) APPEALED TO YOU? HOW HAS IT CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR INVESTMENT BANKING CAREER?


GIWA: Working as an analyst on this transaction made me realize a number of things. It is one thing to think about the deal: ensuring that the cash flow returns and IRRs make sense. It is quite another to think about the economic impact on a small real estate industry in Nigeria and the global macro environment impacts Morgan Stanley funds. I wanted a broader perspective. That was my rationale for applying to Harvard Business School.

HBS helped my career from as early as the applicant phase through the alum phase. By attending an HBS Conference and later sitting in on an HBS class on “Real Estate in Emerging Markets” as an applicant, I was able to better craft my essays.The professor was quite welcoming and insightful. As an MBA student, the case study method was quite useful – you truly get out of it, what you put into it. Finally, as an alum I have been overwhelmed by the responsiveness and breadth of the alumni network. The network is truly remarkable!

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? WHERE DOES THIS DRIVE COME FROM?



GIWA: I applied to third round and applied to only one school – Harvard Business School - an act of craziness! When I got the acceptance letter to HBS, I called my Mom and her response was: “Oh! Did you apply to Oxford?”

My motivation comes from my family. They have been extremely supportive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANY ADVICE FOR OUR SCHOLARS AND EXECUTIVES CONSIDERING A GLOBAL CAREER IN BANKING OR INVESTING?


GIWA: Ray Maguire, Head of Citigroup M&A practice and HBS alum once said “Don’t wear H&M in a Hermes game!” In finance you will be found out.

1) Analytic Aptitude. If you don’t have analytic skills, modeling skills or a strong understanding of finance, develop them – quickly.

2) Confidence. I am just as smart as the other executive.  You have to yourself: "I will be the number #1 banker in my peer group."

3) Belief. Don’t do it for the money! The money is great but it is the last thing you think about after working for 20 hours a day for five days straight. You have to believe in the investment banking or private equity business model and strategy.

 

 Get Prepared To Get In!