What are your favorite aspects of your job? Samberg: When I shuttered Pequot in 2009 I opened a family office where I invest in venture capital startups with my two sons. How great is that? When I first went down to Wall Street I believed my value add to the system was to help in the proper allocation of capital. My interest has always been in investing in growth situations, ones that keep America vibrant and create jobs. I am not a “value investor.” Financial markets have changed enormously since I entered the business, and public equity investing has become nowhere as fulfilling in my mind. By doing venture capital I believe I am taking the best of my early technology training and latter financial skills. One example is a fusion company that I chair that has raised $500 million and is within 18 months of final proof of scientific concept. There are many more, which, while not quite as world changing as fusion, are really cool.
Samberg: It’s been said many times — the MIT and engineering approach is a great background to help you analyze complex problems. I feel my life is a case study in that.
What advice would you offer to high school kids about considering engineering careers? Samberg: I was an MIT educational counselor for a number of years. First, you have to genuinely like math and science. If you do, what better way to prepare for a world increasingly favoring new technologies that are disrupting whole swaths of industry and life in general?
What advice would you offer to current AeroAstro students to best position themselves for their careers?
One of the great side benefits is having invested in five startups by MIT people.
Samberg: Follow your passion. Whatever it is, in AeroAstro, in some other science or engineering field, or even in finance!
How did AeroAstro prepare you for your career?
How do you perceive current career opportunities for those who graduate with an AeroAstro undergrad degree?
Samberg: AeroAstro is a multidisciplinary discipline. I learned about many different technologies while studying it. The systems approach is also very similar to attacking a complex financial problem. These fundamental skills have been very useful in how I approach a problem.
Other AeroAstro graduates have taken up careers in finance. What do you think makes MIT engineers particularly suited for this world?
Samberg: Not being close to the direct field, it is hard for me to say. When I graduated the race to the moon was on and times were good for an Aero Astro grad. Despite that I went in a different direction and it worked out well. The foundation you have built will lead to something great. Keep moving forward, don’t settle for something you don’t enjoy doing every day.
Published on Nov 18, 2016
Annual magazine review of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department research and educational initiatives.