Canfield BHP Alum Ashish Gupta Shares Investment Banking, Impact Investing Experiences

From equity research to portfolio management to owning his own hedge fund, since graduating from UT with degrees in Canfield BHP and Finance in 2000, Ashish Gupta has become a pro in the investment and startup sectors. Today, he continues to give back to the university. 

In addition to serving as an advisor for Canfield BHP, the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Sustainability Investment Group, Ashish works for 4Told FinTech, a microlending technology company, as the Chief Financial Officer. He also runs his own family practice that exclusively invests in impact-oriented, early-stage companies. Prior to this, Ashish worked in various roles within the financial sector.

“For about 15 years, I spent my life in the area of finance. Initially, (I worked) as an investment banker and equity researcher primarily focusing on the energy sector. Then, I transitioned from the sell-side to the buy-side, working at a couple of hedge funds and (later) was a partner at a startup hedge fund in New York and helped grow that to nearly a billion dollars (of assets) under management,” Ashish said.

After growing the startup hedge fund, Ashish went on to found his own hedge fund that invested in publicly traded equities within the energy sector. Throughout his career, Ashish said non-profit work and giving back to his communities was also incredibly important to him. Ultimately, this led him to combine his passions for finance and social impact.

“All along that time, whether I was doing investment banking or working in the hedge fund world, the personal aspect of my life was focused on philanthropy and impact, largely in the area of education and access to capital,” he said. “When I strung together a few good years in the hedge fund world, I wasn’t feeling personally fulfilled and wanted to focus more of my time exclusively on areas of impact. In 2018 I sold my hedge fund and, for the last three years, I’ve been focused on impact investing.”

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Halloween Throwback: Canfield BHP Seniors + Their Costumes

Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins, and enjoying a spooky 31st with friends brings joy to students throughout the university, but, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Halloween might look a bit different this year. With socially-distanced Halloween festivities approaching, now is a great time to look back on some of the fun Canfield BHP seniors have had over the years. 

Carlyn and Josh as Drake and Josh

Carlyn Crow, a Canfield BHP, Plan II senior, and Josh Jones, a Canfield BHP, Computational Engineering senior, showed out on October 31st as the iconic duo of Drake and Josh. As one of the last classes to have 90s babies, it only makes sense that this Canfield BHPair chose to dress as the main characters of a beloved Nickelodeon sitcom released in the early 2000s. 

Bernardo and Lindsey as Bunnies

No Halloween is complete without a couple of animal costumes and the Canfield BHP community certainly did not disappoint. Canfield BHP, Finance senior Bernardo Barron, and Canfield BHP, Accounting senior Lindsey Hoyer hopped into Halloween last year in full bunny suits. 

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Internship Spotlight: Sanika Bhave

Name: Sanika Bhave

Major: Canfield BHP, Plan II Honors, Management Information Systems 

Previous internship: Venture Capital Intern at Crosscut Ventures

Topics of Interest: clean tech, social entrepreneurship, intellectual property law, art history

For students interested in the intersection of business, technology, and social good, Sanika Bhave is a student worth learning from. As a Venture Capital Intern at Crosscut ventures, Sanika had the opportunity to spearhead various projects, from developing LA’s first free regional tech job board to helping run a social impact fund. 

Crosscut is an early-stage fund based out of Santa Monica, California. Because of the pandemic, Sanika worked remotely, but still had the opportunity to learn from leadership and develop skills throughout her summer.

“I worked under Nick Kim, who is the head of platform (at Crosscut),” she said. “Part of what I did was help spearhead Crosscut’s platform initiatives, like making sure our mission, what we stand for, and our past successes are known to the broader tech community.” 

One of the projects she worked on was something called Interchange, LA’s first free regional tech job board. Sanika said the idea behind Interchange was to reduce barriers to entry in the area.

“Silicon Beach is very much a real thing, and we want to retain top tech talent in LA, but also attract people to come to live there,” Sanika said. “The launch of Interchange was really cool. There’s no paywall, no barriers– whether it be income, racial background education, etc. Now (everyone has) a fair shot at being employed by the best and brightest. Working on that was really cool.”

In addition to working on Interchange, Sanika had the opportunity to interact with founders through Crosscut Connect, the central repository used to provide founders support. 

“Last week we had a webinar with Brian Makita, who is the head of performance marketing at Warby Parker,” Sanika said. “We also talked with art portfolio companies and marketing departments about how performance marketing has evolved at Warby Parker since COVID and how those strategies might apply to our portfolios as well.”

