Pashupati Advani, MBA 81

Director, Advani OTC Dealers
Mumbai, India

Hedge fund advisor Pashupati “Putty” Advani, MBA 81, left his native India as a young man to study engineering in London, then business at Berkeley. The combination, he thought, would serve him well for a career in Silicon Valley. But the school’s faculty pointed him on a different path.

Professor Leo Helzel recognized Advani’s financial skill and interested him in pursuing a career at a top financial firm. He earned his first stripes in that field at Kaiser Aluminum, thanks to a new learning partnership with Kaiser Aluminum created by then-Dean Earl F. Cheit.

Signing up to assist Kaiser’s retirement committee, Advani got a chance to work directly with the firm’s treasurer. He was soon asked to prepare a report on a novel idea: how real estate could serve as an investment instrument for the pension fund. Kaiser accepted his proposal.

His success was no accident. Loading his MBA with finance courses, Advani had made sure to learn from the best: taking options with Professor Mark Rubinstein and real estate with Professor Ken Rosen.

Then, with an MBA and some marketable experiences in his pocket, he moved to New York to work as a bond trader, first at Goldman Sachs, then at Bear Stearns, which ultimately wanted him to open its first office in India.

The Asian financial crisis foiled those plans, but Advani decided to return to India anyway — even without a job. The time was right for him and the opportunities abounded. Once there, he created a thriving business in Mumbai in the early ’90s, advising hedge funds on everything from investments to governance and regulatory issues.

The business has taken a big hit in the recent financial crisis, but it is faring better than most of its Indian counterparts. “These are structural issues,” says Advani. “The whole world is adjusting down.”

In the meantime, Advani stays in touch with several of his Berkeley buddies. And, in spite of much work and travel, he volunteers frequently for the MBA admissions office, interviewing Indian applicants.

“I received an excellent education, and I feel it’s important to give something back,” he says. Besides, it keeps him plugged into the frame of mind of the 25- to 30-year-olds and allows him to exchange new ideas, he says. “It’s always nice to get a new perspective.”

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