After five years as an investment banker who advised companies in M&A and restructuring, Alexandra Jung '99 was ready to round out her skill set. But rather than pursue an MBA at a school known exclusively for finance, she wanted to explore a broader educational path.
"When I went to Kellogg people thought I was a bit crazy," laughs Jung as she recalls how everyone asked why she wasn't going to a different school. "I said, 'I don't want to be around all finance people, I want to be around people who can change my perspective.' And that's what it did. Kellogg gave me a broader management perspective and exposure to strategy, marketing, leadership and organizational behavior. I was able to look at a company and evaluate how it was working through its strategy, which was incredibly important to add to a finance background to do what I do today as an investor."
With that diverse educational background, Jung joined Goldman Sachs and moved to London to help develop the company's European Special Situations Group, managing its investments in credit, distressed debt and equity. She then linked up with a few Goldman colleagues at Greywolf Capital Management, a hedge fund where she continued to focus on investments in European credit, distressed debt and equity.
"Europe had its first major default cycle in the developing leveraged finance markets in the early 2000s so it was a fascinating time to develop my investing expertise," she says.
As the financial crisis in Europe was breaking, Jung was well poised to help Oak Hill Advisors build out its European business, just as she had done with Goldman Sachs. Since 2009, she has built out a deep, multinational investment team with all the infrastructure required to invest and operate across the European continent.
"When I joined Oak Hill it had a very successful U.S. business, but expanding our presence in the European markets requires a deeper understanding of cultural differences, market structural differences and management differences such as hiring and retaining people," explains Jung. "I had to be adaptable and make sure we were developing a business that was sustainable and successful in a completely different market. So one thing we had to do was think culturally every time we made an investment, whether it was in Spain or Germany or the U.K."
Jung implemented a sustainable infrastructure in Europe by hiring a multi-cultural team, creating joint ventures and forming relationships with strategic advisors in each country. She stresses that laying a foundation for strong relationships is crucial to Oak Hill's success in Europe.
"Investments are about so much more than the numbers," says Jung. "It's about understanding the incentives and strategy of the business and how the management has aligned their strategy towards those goals."
Jung is also quick to credit Kellogg for developing in her those instincts to initiate and nourish relationships.
"We couldn't have done in Europe what we've done without having that collaborative approach, which is what Kellogg instilled in me," she says.