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Internship Spotlight: Lauren Johnson at Whole Foods

Name: Lauren Johnson

Major: Canfield BHP, Plan II Honors, Management Information Systems

Previous internship: Indirect Procurement Intern at Whole Foods

Topics of Interest: Country music, music production, appreciating the outdoors, sustainability

When the pandemic hit, various students with internships and study abroad plans for the summer were thrown for a loop. With the economy in disarray, many Canfield BHP students had to find other ways to make their summer a productive one. Lauren Johnson, a Canfield BHP, Plan II Honors, and Management Information Systems senior, is a perfect example of one of those students. 

After her plans to study abroad over the summer were canceled due to the pandemic, Lauren began to search for an internship. Eventually, she landed a position as an Indirect Procurement Intern at Whole Foods. In the midst of everything going on, these last-minute internships were incredibly competitive; Lauren said certain experiences in McCombs made her more confident about the possibility of receiving an offer. 

“Like everyone else, I felt like I was just scrambling for an internship and I found (the Whole Foods opportunity) on LinkedIn,” Lauren said, “I think something that set me apart was an event put on like through (the Undergraduate Business Council– UBC) where we hosted the CEO of Whole Foods. I actually got to see him after the event and talk to him, so in my interview, I was able to provide insight into the values of the company because I’d had a conversation with the CEO, which was really cool.” 

Lauren completed her internship remotely from Denver, Colorado, where she spent her summer. While she said working in-person certainly would have been a good opportunity to, she still had an incredible experience. From working with a small, passionate team to handling a variety of projects throughout the summer.

“I was working with two teams: the Quality Standards team and the Indirect Procurement team. In quality standards I did a lot of ad hoc projects in different areas, like researching developments in a form of agriculture or completing an analysis on survey results about seafood sustainability or even managing the team’s internal website,” Lauren said. “On the Indirect Procurement team, we handled all of the hand sanitizers and PPE and stuff like that. Related to that, I worked on a recycling project consolidating information about packaging materials. It was a great opportunity to be a part of a bigger mission for sustainability and Whole Foods.”

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Canfield BHP Freshmen Value Community in a Virtual Environment

As students approach what for many will be the third or fourth month of online schooling, it is understandably difficult to have a positive outlook on the rest of the semester. Every undergraduate is missing out on traditionally-experienced sports games, concerts, and even lunch dates. 

The situation is arguably even more difficult for college freshmen, who already were forced to miss out on milestones like high school prom and graduation. While college presented an opportunity to make things right after a botched senior year of high school, many hopes were dashed when the majority of UT classes went online. Even so, freshmen students in the Canfield Business Honors continue to thrive, whether it be through applying and getting into (virtually-run) student organizations, taking advantage of peer mentor groups, or connecting with professors and administration. 

Sidd Shende, a Canfield BHP freshmen currently working from his home in Seattle, Washington, explains that, although he’s working from an entirely different time zone, the resources and community UT and Canfield BHP provide make online schooling the best it can be. 

“I like online schooling, especially given that I’m in Seattle. Honestly, I really like the way Canvas is set up with the whole to-do list and the way the assignments are (formatted),” he said. “I’m also really experiencing the whole community and I feel like a lot of (Canfield BHP) people I’m talking to are academically driven, but at the same time like-minded and ambitious, so I really connect with them.”

Other students feel similarly, especially after experiencing the Canfield BHP tradition of Leadership Kickoff. Jenna Chen, a freshman currently attending classes from her home in Plano, Texas, said she appreciated the effort administration and upperclassmen put into the event, referencing a virtual escape room that was one aspect of Leadership Kickoff.

“Even though we’re all physically separated, the amount of work they put into making virtual connections, like the escape room we did during Kickoff, is incredible. It was a really neat way to communicate and get to know our peers and how we all work in a team setting,” Jenna said. 

Jenna also said the efforts of her Canfield BHP peer mentor have improved her college experience. 

“I love my peer mentor. I think she’s amazing and she’s just so helpful in creating a very inclusive environment,” Jenna said. “One of my favorite things that we do in (Canfield) BHP is the thirty-minute conversations I have with my peer mentor and group after our BA101 class. Just being able to talk to my mentor and the people in it is about our thoughts gives it a real community vibe, even though I’m at home.”

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