Recently, I spoke with Neha Aggarwal from Orbis Investments about her career in investment management and what Orbis does. Somewhat like the average Oxford student, her work is largely research-driven and highly analytical. In her day-to-day, she is largely engaged with trying to find stocks to invest in at a bargain or discount. Even though financial markets achieve efficiency over the long run, they can be very moody and react with extreme optimism or pessimism in the short term to external news. This creates opportunities for institutional investors such as Orbis to buy stocks at a fraction of their intrinsic value. When Neha picks stocks to think about, she approaches the company much like solving a puzzle: putting the details together with an eye for the bigger picture. At any one time, she could be recommending ten stocks, while keeping an eye out for the stocks that she has recommended in the past to see if her investment thesis is playing out like she thought it would. Neha shared that she is constantly in the process of updating her views, refining her thinking and asking questions. Even the best investors are only right about 60% of the time; in a career like investment management there’s always room to grow and develop one’s thinking.
And Orbis is an amazing place for young, ambitious women to do just that. After having seen her share of the circuit—she began her career at Lehmann Brothers just before the financial crash, and has also spent some time at big names like Nomura, General Atlantic and Temasek—Neha is really enjoying her role at Orbis. She feels that it differentiates itself as an investment management firm by its extremely flat hierarchy, among other things. The culture is such that everyone is constantly trying to arrive at better decisions collectively, and are not afraid to own up to mistakes or course correct when necessary. Employees are encouraged to speak their minds, and intellectual honesty is highly valued. This means that she does not have to worry about selling her ideas to the portfolio manager, but can instead have a discussion about the merits or demerits of the stock.
When asked what advice she would give to Oxford women about beginning a career in investment management, Neha would like to encourage them to attend the upcoming coffee chat at Corpus Christi College, where any burning questions about investment management, Orbis Investments, and their upcoming stock-picking challenge will be answered.