Michelle E. Stevens ‘91
Michelle E. Stevens says “it felt great, but was kind of surprising” when she was named the No. 2 fund manager out of 8,000 by Forbes Magazine last fall. Perhaps she should not have been so surprised; after all, one of the mutual funds she had been managing at Transamerica Investment Management LLC had been ranked No. 7 out of 100 by Barron’s earlier in the year.
After more than 15 years working in the investment world, Stevens may be starting to get used to some fame and respect. But what she has always most enjoyed about her work – from her early days as an analyst to her current position as principal and CIO at Riazzi Asset Management – is doing research and finding the right investment opportunities.
“It’s like going to school everyday,” she says. “You find yourself researching businesses or industries that are new to you, and all the while, you have to keep your eye on the global economy and what’s happening because that will have an impact on any business you review.”
She says studying economics at Wittenberg was critical to her success as a fund manager because it helped her to examine the bigger picture. It was at Wittenberg where she first learned to “connect the dots” between what is happening in the economy to what will happen with an individual company or sector.
“I really enjoyed my economics classes and still use the analogies I learned then with my clients today,” she says. “In this business, without that broader perspective, you can miss whole trends.”
One of the things she found most valuable about being at a liberal arts school was that it gave her the flexibility and time to seek out her true passion. Today, she is enjoying her new status as a small business owner after joining Riazzi Asset Management this past fall. And her fame has followed her: Early in 2009, Forbes Magazine called her a “superstar manager” and featured a Q & A article that offered her predictions on the economy and stock market, as well as her thoughts on where to invest in a recession.
“Being a small business owner is definitely a whole new world, but a very exciting one.”