Give A Bill Ackman A Fish And You'll Feed Him For A Day. Teach A Bill Ackman To Fish And He'll Hire You To Work At Pershing Square. (Ditto Re: Tennis Lessons.)

How do the world's leading hedge fund managers go about assembling their teams? While some choose the standard head hunter and "pitch me a stock" route with candidates who've had at least a few years of business experience and proven track records, others prefer a more outside the box approach. Bridgewater Associates, for instance, has said that instead of going after veterans of Wall Street, it prefers to hire people straight out of college, when their minds are still malleable. Founder Ray Dalio has stated: "Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration...We are first interested in people's values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true." Similarly, Pershing Square's Bill Ackman, who has never been one to follow the crowd, eschews the typical hiring process in identifying talent. Instead, Ackman relies on gut instincts when it comes to making personnel calls, many of which occur outside the confines of the investing world. For example, a former analyst named Oliver White was hired after serving as Ackman's guide on a fishing expedition in Tierra del Fuego. (Per Christine Harpers's Confidence Game: "For six days, Ackman and White, a philosophy graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talked and fished. White explained technical details to Ackman about fly selection, casting the line, and luring the fish. Meanwhile, Ackman spotted the next member of Pershing Square's investment team. "At the end of his stay, he asked me-- no, he told me-- I should come to New York and work for him.") While Ackman was obviously impressed with White's talent, it seems the offer was made on the basis of spending six days peering into the guy's soul and seeing something special he knew in his plums would carry over into the investing world, rather than as a barter deal for more fishing lessons. In other cases, people have been asked to join the Pershing team after dazzling Ackman with a skill he wanted to acquire. Days after Bill Ackman won control of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP), the nation’s second-largest railway, he was at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center trying to control his backhand against Wall Street’s biggest hitters. “My groundstrokes were actually pretty good,” the 46- year-old chief of Pershing Square Capital Management said toward the end of play at the R Baby Foundation doubles tournament. The event was a fundraiser to aid emergency pediatric care. “I had too many unforced errors.” [...] On Saturday, his partner was Elena Piliptchak of Tiger Europe Management, who played for Kansas State University and was the lone female competing. Ackman’s partner was 25-year-old Mariusz Adamski, a business major and No. 1 doubles player at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. After they were introduced three years ago by Jeffrey Appel, an investment banker, Ackman hired Adamski at Pershing. Where will Bill find his next super star? Let us be the first to suggest the ranks of street magicians, as they have have all the classic BA lures including the possession of a skill he most likely doesn't have and would like to learn and natural stage presence. Harvard, Princeton Bankers Seek Net Glory In Tennis Match [Bloomberg] Confidence Game [Christine Harper]
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How do the world's leading hedge fund managers go about assembling their teams? While some choose the standard head hunter and "pitch me a stock" route with candidates who've had at least a few years of business experience and proven track records, others prefer a more outside the box approach. Bridgewater Associates, for instance, has said that instead of going after veterans of Wall Street, it likes to hire people straight out of college, when their minds are still malleable. Founder Ray Dalio has stated: "Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration...We are first interested in people's values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true."

Similarly, Pershing Square's Bill Ackman, who has never been one to follow the crowd, eschews the typical hiring process in identifying talent. Instead, Ackman relies on gut instincts when it comes to making personnel calls, many of which occur outside the confines of the investing world. For example, one former analyst named Oliver White was hired after serving as Ackman's guide on a fishing expedition in Tierra del Fuego. (Per Christine Richard's Confidence Game: "For six days, Ackman and White, a philosophy graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talked and fished. White explained technical details to Ackman about fly selection, casting the line, and luring the fish. Meanwhile, Ackman spotted the next member of Pershing Square's investment team. "At the end of his stay, he asked me-- no, he told me-- I should come to New York and work for him.") While Ackman was obviously impressed with White's talent, it seems the offer was made on the basis of spending six days peering into the guy's soul and seeing something special he knew in his plums would carry over into activist investing, rather than as a barter deal for White to teach Bill his craft, which is another way people have been hired at the fund.

Days after Bill Ackman won control of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP), the nation’s second-largest railway, he was at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center trying to control his backhand against Wall Street’s biggest hitters. “My groundstrokes were actually pretty good,” the 46- year-old chief of Pershing Square Capital Management said toward the end of play at the R Baby Foundation doubles tournament. The event was a fundraiser to aid emergency pediatric care. “I had too many unforced errors.”

[...]

Ackman’s partner was 25-year-old Mariusz Adamski, a business major and No. 1 doubles player at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. After they were introduced three years ago by Jeffrey Appel, an investment banker, Ackman hired Adamski at Pershing. “I told him I’ll teach him the investment business and he’s teaching me tennis,” said Ackman, who played high-school tennis but did crew at Harvard College.

Where will Bill find his next superstar? Let us be the first to suggest the ranks of street magicians, which have have all the classic BA lures, most notably the possession of a skill he'd like to acquire. Many of them are probably untapped investing geniuses, waiting for this opportunity.

Harvard, Princeton Bankers Seek Net Glory In Tennis Match [Bloomberg]
Confidence Game [Christine Richard]

Related

Bill Ackman Does Not Act, Bill Ackman Feels Deeply (And Does Not Appreciate The Insinuation Otherwise, THANK YOU VERY MUCH)

As we have discussed at length, when it comes to the art of regulating one's emotions while investing, there are two models to choose from: The Dead Inside paradigm, wherein you remain calm, cool, and collected, maintaining the same expression on your face whether you've lost $1 billion on one trade or made three times that much on another; and The Bill Ackman. The mega-successful Pershing Square founder imbues emotion in everything he does, particularly when it comes to his job. As a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, in the past Ackman has been known to: cry at shareholder meetings; get extremely heated to the point of his face becoming "flushed," his eyes "misty" when meeting with SEC investigators; pen "long, emotional, late-night missives" to top SEC brass; and erupt on directors of companies with such passion that his "furious outburst" could be "heard in an outside hallway." As there are few on Wall Street who exhibit such raw emotion while conducting business, and there is a propensity by some to employ tactics that will put them in the power position when facing foes, perhaps it should not come as too much of a shock that recently, a reporter asked Ackman whether or not the waterworks or displays of indignation are pre-planned, in front of a mirror. For those who've long known Ackman has more integrity in one salty tear than most have in their entire body, his answer will not come as a shock, but to set the record straight, for anyone holding out hope of seeing him do a little regional theater at some point in the future:

Pershing Square: Herbalife Silenced Us

Earlier today it was noted that, to the surprise of many, Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn had refrained from asking questions or dialing in and making sudden outbursts during this morning's conference call to discuss Herbalife's fourth quarter earnings.  Obviously this came as a shock on account of Ackman and Icahn taking many opportunities in the past to share their feelings re: the company and each other. And while it's true both men personally held their tongue's today, according to Pershing Square, one of its analysts had planned to ask questions on Bill's and the hedge fund's behalf but was shot down.