Speaker panels from across SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA)

Speak to any incoming Cambridge MBA student and one of the most exciting aspects of the MBA experience, that will likely be mentioned, is the MBA company trek.

An MBA trek is when students visit companies in a specific location or sector, to get an insider view of the day-to-day workings of an organisation and where it fits within the wider landscape.

With global Covid-19 restrictions in place, ruling out the possibility of travelling abroad or even to a company office in the UK, we launched the first ever Cambridge MBA ‘E-trek’ for 2020. The inaugural session was delivered by SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA), the global firm that manages SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund.

Over the last three years, SBIA has made a number of high-profile investments in growth technology companies across geographies and sectors including the Cambridge-based, ARM Holdings, Uber, Didi and PayTM. So it was exciting that we were able to get some high-level insights into the SBIA Vision Fund’s ecosystem.

The first ever Cambridge MBA ‘E-trek’ was attended online by over 170 incoming MBA students, as well as those from the Cambridge Judge MFin cohort. The session was split into three parts with a Q&A for each section, moderated by incoming Cambridge MBA student, Simon Finch, and chaired by myself. The three sections were – Investing in Innovating Companies; Valuing Companies and Risk Management; and Getting into Venture Capital.

Ruwan Weerasekara, SBIA Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer and Paul Davison, SBIA  Investment Director EMEAI started by sharing their professional journeys and the skills needed for their respective roles, before providing insights into how the Vision Fund approaches its investments, what the investment process looks like, and what they look for in a founder and portfolio company.  Shivani Swami, SBIA Director and EMEAI Head of Valuations, continued the conversation by explaining her role in more detail and the different factors that are considered when valuing investments.

To close the session, Jim Shaw, SBIA Director and EMEAI Head of Talent Acquisition, gave attendees advice about how to enter the industry and what SBIA looks for in applicants. Following this, Yuval Cohen, SBIA Vice President, Portfolio Valuations and Cambridge MBA alumnus (MBA 2016/17), provided further detail into the skills, courses and networks across the Cambridge MBA programme that, he felt, enabled him to join SBIA after completing his MBA in 2017.

The session overall was extremely insightful, and we all agreed that it provided a fantastic high-level overview of how SBIA works. We also appreciated being able to hear anecdotes first-hand from senior individuals at one of the biggest investment firms, as well as learning about the breadth of roles across SBIA.

A big thank you from me and the rest of the Cambridge MBA cohort 2020, to all our our speakers from SBIA, both for their time and for sharing their expertise. A special thanks to Aamir Akram, SBIA Partner and Deputy CFO, who helped make the session happen.

We look forward to future collaborations with SBIA during our Cambridge MBA year.

Aaron D’Souza outside Cambridge Judge Business School 2020