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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

NDIGI kick-starts first installment of Visiting Executive Fellows Program

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Notre Dame alumnus and former managing principal at CFI Partners, Brad Couri, teaches the first series of the new NDIGI Visiting Executive Fellows Program.


This semester, the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing (NDIGI) has implemented the first installment of their Visiting Executive Fellows Program. 

The program was designed to bring accomplished Notre Dame alumni to campus to share their expertise in investing and connect with students exploring various career paths. Students that registered attended the four-week program, and the final session wrapped up this Wednesday in Debartolo Hall. 

Mark Dumich, associate director of NDIGI, explains that the credit for this initiative actually goes to Brad Couri, a Notre Dame alumnus and former managing principal at CFI Partners. 

“So, this was actually Brad Couri’s idea. He was interested in getting more involved. He’s 1985 graduate, had a successful career in credit investing, and he said: ‘How can I get back?’” Dumich said. “I see a lot of student resumes, and they always have some component of experiential learning and applied investing … and I saw the need for that student demand to be better met.”

Dumich and Couri collaborated throughout the summer to design the Visiting Executive Fellows Program and map out a syllabus. Dumich said that enrollment interest was “overwhelming.” 

“I told [Couri], I said, I bet 20 or 30 students would sign up for something like this if you’re willing to make the drive,” Dumich said. “We put it out two weeks in advance of the first session, so early September. We emailed it out to the NDIGI listserv, and we had 180 students sign up.”

Couri said that he was just glad to be back at Notre Dame and engaging with the students and future business leaders.

“It’s very rewarding to do it. I’ve guest lectured at a number of different universities over the years and I’ve always enjoyed it. And, it’s a great experience to give back to the university that I went to, and I had two children come here as well,” Couri said. “And it’s nice to be around young people — they’re intellectually curious, they are smart, they are engaged and energetic. I like to think it keeps me keeps me a little bit younger.”

While Couri spent the majority of class time focused on his expertise of credit investing, he also offered more general advice and insights into how students can find success in their respective careers.

Couri provided an example of how analysts look at distressed securities, specifically holding securities over a company experiencing bankruptcy. Analysts, Couri explained, are often too caught up in the numbers to even ask the question: “Does this company have a reason to exist?” 

Aside for his industry advice, Couri also offered a general guidance that he believes college students, particularly at a high-achieving university like Notre Dame, could benefit from.

“I’d say, which I wish someone had told me when I was really young, is don’t take yourself too seriously. Most of the students here are really high achieving, and so they’re very serious-minded,” Couri said. And that’s good. That’s not a bad thing. But as you go through life, you’re going to succeed and you’re going to fail. You’re going have good times and you’re going to have really bad times, and it just helps smooth that out.”

With the interest received from this semester’s pilot session of the Visiting Executive Fellows Program, NDIGI hopes to continue this initiative and assemble experienced industry professionals from many different investing sectors. 

“My hope is that in future semesters, we bring in a practitioner to teach other aspects of investment management. So that might be portfolio construction or portfolio management, equity research or how you study a particular stock in a company,” Dumich said. “For students to learn from someone who’s doing the job … that’s when the light bulb goes off and students leave this place more prepared to really excel in their careers.”

The NDIGI hopes to continue to develop new opportunities for students and apply their philosophy of investing to every facet of life at Notre Dame.

“We view investing across asset classes. We think of investing also about building companies, how you invest your time, how you invest your energy and focus, investing in people and the relationships you make on campus,” Dumich said. “And we think all those things compound over a very long term and to fabulous outcomes for the people that come to Notre Dame.”