The Sweet Spot

From the Spring 2012 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Sheru Chowdhry
Sheru Chowdhry

Sheru Chowdhry, MBA’00, laughs about his earliest experience living in New York City. His first apartment was in Times Square, and there was little respite from the noise and lights. “It’s a wonder that I didn’t end up half-deaf and half-blind from all of that,” he says. “It was sensory overload.”

Chowdhry eventually settled on the other side of the Hudson River, where today he and his wife are raising their two children. The move has afforded him a better perspective on the city. “You can’t beat the view of the skyline,” he says. “Of course, I still work in Manhattan, but it’s nice to be able to step outside of it and take it all in.”

In some sense, Chowdhry had to go through a similar shift in his career, and he now appreciates what he does for a living all the more. As Managing Director and Partner at Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund company, he is fully immersed in the investment, or “buy,” side of Wall Street. Among his responsibilities is overseeing Paulson’s investments in distressed securities, such as companies that are entering bankruptcy.

“I love what I do,” he says. “Bankruptcy investing is a good amalgamation of legal, financial and strategic thinking—about how we position ourselves in the capital structure and create value for the investors.”

Prior to Paulson, Chowdhry worked in mergers and acquisitions on the banking side of finance. It was not a good fit, he admits. “I was an M&A banker for three years, but it wasn’t right for me,” he says. “The buy side was calling me.”

Fortunately his Owen experience helped prepare him for the adjustment. “Vanderbilt was one of the best things that happened to me,” he says. “It has such an excellent finance program, and I learned so much from my fellowship working at the Financial Markets Research Center.”

It was this debt of gratitude that prompted Chowdhry to host Owen students during this past October’s Wall Street Week, a tour of several different financial firms organized by the school’s Career Management Center. Chowdhry gave the students an overview of how Paulson’s hedge funds operate, but the opportunity also let him share some advice about working on Wall Street—advice that comes only from having a broad perspective.

“Markets can be taxing, so it’s important that you find that sweet spot and love what you do,” he says. “In the long run, the people who do best are those who enjoy their careers.”