LOS ANGELES, CA – The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) SoCal held its first ever fireside chat at the Fowler Museum at the University of California Los Angeles(UCLA) on February 11. It featured some of the top investment gurus – Mihir Worah, Srinivas (Srini) Pulavarti and Mohnish Pabrai, who moderated the discussion.
All three were trained as scientists or engineers. None has a MBA and yet, all three have reached the highest echelons of the investment world. Pabrai asked Worah and Pulavarti to describe their journey and ascent. Both Pulavarti and Worah emphasized the importance mentors had played in their success. PIMCO founder, a legend, was an incredible mentor for Worah and Pulavarti got considerable guidance from his father and professors. A little bit of luck also played a key role in their success.
Worah, who has a Ph. D in Theoretical Physics from the University of Chicago explained how he drew parallels between the two disciplines -physics and finance. He explained how the famous Black-Scholes option pricing model uses the same equations as the Heat Equation in Physics. PIMCO is a place that focuses heavily on quantitative analysis and Worah’s strengths on the quant side aided his ascent at PIMCO.Pulavart said people make career mistakes if they choose a career just for the money. He said that he personally never pursued the employer who would pay the most. He focused on job satisfaction.
They went on to share their philosophies about picking their investments and their strategies. Both explained the importance of a common sense approach to investing. Patience was brought up as a key virtue to be successful in finance. Both gurus emphasized the need to gain an information edge through sheer hard work to make sound investment decisions. They touched upon asset allocation, investment horizon and risk tolerance. They also advised not to be carried away by all the action and how inaction could be the best course of action in certain situations.
The speakers touched upon how they kept an internal scorecard. Pabrai mentioned about how while we are not born with an owners manual, it is important to work with industrial psychologists to understand who we are and the ideal job and career for us. The payoff is an incredibly happy and successful life. Society expects us as humans to pursue norms acceptable to society, but this may put us out of sync with our core inner self. So Pabrai suggested, we have to understand who we are and live our lives as close to the core inner self. This is why the alignment is distorted between the inner self and the outer self. Knowing who we are is critical to our success. This unique trio of finance pros from the Indus region kept the audience spellbound for nearly two hours.