Webb Degree: No Limits
By Mike Hutchings
"Hi – my name is Mike, and I’m an engineer working for an investment bank.”
No, this isn’t part of a Twelve Step program. It’s just the canned response that I end up giving a few dozen times a year to people in banking who ask about my background.
Armed with my degree from Webb, I looked for a business-oriented role in an engineering environment. After four years in the new business group of an LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) shipping company, working on developing energy projects in Eastern Europe, I was fortunate enough, with some help from an ex-colleague, to get my foot in the door in the energy group at TD Securities.
During my first week on the job, the “Webb Question” came up: Someone who knew the school — his father was on the Board of Trustees — saw my resume, stood up and said, “You went to Webb? What are you doing here?!?” I remember thinking it was like he’d read my mind. Eleven years later, though, I’m a classic example of how a Webb education can prepare the right person for any number of different career paths.
While I didn’t have a typical finance resume, I understood the underlying energy business, could systematically analyze risk, and was able to communicate effectively – all thanks to my engineering background. Turned out to be a great fit. I worked in energy banking for about five years, then spent three years financing mining projects, travelling from the Andes to the Mexican desert. Four years ago I returned to TD, this time in syndications. Now I structure and distribute loans for non-investment grade borrowers, spreading the risk and capital requirements across a syndicate of lenders.
Do I miss working with things that float? Sure, but I still get my fix. These days all of my marine-related activities are recreational in nature. Powerboating, sailing — I even go fishing before commuting to work in midtown Manhattan, sometimes right off of Crescent Beach. So in June, when the stripers are running, if any of you students are still up at 5:00 AM finishing your projects or studying for finals, take a look out at the Sound. You might see a white inboard flying a Webb YC burgee; that’ll be me. Just your typical banker-engineer.