TAU Law Alumni Association
Michal Vagman is as Portfolio Manager at AIG Investments, a fourth year participant, and team captain, in Cycle for Survival and recently involved with the New York chapter of Supersonas. We met Michal for a short interview in New York.
What Was Your Career Track?
After graduating from Tel Aviv University (TAU), I clerked one year for Hanan Melcer before he was appointed to the Supreme Court. I had a very different experience than most legal scholars in their early years of practice. I learned a lot about business, which ultimately led me to grow a career in finance. After the conclusion of my clerkship, I landed a job at ESOP, a trust for employee benefit plans. I later received an offer to work for a hedge fund in New York City. It sounds like a piece of cake, but I actually had to prepare for 3 months towards my interview by reading 10 books from cover to cover.
I moved to New York because I wanted the challenge of working with the best finance professionals in the world. I worked the hardest I could for 3 year, and took time off to earn an MBA at MIT. The two years I spent at Sloan School of Management were some of the best years of my life. After graduating from MIT, I started working for AIG Investments as a Senior Analyst and today I manage a $2.5 Billion, USD Fixed Income Portfolio with a focus on Emerging Markets. My responsibility is to analyze the impact of global financial and political events on the value of assets under management in the portfolio (geopolitical tensions, commodities prices, credit events etc.), as well as making strategic investment decisions.
Tell me about your experiences in TAU?
I earned a dual degree in Law and Economics. My professors were amazing; I loved going to classes and knew, at the time, that I was being taught by some of the best legal minds in the world. I took Criminal Law with Yuval Levy and Micha Fetman as TA. They would talk to you in class, and a few hours later you would be watching them in the news.
All in all, those were very intense few years of reading, summarizing, taking exams and competing against some of the smartest people in the country while working five days out of a week. Because I am a curious person, I read the case law top to bottom, in my spare time I slept. Seating in the lawn was priceless and grabbing coffee from Abed in Buchmann’s cafeteria (and getting compliments) was one of the highlights of my day.
How Did TAU Help You in Your Career?
Studying law is like learning a language, and legal thinking is something that has always helped my career. It teaches you to be critical and always question what you are being told. You learn to challenge your thinking, read the fine print and look for solutions. TAU was one hell of a school, it is not just a nice line in my resume; the things I’ve learned there help me to this day in the business world.
How Would You Describe the Experience of Being an Israeli in New York?
Relocating to start a new job was challenging, I didn’t have a lot of friends in the city and the first few years felt like a struggle. Culturally, it took me a few years to dial down; Israelis come off as aggressive, energetic and direct, and the Americans don’t really know how to take it. I find that a lot of people are essentially ignorant about Israel, and it’s not easy being so far away when the security situation deteriorates back at home. Lately, I have joined Fuel for Truth, a pro-Israeli advocacy program.
What is Cycle for Survival?
Indoor team cycling events to promote fundraising for cancer research. 100% of every donation to Cycle for Survival goes directly to research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 2015 alone Cycle for Survival raised $25 million in donations. This is the fourth year I am participating in memory of Maor Zusman, who died of cancer at the age of 4.
TAU Law Alumni Association would like to thank Gil Rosenblum (Class of 2012) for interviewing and editing this monthly column.