Last week, Xactly’s CFO Joe Consul took part in a special program run by the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at San Jose State University. Numerous CFOs here in Silicon Valley, including Joe, are graduates of the business school and contribute their time to many of its programs – sharing their knowledge to benefit the next generation of financial leaders. Last Tuesday’s event was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Aggressive Growth Fund, also known as the Silicon Valley Fund. The Silicon Valley Fund gives select students at the Lucas College of Business hands-on experience doing equity research and managing real money. I sat down with Joe to find out more about this program, its value to the community, and how he came to be involved with it.
Real-World Fund Management
The Silicon Valley Fund provides students with a unique learning opportunity to gain research and financial analysis skills, including portfolio construction and performance valuation. Additionally, the Fund develops teams to compete at local and national investment and accounting competitions. Assigned to evaluate companies on the Spartan Bay Area Index, students conduct research regarding the investment of actual cash to grow the fund. Joe was part of a team of advisors and board members listening to three students present their findings last week. Each student presented on one company. As a guest, part of Joe’s role was to ask questions and test the students’ assumptions. Based on the data findings presented, the board chooses whether or not to invest in a particular company. Joe said the students clearly spent considerable time educating themselves about the companies they reported on and their products – providing in depth analysis that extended far beyond just numbers. In his words, “They did a fantastic job – I was extremely impressed.” With the financial insight and knowledge gained from this investment program, a four-student SJSU team competed two years ago at the CFA Institute Investment Research Challenge for Northern California – taking first place and outperforming teams from the Stanford MBA program, Santa Clara University, and UC Berkeley.
Shining a Spotlight on a World-Class Business School
According to Joe, participating in a program like the Silicon Valley Fund lets him give back to the institution that gave him his own start. Frequently overshadowed by other business schools in the Bay Area, the Lucas College of Business has a stellar reputation and is fully accredited by AACSB International – a distinguished accreditation earned by less than five percent of business programs worldwide. Over 80 percent of SJSU business graduates have jobs right here in Silicon Valley, and local firms employ more graduates from SJSU than any other university in the U.S. In fact, Forbes has also ranked SJSU as one of the top 20 “Colleges that will make you rich” – not that money is all that matters. Investing in tomorrow isn’t just about buying new technology, implementing new processes, or choosing the winning company. Investing in tomorrow requires an informed, collaborative, and innovative work force. I’m proud to be part of a team that places such value on giving back to the workforce of the future.