Ken Griffin (Harvard '89) Desperate Enough For Quants To Look To MIT

The Griff goes Cambridge slumming.
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By Paul Elledge [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Elledge [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ken Griffin says he doesn’t have any trouble wrangling up some first-class talent for whatever it is that Citadel’s doing these days. Unlike some people, he can just walk into a competitors’ office, hypnotize their finest money-making minds (or brothers-in-law) with his patented coffee ritual, and then march them off to Chicago to put their abilities to work for him and his insatiable appetite for luxury real estate. And his investors, too, of course, we guess.

This is what he says. The reality can, at some times, seem a bit at odds with this happy story. You might not think it’s a big deal that his quants keep stealing his proprietary data—after all, he can just have them thrown into prison, swallow the key and begin sifting through the container ships full of résumés of geniuses that arrive every day and that are starting to block traffic on South Dearborn Street. And yet not only does Ken Griffin employ a “head of talent strategy,” a seemingly superfluous position at a company that has to beat the talent off with a stick, but this head of talent strategy is spending $100,000 of Ken Griffin’s money on a datathon to find that most loathsome of things—graduate students—good enough to work at Citadel. Worse still, this head of talent strategy has been seen in the wild, in Cambridge, Mass. But not where you might expect to find this vassal of Griffin’s in that city by the Charles. No: Justin Pinchback is holding a contest for potential Citadelers on the wrong side of Cambridge.

“We need strong, analytical thinkers who can work through big, complex data sets,” Justin Pinchback, head of talent strategy at Chicago-based Citadel, said in an interview during the MIT datathon. “If you limit yourself to one region or one school, you won’t get as good a look at the entirety of the talent market, and that’s what we’re trying to do….”

Yuqing Xie’s team took second-place and will share in the $25,000 award for winners, who will have a chance to interview for a job at Citadel. Xie said the datathon brought together her twin interests in technology and finance.

“Data science and tech are the future, and everyone’s trying to integrate them,” said Xie, 24, who’s getting a masters in financial engineering at MIT. “Citadel is doing a very good job of combining both and that’s exactly the combination I’m interested in.”

How a $26 Billion Hedge Fund Lures the Beautiful Minds [Bloomberg]

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