Famed Investor Discusses Politics, Investments and Philanthropy at Alumni Event
On Tuesday, June 6, the Yeshiva University Wall Street Group hosted “A Conversation with Investor Paul Singer.” Singer is the founder and co-CEO of Elliott Management Corporation, which manages approximately $32 billion in funds. The event was held at Schulte Roth & Zabel, thanks to Dan Oshinsky ’91YC, a partner at the firm. The conversation was moderated by Daniel Posner ’91YC, chief investment officer and co-founder of the AB Energy Opportunity Fund.
Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, gave a brief introduction. “It was important for me to be here tonight because this conversation about investments, politics and philanthropy is everything that the Yeshiva University of tomorrow aspires to become.” He lauded Singer for his Israel advocacy, which echoes YU’s own and signifies “what we must do as devout Jews, and as citizens of this world, to protect Israel, invest in Israel, and make a difference not just in the Jewish community but also in the broader society. Paul Singer represents all of that, and it is my honor to be here at the beginning of my tenure to listen to this very important and inspiring conversation.”
Over the course of the next hour, Singer spoke about the origins of his own company, his investment strategy (condensed to “find every reason you can not to lose money”), contemporary politics, the future of the financial markets (China is the largest and most unpredictable element in the mix) and his approach to philanthropy.
Regarding his philanthropy, which Singer calls “entrepreneurial,” he explained how he went from being a person writing checks to various organizations to someone who wanted to know more about what effect those checks had on the work being done. This led Singer to look for what he called “gaps” between intentions and outcomes, which spurred him to develop ways to fill those gaps.
This was the genesis of Start-Up Nation Central, a not-for-profit organization in Israel which, according to its website, brokers connections between Israel’s “start-up innovation ecosystem” and companies and organizations from around the world. “We are very interested in developing the human capital side of this equation,” he noted. “One of the challenges Israel faces is a shortage of human capital, but it has under-utilized resources in the charedi, women, and the Arab population, resources that can help bridge social divides and serve as sources of future prosperity.”
He saw Start-Up Nation Central as a good example of his philanthropic approach, which starts with “having an idea, testing it, iterating, and then growing it carefully.”
Singer also spoke about the connection between his Jewish identity and his business and philanthropic ventures. “My Judaism has been important to me and, as with the things in my life that are important to me, I try to find ways to support them in a positive way. I found, as far back as I can remember, that I have been a passionate supporter of Israel and its survival and prosperity as a nation, and the more I learn about this complicated place, the more I love it and support it as a fine nation which embodies Jewish ideals I love and respect.”
After a Q & A session, Posner issued a call to action for alumni support of the University. “We have a new president and this is a great opportunity for all of us to get more involved. We all know how important this institution is to us, to our families, to our communities and to the larger world, and your involvement is important to what Yeshiva University will accomplish in the future.”
Lawrence Askowitz ’87YC, co-chair of the YU Wall Street Group committee, echoed Posner’s sentiments as he noted that “events like the one tonight demonstrate the power of the Wall Street Group to connect our talented alumni with experts who are shaping the future of various industries and the world of finance. They also offer vital assistance to YU students seeking mentors, internships and full-time jobs. I encourage all our alumni to become more involved in this 2,200-person group to take advantage of priceless opportunities like this one, to join their peers as they advance their careers and the future of Yeshiva University.”
The Wall Street Group is one of many professional networks sponsored by the Office of Alumni Affairs. More information about the networks can be found at www.yuprofessionalnetworking.com. YU ALUMinate offers YU alumni the chance to post jobs, make professional connections and search for mentors at www.yualuminate.com.