2016 Forty Under Forty

Back to Forty Under Forty
Mark Baumgartner

Mark Baumgartner

Institute for Advanced Study
(Princeton, NJ) 46

“After leaving the Ford Foundation, where he was responsible for asset allocation and risk, he’s taken the Institute’s portfolio into 100% alts, with leverage—a ‘wild’ portfolio by some.”

Name the biggest difference between your job in 2012 and current position.

Ten times bigger responsibilities, with 10 times smaller portfolio.

What is one career move you wish you could take back...?

None. Never doubt the path by which you’ve come. Every experience has taught me something as an investor.

... and investment move?

Buying a house at the peak of the market in 2006. It’s the last time I ever listen to Alan Greenspan.

Compare your leadership style to that of a historical figure or famous leader.

I’d like to think it is a combination of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison—deep thought and hard work. But I fear it’s sometimes a combination of Jackson Pollock and Lucille Ball.

Which asset owner would you most like to have on your team?

There are so many talented individuals in this industry, but the team I work with at the Institute now—Jeff Gatto, Bradley Kay, and Jill Larney—is my A-team. Investment management today is so complex and demands a flexible and multi-disciplinary background–the person Michael Mauboussin describes in More Than You Know. This person should be well-balanced, have a great blend of both quant and qual, be worldly in experience, but youthful and flexible in thought. But above and beyond be humble—hubris and overconfidence are dangerous characteristics for investors.

You’re advising an employee about a job offer: How heavily should compensation weigh in their decision (as a percentage)?

Compensation comes in many forms, not just dollars. Other forms of reward besides pay, prestige, and title are a supportive boss, great coworkers, challenging and meaningful work, freedom and autonomy, and a good work-life balance. These came from a back-of-a-napkin discussion I had with Apurva Mehta [Cook Children’s Health Care System] in 2010, and they seem to have withstood the test of time.

The key to successful board relations is________.

Transparency and effective communication.

Describe the weirdest interaction you’ve had with a job candidate.

We had someone come into the Ford Foundation who claimed to have a fear of heights. He then sat down in a chair so close to the railing overlooking the main atrium that I had to ask him to change his spot. This was for a risk management position; he didn’t get the job.

Who’s your main mentor/sponsor?

Hamilton Helmer—a Yale econ PhD, former Bain strategy consultant, and investor with whom I was fortunate to apprentice with early in my career—has been influential throughout my career.

What is one thing you believed in 2012 that you no longer believe?

That Donald Trump could never be president.

Advice you’d give to this year’s crop of Forty Under Forty?

Stay humble, stay focused, and distinguish yourself. There is life after 40!