Partner and Co-Chief Investment Officer, Greylock Capital Management
I had some of the best times of my life at Tuck. Any excuse to come back, I do.
Identifying investment opportunities in distressed countries or companies is not a job for the fainthearted. But Diego Ferro T’93, co-chief investment officer at Greylock Capital Management, isn’t faint of heart. He’s been in the business of finance for 25 years.
Prior to Greylock, Ferro worked for the biggest names on Wall Street: Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs. He witnessed the financial crisis first-hand, which not only transformed the industry, but his career as well.
Ferro, a member of the Tuck Latin American Council, came to Tuck in 1991 from his home in Argentina with degrees in business and economics. He wasn’t familiar with New England but was impressed by Tuck’s top ranking among business schools. For someone who thrives on competition like Ferro, who graduated with distinction as an Edward Tuck Scholar, Tuck was the perfect place to gain the skills he needed to have a successful career in investment banking.
Why did you choose Tuck over other MBA programs?
I always ask MBA candidates: How do you want to live your life for two years before going back to the grind? For me, I didn’t want to be in a city because I assumed I’d be in a city working in finance for the rest of my life. And I wanted an environment where I could be part of a community. It was great to be close to the mountains and do my studies in a quiet space. I had some of the best times of my life at Tuck. Any excuse to come back, I do.
How did Tuck prepare you for a career in finance?
It introduced an element of natural competition. I had always been at the top of my class, but at Tuck I was surrounded by smart people vying for the same position. This is one of the best trainings for success in a corporate environment. Everyone is trying to advance, and there are fewer places at the top than at the bottom. I think Tuck is good at introducing this in a very organic way.
When I graduated with distinction, it meant so much more within this context. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is the real deal.” It’s not cut-throat. People want you to succeed. But it’s competitive out there, and you have to develop an edginess to be successful.
Is there an element of teamwork, too?
Yes, you have to be a team player. I think learning this has helped me over the years in my career. To be successful, you have to pay more attention to the social dynamics of groups. I think a lot of that came out of my experience here.
What did you do after graduating?
I started working in investment banking on the sell side, and I thought that was what I wanted to do all my life. I never thought I’d go to the buy side.
What made you switch?
The financial crisis. I don’t want to put it on par with the Depression, but it was one of those things that changed a lot of lives. At that time, I went to the buy side. I’m happy I did. It helped me see things from a different perspective. It’s been very interesting learning how to work on both sides.
Why did you choose Greylock over other companies?
Part of the reason is that I wanted to do more than just manage money. Our firm is small. There are only 20 of us, so that means I’m part of lots of conversations—marketing or personnel decisions, let’s say. There’s always something happening in the world of Greylock that needs to be addressed. The human component of what I do is interesting. That’s what has always fascinated me about Wall Street in general. It’s full of highly educated people with fragile egos and weird demands.
How do you come up with your investment ideas?
We focus on undervalued, distressed, and high yield assets. One of the interesting aspects of this is that there’s always something not working somewhere in the world. There’s always a country or a corporation running into trouble. It’s an endless source of chaos and is not for the fainthearted, but if you do it right, you can help the country turn around and profit in the process. I think Venezuela, for example, is a great investment opportunity. It reminds me of Russia in 1998.
What do you love most about what you do?
I think the reason I wanted to go into finance and study complicated instruments such as derivatives is that I always liked problem-solving, whether that means solving a problem in a restructuring or trying to figure out why something is a price it shouldn’t be. That still gets me interested.
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