By Sarah Tuff Dunn
Brendan MacKenzie ’04 was raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, by a firefighter father and a nurse mother, not realizing how meaningful those role models would be for a financially oriented future. “I came from a blue-collar family, so I didn’t have a whole lot of exposure to the business world while growing up,” says MacKenzie.
But as the associate director for Business Development at Parametric, MacKenzie now spends his time working with institutional investors throughout the Northeast helping them address their asset allocation challenges in an ever-changing market environment.
It’s a profession that was sparked by a childhood interest in math and science, and fed by switching to a business major at UVM after initially studying engineering. “It clicked with me from day one,” says MacKenzie of choosing the business route. “It allowed me to use my math skills in finance and accounting courses, collaborate with others through group projects, and explore a different set of career paths that I wasn’t aware of prior to making the switch.”
An MBA from Boston College and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation further paved the way throughout Brendan’s 11-plus-year career at Eaton Vance Investment Managers in Boston and his current role with their Seattle-based affiliate, Parametric. Here, MacKenzie shares his own strategies for success.
What is a typical day like at Parametric?
I spend a lot of time on the phone when I’m in the office and do a fair amount of traveling to meet with investors and consultants who oversee foundation, endowment, and large retirement plan portfolios. I enjoy interacting with clients and feel that the most important part of my job is understanding the challenges they are facing and positioning thoughtful solutions to address these issues.
What advice do you have for job hunters on landing a position in institutional business development?
My general advice as it relates to any career path is that there are no shortcuts. Work hard, network, and pursue the appropriate credentials or advanced degrees that will get you to where you want to be long term. Also, don’t be shy about using the UVM alumni database. People are in there because they are willing to help students. I’m sure they would gladly hop on the phone with you for 20 minutes to talk about their career path and opportunities at their respective companies.
What are some of the most valuable business skills you’ve learned?
Be honest, genuine, and respectful with everyone you come across, and if you make a commitment, follow through on it. Your reputation is the most important asset you have, so always be mindful of that when making decisions. In the words of Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
And what have you learned never, ever to do?
Don’t burn bridges! It’s scary how small of a world it is, especially now that social media has entered the equation.
You’ve passed your Series 7 and 63 and earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. What tips do you have on focusing and studying for career-boosting exams?
A person once said to me, “The minute you stop learning is the minute you start falling behind.” Most companies will pay for you to pursue professional designations and offer tuition reimbursement for local grad school programs, so take advantage of it. Studying can be a grind after a long day of work, but these are the kinds of things that separate you from the pack and open doors for years to come.
Read more UVM Alumni Advice interviews at learn.uvm.edu.
-Sarah Tuff Dunn is a freelance writer and editor.