Alumnus of the Month: February 2008
Dr. Kurt Lambert '88
What is your edge (strength)?
I think my edge lies in my ability to set ambitious yet realistic goals and to go after them with all that I have. I strongly believe that in order to succeed in any endeavor, whether professional or personal, one must be able to prioritize, to make tough choices, work hard and be prepared to make sacrifices.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
There was a unique combination of high-quality academics and small classes that created an environment conducive to studying and moving ahead. Furthermore, a large majority of the classes were challenging, which forced you to do that additional hour of studying or that extra research.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Asset management. I started my first company, Harcourt Investment Consulting AG, roughly 10 years ago managing hedge funds. Today, the firm is one of the leading firms in this field, managing in excess of USD 5 billion. I’ve recently started another firm that focuses on one of my big passions: socially responsible investments (SRI).
I came to asset management quite accidentally, having completed my graduate work in monetary economics and planning a first career move at either the World Bank or the IMF. During my Ph.D. studies, however, I worked at UBS as a research analyst, primarily making use of my econometric skills, and simply fell in love with the financial world. I was soon thereafter offered a position at another bank in the newly emerging space of hedge funds and that was the start of my relationship with asset management in general and hedge funds in particular.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
After Hofstra, I worked as a teaching assistant at UT Austin, where I completed a master’s degree in economics. I then moved to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland to complete the Ph.D., before starting work at UBS as a research analyst focused on the econometric modeling of world equity markets.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
There is no single most rewarding experience, but I remember a number of moments that were particularly rewarding: getting my first mandate, crossing over the USD 1 billion mark, reflecting at a company party that because of this simple idea I had, so much wealth was created for the more than 50 employees. I guess, however, that it is the satisfaction of my clients and employees that make for the most rewarding moments.
What was your major?
I majored in mathematics, but had a very strong interest in anthropology, to the point that I seriously considered switching majors.
What was your favorite class?
I had many great classes, but one philosophy class had a major influence on my life and pretty much changed the way I approached life. I can’t recall the course title, but it focused on the history of Western thought and covered philosophers such as Hegel (very important for me) and Kant.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Time spent at Bits & Bytes with friends who are today still my best friends. I developed my closest friendships at Hofstra, and it is the times I spent with these friends and members of the International Club that I remember most fondly.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What advice would you give current students?
Believe in yourself and your capabilities, and never forget that the most meaningful things in our lives, whether professional or personal, require a fierce dedication, hard work and sacrifice. And a bit to the side, but always important, remember the golden rule that relates to empathy. Finally, strive for a balance in your life that places a high value on non-material goals.
How do you balance work and life?
I have a few principles that I’ve had since the beginning of my career: my family comes first, and I’ve always put aside sufficient time to spend with my family. There may be times when I’m not able to make it for an important family event, but these times are exceptional and rare and, so, are always accepted by the family. At work, focus, focus, focus – I’m not a fan of multitasking, but rather doing one task at a time and getting it done well. At home – I’m at home and not finishing off work for the office.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ve always had a strong interest in diplomacy and charitable activities, so I see myself being much more active in these areas. I also see myself being actively involved in issues that are close to me: issues related to the environment, to rights of women and minorities, and to Third World development issues.
Dr. Kurt Lambert earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Hofstra University and an M.A. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He completed his doctoral studies in economics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1995. In 1997 Dr. Lambert founded Harcourt Investment Consulting, a provider of hedge fund products and services, managing in excess of USD 5 billion as of December 2007. Prior to founding Harcourt, Dr. Lambert worked at Bank Leu and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS).
Dr. Lambert is a member of the Advisory Board of the FTSE Hedge Fund Index. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Africa Foundation (africafoundation.org) as well as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Zegora Foundation.