iX Finance Head Professor – Wesley Kennedy

Wesley began his career in finance in 2000 in Silicon Valley as an investor in early-stage technology and life science companies. He later worked in investment banking, where he executed over $1bn of transactions, and as an equity research analyst before starting his own consulting firm. After consulting with over 50 small businesses and startups, Wesley launched Sift Finance, a San Francisco-based company that is in the early stages of productizing the planning, analysis and capital raising activities for microenterprises.

Why do you enjoy teaching?

I am extremely passionate about finance and thoroughly enjoy sharing the knowledge that I’ve gained over the last 15 years. Moreover, I realize that my success in finance was a testament to the fact that I had phenomenal mentors over the years and teaching affords me the opportunity to “pay it forward” by working with aspiring finance professionals.

To date, I’ve trained over 600 students in the areas of financial modeling, valuation analysis and transaction modeling and I thoroughly enjoy witnessing the meteoric rise of several of my former students.

How has the finance industry changed?

I cut my teeth in finance amidst the dot-com boom back in 2000. During those days, the majority of financial activities were dominated by very large firms that were incredibly resource rich and offered high-quality training to junior employees. However, over the last decade, high-level finance (investment banking, private equity, hedge funds and venture capital) has increasingly migrated towards a boutique model, with more specialty firms emerging. These speciality firms also have focused more on controlling overhead costs. As a consequence, today many firms lack the resources to train and increasingly are looking for junior employees who can ‘hit the ground running.’

What skills will students have after graduating the program?

Students will be able to deconstruct any business model or opportunity for that matter by leveraging a simple, yet powerful framework. In addition, students will be able to construct from scratch best-practices financial and valuation models for a variety of company types. Lastly, students will able to effectively navigate the challenging interview process administered by the most sought after finance firms.

What do you hope for from your students?

That they realize the important role that finance plays in every aspect of our life… from personal to professional. Not everybody wants to be an investment banker or a hedge fund analyst but finance provides a powerful framework for decision analysis – ranging from comparing job offers, to figuring out how to invest your own money to figuring out the most efficient capital source for a billion dollar solar project.

What’s one piece of advice that you have for students?

Figure out what truly interests you. Too many students and young professionals focus too much on where the career opportunities are as opposed to what genuinely makes them happy. And the best way to figure out what you enjoy doing is to expose yourself to a lot of different types of people and situations. I first gained my appreciation for the finance needs of small businesses working one summer in Mexico while on hiatus from my role as an investment banker.