A path to the top packed with twists and turns

Not sure what investment banking is all about? That didn’t stop Geoffrey Feldkamp from finding his niche in our business.

Geoffrey Feldkamp

Managing Director

24 years in the industry

8 years at Barclays

What was your first job out of college?

I had no idea what investment banking was when I graduated college. While I was in school, I’d been a pizza cook, bartender, home builder and even ran my own lawn mowing service. Plus, I’d spent time on the road following The Grateful Dead and Phish. I had no understanding of corporate life. But I did have a lot of energy. So, when my Dad suggested it, I investigated a job in investment banking and I applied my energy to organizing interviews. I met with a lot of firms and in February 1993, I got a job as an Analyst at Lehman Brothers.

I landed in the real estate group – which happened to be a group that was doing things, like the advent of the Real Estate Investment Trust market, that had never been done before. I did a lot of deals. And by the end of my second year, I had more IPO experience than anyone in my class.

And your career path after that?

In the early 90s, Debt Capital Markets (DCM) was the best part of Lehman Brothers. All the leaders of the firm came from there. You couldn’t join the group as a first-year Analyst, but I was able to go there in my third year. To top it all off, I won a place at the Tuck School of Business. But when a good friend asked me to help her start an outdoor adventure travel magazine, I deferred my place at Tuck and moved to Colorado for a year.

During business school, I spent the summer in Fixed Income Sales & Trading at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and discovered I had zero appetite for risk. Upon graduating, I returned to Lehman Brothers and joined Equity Capital Markets (ECM) to help launch a nascent coverage effort around the internet. That was in 1999, and it was my springboard to a lot of different roles in ECM, including running Asia ECM. My whole family made the move to Hong Kong with me. Then, after we were there for a year, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

Nomura bought Lehman’s Asia/Europe business and I ran Nomura’s global ECM business with all my former colleagues for two years. Then Barclays, who’d bought the Americas business, brought me back to run the Americas real estate business. Now I run the Financial Institutions, Technology and Communications and Media ECM teams.

What do you love about Equity Capital Markets?

It’s constantly changing. And you’re working at a point in the business where sales and trading institutions meet our corporate coverage clients. There’s constant conflict in trying to construct a deal that both sides feel happy with. Navigating that conflict and resolving it is exhilarating.

And your best advice for people starting out?

First, be sure you’re interested in the work of investment banking. Then really commit to what you’re doing and do it to the best of your ability.

Second, build your career by establishing relationships and mentorships with people you trust. Find the person who will speak for you when you’re not in the room and who will take an interest in you and give you exposure and new opportunities. Never burn your bridges. Making time for the people in your networks means that if you need to circle back at any point in your career, as I did, you can.

Third, don’t chase what you think is the obvious growth area. Look for something that’s full of problems. When something is broken, the greatest opportunities lie in finding ways to fix it.